Erasing backup tapes (DLT)

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Special Forums Hardware Filesystems, Disks and Memory Erasing backup tapes (DLT)
# 1  
Old 08-04-2009
Erasing backup tapes (DLT)

I have a load of DLT tapes I need to scrub and get rid off.

Anyone know of any application to erase the tapes before recycling them?

I have a Sun StorEdge L9 tape loader which I would like to utilise, so a script or application that can take advantage of doing a load of tapes without manual intervention would be ideal.


Last edited by son_t; 08-04-2009 at 06:57 AM..
# 2  
Old 08-04-2009
The obvious way to do the erasing is to use the mt(1) command using the erase parameter. I've always used commercial software like Legato or Netbackup to drive tape libraries, but the scsieject(1), loaderinfo(1) and mtx(1) commands look like they will potentially do what you want in order to automate the changing of tapes in the drive.
# 3  
Old 08-05-2009
hmm. Getting rid of?

Do you feel compelled to keep the tapes usable for someone else? And just how private is the data on them?

I would guess that a secure erase of a tape is analogous to a secure erase of a disk drive. To make sure data cannot be retrieved, it might need to be overwritten and erased multiple times. I read an exchange once where someone had accidentally erased a tape in a way that effectively just wrote an end of tape at the beginning of the tape. Others were instructing them on how to get the drive to read past that so that they could recover some of their lost data.

So, how about strong magnets, or burning, or shredding?

Google "secure erase of data tapes" and see what you find. One example is Secure Data Deletion
# 4  
Old 08-10-2009
Thanks for the replies. Solaris programs/scripts would be helpful... We use Solstice Backup (Legato) here - anyone know if this has an 'erase' facility?

Originally Posted by choogendyk
hmm. Getting rid of?

Do you feel compelled to keep the tapes usable for someone else? And just how private is the data on them?
No. They are DLTs - so 40/80Mb on each tape is no use nowadays... we have LTO4 now, so these are pretty useless... The data on these DTLs are very sensitive, so need to be erase securely. (There might be a legal requirement to do so too, so giving the tapes away for other uses might not be possible. Erasing and recycling would be the only choice.)

I'm surprised this sort of question has not come up before - or has it? (Am I posting in the wrong section?!) I've tried one of these video/audio tape eraser device (with an adequate gauss/coercivity value) on a DLT tape, but I can still read off the index table - although not the contents...

Last edited by son_t; 08-10-2009 at 07:21 AM..
# 5  
Old 08-15-2009
I think the question is probably dealt with fairly often. Perhaps your degausser is one of the smaller hand units? Do a google on "commercial data tape destruction", and you will find plenty of hits both with information and sponsored links for tape destruction just on the first page. I think this is the way the big shops do it.

I doubt anyone would want to sit through while a sequential device such as a tape drive writes over the full length of a tape several times and then repeat that for a whole box full of tapes. Zap it with a commercial scale dagausser, smash it with a sledgehammer, pull out the tape, shred it, burn the whole pile of shreds. That would take far less time than erasing or overwriting using software to adequately obliterate the data.
# 6  
Old 08-16-2009
it's a pity nobody takes in old tape cartridges, it's one of those things that everybody has tons of but not recyclable and quite useless but nobody dares to dispose of because of management security policies.

I wish it were as recyclable as something like laser printer toner cartridges.

You can refill a printer toner.
You can wash an old beer bottle and reuse it.
Old tyres you can shred it mixed with aggregates and use to lay on tarmac, or burn it to produce electricity or some countries like vietnam they use old tyres to make the soles of cheap sandals.

But what do you do with a spoilt tape cartridge? Chucked into a corner or cupboard taking up space and forgotten that's what.

Last edited by sparcguy; 08-16-2009 at 12:31 AM..
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