Although a rare occurrence a tape snapping is a real possibility and the implications of this need to be understood. Some drives which run the tape onto an internal take-up spool, such as DLT and Ultrium LTO, the consequences of a snapped tape are serious, as some of the media will be retained in the drive. This not only damages the media, but in some cases renders the drive inoperable until the tape media is removed.
The cause of the problem may be due to a tape data cartridge problem, a media issue or in rare cases indicate a failure of the drive mechanism. Even for a DAT or AIT tape drive where it may be possible to remove the tape without any being left inside the mechanism, it is important the operation of the drive is tested before any further important tape data cartridges are inserted.
Always Tape Data Recovery
When the media in a tape data cartridge snaps it should be sent to a professional tape data recovery company, along with the tape drive if any of the media has been retained inside it. Unqualified personnel should never attempt to fix the problem, as they may cause further damage to the tape media or even damage the tape drive.
The disassembly of a tape data cartridge is a procedure which should only be undertaken by a professional tape data recovery specialist with the correct level of knowledge and expertise. Damaged sections of tape media may need to be removed or flatten out before it can be spliced back together. The splicing process is important, because if it is done incorrectly the splice could break or even damage the read/write heads in the tape drive.
Snapped LTO and DLT Recovery
A snapped LTO or DLT tape data cartridge is fortunately only a rare occurrence, as it has serious consequences due to the way the data is recorded to the media. The linear tape format which makes successive passes along the tape writes multiple data tracks, all of which will be damage in the event of the media snapping.
Recovering the data from snapped LTO and DLT data cartridges is therefore a complex and time consuming process, as the damaged section of media will be encountered on each pass of the tape. Regular use of a tape cleaning cartridge may also be required, because even the most expertly spliced tape has the potential for small particles to become detached, which could attach themselves to the read/write head.
Snapped DAT and AIT Recovery
DAT and AIT tape drives utilise a complex transport mechanism known as an omega loop, but damaged tapes are still infrequent. When a problem does occur however, the damage can be quite extensive, especially if the tape media becomes entangled with the transport mechanism or the read/write head. Because the data is written using the helical scan format in one pass along the media, the damage is confined to one area.
The only tape data recovery concern after splicing is how the tape media and drive behave at the point where the splice is encountered. The splice should only be undertaken by a tape data recovery specialist, using the correct procedure and tools for splicing tape. The use of the incorrect splicing tape can cause damage the drive and other sections of the tape media.