Tuesday January 16, 2018

Expert, Timely and Cost Efficient Repair Services

As a tape drive repair leader since 1992, Pinetree Peripherals offers dependable tape drive and tape library repair and technical support services.

Pinetree's experts use documented and repeatable repair processes, ensure that we get the job done correctly the first time. Our warranty repair rate is among the lowest in the industry and our customer service model ensures that our customers will speak to one o our employees every time they call us, during our regular business hours 8 AM - 5PM Mountain Time.

Tape backup device repair and technical support services are Pinetree's core business. These services are backed with Pinetree's full 180 day warranty program.

Pinetree repairs and supports tape drives and libraries manufactured by:

OUR definition of customer satisfaction is getting your drives and libraries repaired correctly the first time.

Tape Drive and Tape Library Details

Why Tape?

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, from jammed freeways to unexpected power outages. How can you prepare to protect your data from everything from virus attacks to malicious or accidental deletion? The simple answer that we all know is consistent periodic back-ups to restore our data to the state it was before the hiccup. These days back-up solution hardware comes in a variety of sizes, flavors and expenses.
Magnetic tape provides an economical, removable, reliable and well-supported medium to save the crown jewels of your business

Do Burned CDs Have a Short Life Span?

John Blau, IDG News Service Tue Jan 10, 8:00 AM ET

Opinions vary on how to preserve data on digital storage media, such as optical CDs and DVDs. Kurt Gerecke, a physicist and storage expert at IBM Deutschland, has his own view: If you want to avoid having to burn new CDs every few years, use magnetic tapes to store all your pictures, videos and songs for a lifetime.

"Unlike pressed original CDs, burned CDs have a relatively short life span of between two to five years, depending on the quality of the CD," Gerecke says. "There are a few things you can do to extend the life of a burned CD, like keeping the disc in a cool, dark space, but not a whole lot more."

The problem is material degradation. Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as CD-R and CD-RW, have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in the data "shifting" on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the laser beam.

"Many of the cheap burnable CDs available at discount stores have a life span of around two years," Gerecke says. "Some of the better-quality discs offer a longer life span, of a maximum of five years."

Distinguishing high-quality burnable CDs from low-quality discs is difficult, he says, because few vendors use life span as a selling point.

Similar Limitations

Hard-drive disks also have their limitations, according to Gerecke. The problem with hard drives, he says, is not so much the disk itself as it is the disk bearing, which has a positioning function similar to a ball bearing. "If the hard drive uses an inexpensive disk bearing, that bearing will wear out faster than a more expensive one," he says. His recommendation: a hard-drive disk with 7200 revolutions per minute.

To overcome the preservation limitations of burnable CDs, Gerecke suggests using magnetic tapes, which, he claims, can have a life span of 30 years to 100 years, depending on their quality. "Even if magnetic tapes are also subject to degradation, they're still the superior storage media," he says.

But he's quick to point out that no storage medium lasts forever and, consequently, consumers and business alike need to have a migration plan to new storage technologies.

"Companies, in particular, need to be constantly looking at new storage technologies and have an archiving strategy that allows them to automatically migrate to new technologies," he says. "Otherwise, they're going to wind up in a dead-end. And for those sitting on terabytes of crucial data, that could be a colossal problem."

About Tape

Magnetic tape is a recording medium consisting of a thin strip of mylar tape with a coating of a fine magnetic material, used for recording analogue or digital data. Data is stored in frames across the width of the tape. The frames are grouped into blocks or records, which are separated from other blocks by gaps.

Magnetic tape is a serial access medium, similar to an audio cassette, and so data (like the songs on a music tape) cannot be quickly located.

However large amounts of information can be stored within magnetic tape. This characteristic has prompted its use in the regular backing up of hard disks.

The current devices to store and access information via magnetic tape include: 9 Track, 18 Track, 36 Track, DLT and LTO tape drives, as stand-alone units or as part of tape libraries. Each of these machine types provide various cost, data management and data access advantages that are explored separately.


Magnetic tape was first invented by Fritz Pfleumer in 1928 in Germany, based on the invention of the magnetic wire by Valdemar Poulsen in 1898.

It was not used to record data until 1951 on the Mauchly-Eckert UNIVAC I. The recording medium was a 1/2 inch wide thin band of nickel-plated bronze. Recording density was 128 characters per inch on eight tracks at a linear speed of 100 ips, yielding a data rate of 12,800 characters per second. Making allowance for the empty space between tape blocks, the actual transfer rate was around 7,200 characters per second.

IBM computers from the 1950s used oxide-coated tape similar to that used in audio recording, and IBM's technology soon became the de facto industry standard. Magnetic tape was half an inch wide and wound on removable reels 10.5 inches in diameter. Different lengths were available with 2400 feet and 4800 feet being common. Most modern magnetic tape systems use reels that are much smaller and are fixed inside a cartridge to protect the tape and facilitate handling. Modern cartridge formats include QIC, DAT, and Exabyte.

Early IBM tape drives were mechanically sophisticated floor-standing drives that used vacuum columns to buffer long u-shaped loops of tape. Between active control of powerful reel motors and vacuum control of these u-shaped tape loops, extremely rapid start and stop of the tape at the tape-to-head interface could be achieved. When active, the two tape reels thus spun in rapid, uneven, unsynchronized bursts resulting in visually-striking action. Stock shots of such vacuum-column tape drives in motion were widely used to represent "the computer" in movies and television.

LINCtape (and its derivative, DECtape) were variations on this "round tape." They were essentially a personal storage medium. They featured a fixed formatting track which, unlike standard tape, made it feasible to read and rewrite blocks repeatedly in place. LINCtapes and DECtapes had similar capacity and data transfer rate to the diskettes that displaced them, but their "seek times" were on the order of thirty seconds to a minute.

A tape drive (or "transport" or "deck") uses precisely-controlled motors to wind the tape from one reel to the other, passing a read/write head as it does. Early tape had seven parallel tracks of data along the length of the tape allowing six bit characters plus parity written across the tape. A typical recording density was 556 characters per inch. The tape had reflective marks near its end which signaled beginning of tape (BOT) and end of tape (EOT) to the hardware. Since then, a multitude of tape formats have been used, but common features emerge.

In a typical format, data is written to tape in blocks with inter-block gaps between them, and each block is written in a single operation with the tape running continuously during the write.

However, since the rate at which data is written or read to the tape drive is not deterministic, a tape drive usually has to cope with a difference between the rate at which data goes on and off the tape and the rate at which data is supplied or demanded by its host.

Various methods have been used alone and in combination to cope with this difference. A large memory buffer can be used to queue the data. The tape drive can be stopped, backed up, and restarted. The host can assist this process by choosing appropriate block sizes to send to the tape drive.

There is a complex trade-off between block size, the size of the data buffer in the record/playback deck, the percentage of tape lost on inter-block gaps, and read/write throughput.

Tape has quite a long data latency for random accesses since the deck must wind an average of 1/3 the tape length to move from one arbitrary data block to another. Most tape systems attempt to alleviate the intrinsic long latency using either indexing, whereby a separate lookup table is maintained which gives the physical tape location for a given data block number, or marking, whereby a tape mark that can be detected while winding the tape at high speed is written to the tape.

Most tape drives now include some kind of data compression. There are several algorithms which provide similar results: LZ (Most), IDRC (Exabyte), ALDC (IBM, QIC) and DLZ1 (DLT). The actual compression algorithms used are not the most effective known today, and better results can usually be obtained by turning off the compression built into the device and using a software compression program instead.

Tape remains a viable alternative to disk due to its higher bit density and lower cost per bit. Tape has historically offered enough advantage in these two areas above disk storage to make it a viable product. The recent vigorous innovation in disk storage density and price, coupled with less-vigorous innovation in tape storage, has reduced the viability of tape storage products.

9 track

Born in the 60's, and still alive today, 9 track is one of the longest running standards in the tape industry. At the time of introduction the average 50MB capacity was more than most computers could store and therefore made a nice backup option, as well as a reliable way to move data from one computer to the next.

In 2001, due to lack of demand, the last new reels of tape were produced and shipped by Graham Magnetics. Qualstar, the last to manufacture the 9 track drives, stopped making their new 9 track units at about the same time, for the same reason, lack of demand. However the units are still used throughout the world and millions of tapes are still stored for future use.

Pinetree still provides remanufactured 9-track drives as well as parts, repairs, and support for these manufacturers: StorageTek (STK) (Sun StorEdge), M4 Data, Kennedy and Overland Data.
Pinetree also provides 9-track tape drive media that has been reformatted, tested and ready for you to use.

9 Track Drive Specifications
(BPI-bits per inch)
800 NRZI (non return to zero, inverted)
1600 PE (phase encoded)
3200 PE (phase encoded)
6250 GCR (group code recording)
Capacities At 1600 bpi, a 2400-foot 9-track tape could hold about 50MB, depending on blocking.
Interfaces Pertec, STK, SCSI
Reel sizes (inches) 6, 7, 8.5 and 10.5
Tape speeds
(IPS – inches per second)
25, 50 and 100
Transfer rates 40KB/sec – 1500KB/sec
Recording modes Start/Stop and Streaming

18 track

3480 is the 1984 IBM standard specifications for 18 track tape drives.

3490 is the 1989 IBM IDRC standard that allowed for data compression for increased capacity on the same media.

These units came in single and dual drive configurations.
7-10 cartridge autoloaders were available on some units.
The ½ inch tape cartridges were easier to store and handle than the round reels, not to mention the storage capacity differences.

Pinetree Peripherals sells, repairs, offers advance exchanges and annual on site maintenance contracts for all StorageTek (Sun StorEdge), IBM and Fujitsu 18 Track Tape drives..
7-10 cartridge autoloaders were available on some units.
The ½ inch tape cartridges were easier to store and handle than the round reels, not to mention the storage capacity differences.

18 Track Drive Specifications
Media ½ inch tape cartridge
Capacities 400 to 1000 MB w/ICRC
Interfaces SCSI, STK, FIPS
Data transfer rate 2.9 – 5.0 MB sec SCSI burst

36 track

IBM introduced the 3490E tape drive in 1991. Its 36-track head was able to record 800 megabytes of data on a single tape. The IDRC option allowed it to record up to 2400 megabytes on a single extended tape. The last 36-track tape drive manufacturer, VDS, discontinued production late in 2004, after IBM announced that it would no longer supply 36-track thin film tape heads.

3490E tape drives were available from a variety of manufacturers with bus and tag, ESCON, or high voltage SCSI interfaces, and were capable of data transfer speeds up to 20MB per second.

While 3490E data cartridges are the same dimensions as 3480 cartridges, the tape media is the same only longer. 3490E tape is optimized for 36-track recording heads, instead of 18-track recording heads. Nevertheless, some 3480 tape drives can record on 3490E media.

Some 3490E tape drives are able to read tapes recorded by 3480 tape drives. Others can also write tapes that can be read by 3480 tape drives. But many 3490E tape drives can only read/write 36-track tapes.

18 Track Drive Specifications
Media ½ inch tape cartridge
Capacities 200 - 2400 MB
Interfaces SCSI-2 F&W S/E, F&W Diff., F&N S/E, F&N Diff.
Data transfer rate 20 MB's burst, synchronous mode 16 bit
10 MB's burst, synchronous mode 8 bit


Digital Linear Tape (DLT) is a magnetic tape data storage technology developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) from 1984 onwards.

In 1994 the technology was purchased by Quantum Corporation, who currently manufactures drives and licenses the technology and trademark.

DLT uses linear serpentine recording with multiple tracks on half-inch (12.7 mm) wide tape. The cartridges contain a single reel and the tape is pulled out of the cartridge by means of a leader tape attached to the take- up reel inside the drive. The drive leader tape is buckled to the cartridge leader during the load process. Tape speed and tension are controlled electronically via the reel motors; there is no capstan. The tape is guided by 4 to 6 rollers that touch only the back side of the tape. Tape material is metal particle tape (MP/AMP).
Digital Linear Tape - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

SDLT adds an optical servo system that reads servo patterns on the back of the tape.

This added functionality keeps the data tracks on the front of the tape correctly aligned with the read/write heads. This is important for newer tape media, which have very thin dense data tracks; 256, 384 and 768 data tracks on a half inch wide tape are now common.
Digital Linear Tape - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DLT tape drive repair services
DLT, SDLT Modular Tape Libraries

Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) is a high-speed, high-capacity magnetic tape data storage format developed and controlled by Sony.

Advanced Intelligent Tape competes mainly against the DLT, LTO, DAT/DDS, and VXA formats. AIT uses a cassette similar to Video8. Super AIT (SAIT) is a higher capacity variant using wider tape in a larger, single-spool cartridge. Both AIT and SAIT use the helical scan method of reading and writing the tape.


Linear Tape Open (LTO) is a magnetic tape data storage technology originally developed in the late 1990s

At that time there was a need for an open standards alternative to the proprietary magnetic tape formats that were currently available. The standard form-factor of LTO technology goes by the name Ultrium, the original version of which was released in 2000 and could hold 100 GB of data in a single cartridge. The most recent version (LTO-6) was released in December 2012 and can hold 2.5 TB in the same size cartridge. Since 2002, LTO has been the best selling “super tape” format.
Linear Tape-Open - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

LTO Tape Drive Specification Comparisons
LTO Modular Tape Libraries

Tape Libraries

In computer storage, a tape library, sometimes called a tape silo, tape robot or tape jukebox, is a storage device which contains one or more tape drives, a number of slots to hold tape cartridges, a barcode reader to identify tape cartridges and an automated method for loading tapes (a robot).
One of the earliest examples was the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System (MSS), announced in 1974.

These devices can store immense amounts of data, currently ranging from 20 terabytes up to 2.1 exabytes of data or multiple thousand times the capacity of a typical hard drive and well in excess of capacities achievable with network attached storage. Typical entry-level solutions cost around $10,000 USD, while high-end solutions can start at as much as $200,000 USD and cost well in excess of $1 million for a fully expanded and configured library.

For large data-storage, they are a cost-effective solution, with cost per gigabyte as low as 10 cents USD, or at least 60% less than most hard drives, and they also provide systematic access to very large quantities of data. The tradeoff for their larger capacity is their slower access time, which usually involves mechanical manipulation of tapes. Access to data in a library takes from several seconds to several minutes.

Because of their slow sequential access and huge capacity, tape libraries are primarily used for backups and as the final stage of digital archiving. A typical application of the latter would be an organization's extensive transaction record for legal or auditing purposes. Another example is hierarchical storage management (HSM), in which tape library is used to hold rarely used files from file systems.
Tape library - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DLT, SDLT Modular Tape Libraries
LTO Modular Tape Libraries