Brian Ho (brianho) wrote,
Brian Ho
brianho

Extraction

I got to perform surgery at work today. Two Fridays ago the tape backup drive at work quit working. I discovered this when I returned from ASI on Monday last week. All the lights on the drive were flashing and the tape wouldn't eject. I disconnected the drive and took it to my desk, but I didn't get a chance to look at it all last week.

Yesterday I opened up the outer housing and was able to turn the gears to eject the tape. But when I put another tape in, I was pretty much back in the same position. The drive wouldn't respond and wouldn't eject the tape again. I had (many) other things to do, so it had to wait another day.

The tape cartridge that I had recovered fromt he drive yesterday felt too light, and upon examination was missing probably about 2/3 of its tape inside. I had thought that maybe it was defective, but today I decided I'd tear into the drive further. What I discovered was that all that tape was inside the drive itself.

Unlike a cassette tape or a videotape, these cartridges have only a single reel. So the drive itself pulls the tape out of the cartridge and winds it around a reel in the drive. Apparently the tape had broken, so all that tape was still wound around the wheel inside.

10:55
At 10:55 this morning I started pulling tape out of the drive.

10:58
Three minutes later, I had a nice pile of tape building.

11:00
Another two minutes and the tape was still coming.

11:03
By this time, several people from around the office (including Kristy seen here) had gathered around my cube to see what was up.

11:10
15 minutes after I started, I finally had all the tape out of the drive at 11:10.

12:01
I put the drive back together, but tapes still would not eject once inserted. So I spent about the next hour disassembling the drive to figure out what was wrong. It turned out that I needed to rethread the loading mechanism.

12:31
Finally at 12:31, about an hour and a half from go time, I had the drive reassemebled and succesfully loading and unloading tapes. I didn't test it until after business hours since I'd have to reboot the server for it to see the drive. Unfortunately, the server still didn't see it because I found that one of the pins of the SCSI cable had broken. So I guess it won't be until tomorrow before I can get a replacement cable and truly find out if my little operation was a complete success.
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