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There are many ways to monitor block device performance: dstat and iostat, heck, even sar will give you data on block device I/O rates. Unfortunately, I don't know of any good spur-of-the-moment tools for monitoring the performance of a character device like a tape drive.

I know there are tools to monitor performance if you remember in advance to do it (pv, dd + SIGUSR1, probably others), but say you're 2 hours into a job that might be 3 hours or 30 hours depending on the performance, and you don't know which it is.

The only thing I can think of is some elaborate use of strace or similar, parsing the output for bytes written, maybe with timestamps. Is there a commonly used tool that I've forgotten or never heard of?

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Have you checked if the device offers ay stats via SNMP? – Sameer May 14 '11 at 6:01
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I found a SystemTAP script for SCSI tape devices:

I haven't tried it; don't know what kind of shape it's in.

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This looks very nice; I've been wanting to learn more about SystemTAP. – Slartibartfast May 16 '11 at 4:43
Just listing the name of another unteseted tool is not a very useful answer. We all have search engines. – Shaun Dewberry Apr 4 '14 at 10:09

As I know, HP has a program which can check HP tape device's performance. You can find it on here

I guess other tape device vendors also have similar tools for monitoring tape device's real time status. You can check their website for this kind of applications. Good luck.

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