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We have an IBM LTO 3 tape drive that needs repaired and with the £400 price tag i'm having to shop around for quotes. My question is has anyone actually repaired one before and how was in done?

The first error LED was showing a 6, then i cleared the mangled tape only for it to start flashing alternate 'o' on the 7 segment display, simliar to a half 8, flashing top to bottom and it would just flash away like that coupled with a flashing amber light. I tried a reset holding the eject button for it to show an 'r' the go back to flashing again as before.

I checked the IBM solutions for the codes but this flashing isn't documented at all.

Would be great if anyone had any experience in this area.

Thank you,


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If it isn't under warranty I'd strongly consider getting an LTO4 drive.

IBM LTO4 : 30-120MB/s 800GB native (45-240MB/s compressed)
IBM LTO3 : 40- 80MB/s 400GB native (60-160MB/s compressed) shows minimum tape speeds for LTO3 and LTO4. Most LTO4 drives actually have a lower minimum speed than LTO3 drives. This is important as "shoe-shining" reduces longevity of the drive and tapes.

You have to be careful to buy one that has a lower minimum speed as each brand/model combination is different and they don't advertise the minimum speed as much as the maximum. There is no grantee that Drives in 2010 will match the specs shown in the PDF above from 2008.

You can continue to use your LTO3 tapes in the LTO4 drive but as time goes on and you buy new tapes you can start buying LTO4 as needed. shows my current battle with LTO3.

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+1, don't "try to fix" critical backup mechanisms; just replace it. Letting critical systems lapse out of warranty was a mistake too. – Chris S Jun 8 '10 at 2:17

If the failure is mechanical, just try to disassemble the drive yourself. There is not much magic. If you are really lucky it will more-or-less work after that. Just don't use hammer.

I remember that there was a company in Germany that fixed LTO drives. Can't remember the name though :((( This was back in LTO1 times which died like crazy. If successful, the cost was around 800-1000 EUR (even though we mailed them a drive from Poland each month or two).

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Is the server that the tape drive is hooked up to under warranty?

If it isn't, I'd suggest that you put it into a server that is covered by warranty.

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Thanks to everyone who answered this. I ended up contacting a repair company with a price tag of £295 - £495 for the repair. My work are quite happy to pay it, so i sent it away to get repaired. The future of this medium however is debatable and LTO-4 sounds like the perfect solution. However this is for another years IT Budget. Our back-up is nudging 800Gb everyday to NAS-box and without JPG/AVI and other files the main critical back-up is close to 500Gb, so the future of back-ups will need to be addressed.

Thanks Paul

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