I've got old backup tapes I need to pull data from that were created with Backup Exec some years ago, but unfortunately we no longer run Windows servers on our network. Our entire tape backup system is running on an Ubuntu Lucid server setup now with tar/dump/mtx to backup and control the tape library (we have a Dell PowerVault TL2000)

What's the easiest way for me to read in the data from the Backup Exec tapes? Is there a route to doing this with *nix servers or is it a completely proprietary format? I'd really prefer not to setup another machine with Windows Server and Backup Exec just to pull data off of these tapes, but if that's the only way, then so be it...

Anyone been in this situation before?

1 Answer 1


I don't have a solid answer for you, but additional useful information is :

"Backup Exec shares the same Microsoft Tape Format with Windows' built-in NTBackup."

So, if you can install a Windows server (or workstation, like XP or 2k) with NTBackup, you might be able to restore this there, and then move the files off. Beats having to pay for BE.

If that doesn't work, you'll probably have the best luck by going to a data recovery service. Doing something like this will be a hell of lot cheaper than their bread-and-butter stuff like recovery from erasures/formats. You might even be able to get a cheaper price from a generic local IT service company - BE is very common in small environments, so you ought to be able to network and find someone within a close drive that can help you.

/edit - of course, you could always write something conforming to the doc I found here:

Microsoft ™ Tape Format Specification Version 1.00a - document rev. 1.8 September 15,

  • Looks like this is what I'm going to have to do... Not too bad, just involves moving a SAS card from one of the servers to an old one that I can put Windows on... Hopefully I can get dumps of all the old BE tapes and move them to the new setup!
    – colemanm
    Jan 20, 2011 at 18:51
  • Good luck, have fun!
    – mfinni
    Jan 20, 2011 at 18:57

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