I have just recently graduated college and have received a job working at a web development company. I have been assigned the task of setting up a proper tape drive backup system. Essentially, I will be using "Windows Backup Utility" to run the process. I currently have a Quantum DAT Tape Drive connected to the server that I wish to back up. I have also just recently bought brand new tapes for the job.

Unfortunately I am not as experienced with tape backups and need some help. How do I go about formatting a new tape so that in future uses when it is inserted into the drive, the data will be erased and replaced with the newer backups? Is there a specific way they need to be formatted or titled in for the drives to work properly?


Any decent backup software will take care of this automatically. The software knows what backup jobs are on each tape and knows when those jobs expire. Once all of the jobs on a certain tape expire, it knows it can re-use the tape.

  • Makes sense. However do I have to set up the expiration date on those tapes, and how would I do that? – GMitch Jun 1 '11 at 17:36
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    As Chris mentioned, you really ought to look at using something other than the very anemic Windows Backup utility. I'm not even certain that the WBU has a concept of job expiration. – EEAA Jun 1 '11 at 17:38
  • ++ @ErikA. In decent backup software, you don't expire tapes, you expire savesets (or whatever terminology.) – mfinni Jun 1 '11 at 18:46

Formatting a tape in a standard drive might destroy the tape. Most new tape drives interpret "format" to mean "full erase", avoiding the problem. Older drives/software may not and will commonly eat your tape.

If you need to fully erase tapes before backing up to them I strongly suggest getting better backup software than the minimalist Windows Backup. While Windows Backup might get the job done, it's a long way from full featured and you'll find yourself hacking things into working the way you want. This is unsupportable in the long term and will require a myriad of documentation to properly maintain.

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