I was recently asked to restore the backups of some HP Ultrium LTO-3 tapes to a portable HDD, the company that owned the tapes liquidized and the old CEO wanted the backups in a form they could read on their computer. All the servers and associated software was promptly sold but i had a LTO-3 drive at work and they said they used retrospect for backups and so do we.

It sounded like this would be an easy task (nothing ever is) but Retrospect (7.6.123) reported "Content unrecognized"

I thought that maybe the tapes where incompatible so i took one of the same model HP spares from that backup set and successful wrote data to it.

To me that made it look like it was just retrospect that unable to recognize the tape format and maybe the drive was backed up from another software/version. (the information about the server environment was 2nd hand, no guarantee of accuracy)

So my question is, without knowing the software the files where backed up with can i still restore from backup? What software can i use for this task?

The tape drive is connected to a Windows 2008 server.

  • 1
    Do the tapes definitely contain valid backups (i.e that have been successfully restored recently)? – Ben Pilbrow Aug 15 '11 at 23:18
  • honestly unknown. The company dissolved 6 months ago and the backups where made only just before the servers where wiped and sold. I have about 20 other tapes from the backup sets that i could test with that contain backups. I dont think the tapes where validated after backup but every one of these tapes are recording the same error in retrospect. – Silverfire Aug 15 '11 at 23:28
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    Try installing an evaluation of BackupExec and see if it's able to read the content of the tapes. – joeqwerty Aug 16 '11 at 2:58
  1. Write protect those tapes if you haven't already.
    (Seriously - do it now. We'll wait. You don't want to accidentally scratch a tape you need!)

  2. Try another backup program -- figure out what you might have been using
    (BackupExec like joeqwerty said is a good start. Not a Windows guy so I don't know what else they may have used, maybe ArcServe?)

  3. Google up some Data Recovery Places (not endorsements - just random links from Google!).
    These folks specialize in getting data back from tapes that have been beat to hell and back: Simply figuring out which backup software was used would probably be relatively simple.

  • Not a Windows guy? You could have fooled me. At any rate, you're certainly an "everything but Windows, but probably that too" guy. – joeqwerty Aug 17 '11 at 2:48

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