I'm contemplating an auto-loading tape drive as part of a backup strategy. This would be my first experience with tape backup. The cost-effectiveness of tape drives seems to depend on the assumption that they will provide many years of service. I'm having a difficult time assessing how many years of service to expect from a tape drive, however. They've got lots of moving and wearing parts to break, which implies that they ought to be repairable; but the product literature doesn't say much about repairs. Specifically, I'm looking for an answer to the following questions:
- Is it common to repair failing auto-loading tape drives? If so, who typically does the repairs? (manufacturer, third-party, in-house?) Also, how available are spare parts?
- If they're not commonly repaired, how do I assess how long a tape drive might last?
- Are there some brands or lines of auto-loading tape drives that are more reliable or serviceable than others?
Background: I'm mainly basing my understanding of tape drive maintenance on my experience with laser printers. Some entry-level printers are clearly not worth repairing at all. On the other hand, I'm still maintaining a few LaserJet 4V printers that are relatively straightforward to repair. I'm wondering where auto-loading tape drives fit on that spectrum.