I have some LTO tape drives, and use cleaning tapes as required, but the lifetime of the cleaning tapes is not as predictable as I would have expected. I'm looking for a way to query the system, whether it be the robot (Quantum i6000) or Veritas Netbackup to see if the tape has actually expired.

Honestly I'm not exactly sure what causes a tape to be expired -- I'd assume it winds to the end and stops, so it doesn't reuse a previously used section. Currently Netbackup is storing the number of "available cleans" in the "number of times mounted" field, which always starts out at 50, but I've noticed cleaning tapes can expire after as few as 15 cleaning cycles, perhaps for a particularly dirty drive. Thanks.

  • 3
    Well, autoloader or not? If loaded manually then train the user, as when the cleaning band weared off it's length. (from one side to another) The cartridge is finished and the tape auto-eject it without a cleaning cycle.
    – yagmoth555
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 19:33
  • It's robotic controlled loader (Quantum i6000)... the only manual process is feeding the tapes into the I/E cap, then the robot handles it from there.
    – Tim S.
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 23:25
  • 1
    I can't answer the question. But perhaps I can clear out one misconception. LTO cartridges are single-reel. There is a second reel in the drive. This means that an LTO tape (including a cleaning tape) has to be rewound onto the reel in the cartridge before it can be removed from the drive. Removing the cartridge while there is still tape on the drive reel will damage the tape. So the winds to the end and stops explanation doesn't sound likely.
    – kasperd
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 8:40
  • Thanks -- I've since learned that about LTO tapes -- but there's no indication of how many times it can be effectively used. We ended up just picking an arbitrary number (50 as recommended by the drive vendor) and discard it after that many uses.
    – Tim S.
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 17:17
  • The number of times a drive can be used effectively will be determined by the environment in which it is operated. Unfortunately there is no easy way to determine the condition of the cleaning tape, or how effectively it is functioning after many cleaning runs. We too opted to go with the '50 uses' as recommended by the vendor. Cleaning tapes are passed over the various heads in the drive to collect dust and debris. They are only able to do this a finite number of times before they stop working effectively. (Think of them like a cleaning rag that gets dirty with extended use).
    – blacklight
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 22:25

4 Answers 4


Very simple with an IBM LTO cleaning cartridge and a Tivoli Server. (which means it may be slightly different for whatever hardware combination you're using) but the command I use is simply:

query libvolume f=d 

Or when "automatic cleaning" is enabled, the usage is accessed via:

 Main Menu > Usage Statistics > Cleaning Cartridge Usage 

Good luck and enjoy.

Oh and shelf life/uses is determined by manufacture, I don't ever go beyond 50. I get nervous at around 40 uses.

Edit/Update: Confirmed the label of a Quantum Cleaning Tape says maximum uses is 50. Tandberg and Fujifilm LTOs do not have their cleaning tapes marked accordingly with any recommendations on usage.


Quantum's official recommendation is to hand this task over to the backup application:

LTO Tape Drive Cleaning (Quantum Support).

This basically means that your backup software would have to handle the retention/expiration period of the barcoded cleaning tapes. If I recall correctly you should be able to enter an expiration date/period in Networker for individual tapes.

Related issues with retention/expiration policies can be found in the following articles in the Networker Support Forum:


As can be checked here, there are three kinds of Ultrium drives with respect to cleaning, those of types I, S and H. The number of cleanings a cartridge supports is entirely dependant on the drive type.

Drives of type I (from IBM) must be cleaned by a Type I cleaning cartridge (or an Universal cartridge), and a cartridge supports either 15 or 50 cleanings there, either an I cartridge or an universal one. These are e.g. the IBM 3580 (supporting 50 cleanings) or the IBM StorageSmart Half-Height (supporting 15).

Drives of type S (from Seagate) must be cleaned by a Type S cleaning cartridge (or an Universal cartridge), and a cartridge supports 50 cleanings there.

Drives of type H (from HP) must be cleaned by a type H cleaning cartridge (or an Universal cartridge), and a cartridge supports 15 cleanings there.


Googling slightly, it seems that apart from Netbackup-initiated cleanings, there could be additional cleanings initiated from elsewhere (your tape library/drives) and some of drives actually require regular cleaning. So you may want to check if this could be the case - I assume Netbackup wouldn't know about those.

  • This isn't the case -- only netbackup handles the cleaning of the drives. Thanks though!
    – Tim S.
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 18:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .