I have a Dell Powervault 114T with an IBM Ultrium 3 drive (SCSI) drive, and I have a batch of tapes that I can only write 210GB to. I did get the tapes from eBay, so I guess it isn't that surprising if they are all junk. The entire batch are imation media.

I do have two NEW maxell tapes and I can write around 380GB to them using tar no problem.

Here are some details:

OS - Debian 8 - SMP Debian 3.16.7-ckt11-1 (2015-05-24) x86_64 GNU/Linux

SCSI Host Card - LSI Logic / Symbios Logic 53c1030 PCI-X Fusion-MPT Dual Ultra320 SCSI

All of the imation tapes pass a basic test using:

IBM Tape Diagnostic Tool Standard Edition - Version:

but this is only a basic read/write test from what I understand.

If I try and do a full write, ALL of them get to around 210GB and then fail. I have set the drive compression off using ITDT, and when I run the full write test I use un-compressable data option, with 256k "blocksize".

Using ITDT using the "tape usage" option, all of the tapes reported 0 thread counts, so it leads me to believe that they were erased, and the internal flash chip erased as well.

I understand that if the drive works with a brand new tape that it isn't a drive issue, but it just seems odd that all 10 of these imation tapes would all fail right at the 210GB mark.

I have 2 other Fiber Channel LTO3 drives and I get the same results with those drives as well.

Should I just junk all the tapes that fail the write test?

Is there some way to 'format' a tape? (Erase fails with an error code 6 on the front of the drive on the imation tapes)

Any insight would help, this has been annoying me for a while.

  • 1
    200/400gb cartridge (imation) versus 400/800gb cartridge (maxell) ? LTO cartridge are retro compatible, maybe a bad label somehow. – yagmoth555 Jun 25 '15 at 3:24

Have you tried removing the partitions?

You could use the command

./itdt   -f /dev/<your drive> rmp

Then try to create partitions

./itdt   -f /dev/<your drive> sdp 

The command ./itdt -f /dev/<your drive> sdp0 in LTO5 drives accept the following parameters: value 0 as parameter will create only one partition, value 1 creates two, up to 3 (four partitions).

Note that LTO supports partitioning starting with 5th generation.


Make sure you really have LTO-3 tapes. LTO-3 drives will read and write to LTO-2 tapes, which have about 200GB of capacity.

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