I would try something other than ARCServe to back up to the tape drive. Start with NETBackup. If it DOESN'T work with NETBackup, then you DO have a hardware problem. But if it's able to back up and restore with the drive with no problem, then you don't have a hardware problem.
If it appears to be a software problem and you really want to start some fires, download an evaluation copy of another commercial product and try that. Then call CA and tell them the your evaluation version of backup product XYZ seems to work just fine but ARCServe doesn't. Ask them what you should do now.
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This was first published in May 2002