Sticking points

Sticky labels and tape libraries do not mix.


Sticking points
Rick Cook

Ever since the days when audio cassettes were used for data storage, stick-on labels of various sorts have been used to identify removable data storage. However, using stick-on labels, colored dots, etc. on tape cartridges in tape libraries can mean a crashed library and a repair bill that's not covered by warranty.

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Ever since the days when audio cassettes were used for data storage, stick-on labels of various sorts have been used to identify removable data storage. However using stick-on labels, colored dots, etc. on tape cartridges in tape libraries can mean a crashed library and a repair bill that's not covered by warranty.

The problem is heat and friction. The innards of a tape library can be significantly warmer than the outside temperature and the library robotics can scrape against the tape cartridges. The result can be small, sticky fragments of paper all over the inside of your library doing everything from blocking the bar code reader to quite literally gumming up the works.

The manuals on most tape libraries warn against using any labels on the cartridges except specially designed bar coded ones which are meant for tape library cartridges. They also warn that using such labels can void the library's warranty. Either the manual or the library manufacturer can give you suggestions for marking the cartridges without using labels, dots and such.

EMC stresses this in a white paper on tape backups on its web site at: http://www.emc.com/pdf/products/clariion/backuptech_wpl.PDF.


Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.


This was first published in October 2001

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