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Using barcode readers?

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Hi all,


I have an Exabyte VXA2 packetloader 10 tape library. It came with bar code labels to put on the tapes, which I've used diligently since we got the unit. A few weeks ago, I decided to try a few tapes without the barcode labels, and the backup seems to work fine without them (Retrospect Server 6.0.204 on Mac OS X Server 10.3.9).


We've always put our own custom labels on the tapes (in addition to the barcodes), with the retrospect tape name on there: because if we do a restore and Retrospect asks us 'please insert tape named "1-Backup Set A"', then the barcode labels don't do us any good. And since we're putting our own labels on there, there seems to be no need for the barcodes at all.


Can anyone tell me if there are any downsides to not using the barcode labels with our Packetloader (or any other barcode capable drive)?



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That's what I figured.


It leaves me wondering: if retrospect asks you for tapes by name (for doing restores, recycle backups, etc), and not by barcode number, then how are the barcodes supposed to help with that? Or, how are you supposed to keep track of which tapes belong to which set when they're out of the loader?

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Like you, we've got a new Exabyte VXA-2 1x10 1u PacketLoader. Three comments:


(1) if you need to order more barcodes, the info on Exabyte's web site is a bit out of date. The only vendor I've been able to find is Tri-Optic (www.tri-optic.com), and their part numbers for Exabyte VXA-2 barcode labels are 1699-EB (8 alphanumeric characters) and 1699-EB6 (6 alphanumeric characters). There are 40 labels per sheet, $0.40 per label, or $16.00 per sheet (minimum order is $30.00 plus nominal shipping). There's no way to order from their web site because prices aren't given, you have to call Tri-Optic sales at 888-438-8362. I ordered some, they came in a few days, and are very nice. FYI the Exabyte bar code label spec document is at



You can see Tri-Optic's color PDF spec sheets at

https://www.tri-optic.com/LabelStoreMedia/pdfs/1699-EB.pdf and https://www.tri-optic.com/LabelStoreMedia/pdfs/1699-EB6.pdf


(2) To me, the value of barcodes is to manage/control your archival inventory, but that's just my opinion. Dantz/Retrospect has a different view, and uses the barcodes as simply advisory (the Retrospect tape name controls what tape is used for non-erased tapes) to speed up the locating of tapes in an autoloader. See page 41 of the Retrospect Users Guide. I've submitted a feature request to Dantz on this point for a future version, to have Retrospect take its tape names from the barcodes.


(3) There's also an issue whereby Retrospect, when needing an erased tape for New Media or when adding a member to a backup set at end-of-tape, will choose whatever erased tape it finds in the autoloader and use it and rename it to the name it needs, even if another erased tape of the needed name also exists in the autoloader. See page 43 of the Retrospect Users Guide. I've submitted a feature request to Dantz on this point, for a future version, to have Retrospect use a properly-named and erased tape in the autoloader if one exists, rather than the first erased tape it finds. There may be a partial workaround on this point because Retrospect seems to use the erased tapes from the highest-numbered slot first, looking bottom to top for an erased tape, so, if you put your barcoded tapes into the autoloader in the right order .....


If you agree with my feature request suggestions above (or if you've got improvements to my suggestions), I suggest that you email your feature request to Dantz's tech support - maybe if they see that there is a real need for this by customers with autoloaders, it will receive some priority for a future release.


Regards, hope this helps. Russ

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