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Keeping track of your tapes - advice

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How do other organisations keep track of your tapes. We use LTO 3 autoloaders and the tapes are barcoded. Since we cant get a report that lists what tapes (and with their barcodes) are assigned to what backupset how do others manage week1, week2 week3, end of month etc.



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We barcode our tapes to match the member and backup set names.


We have sets of tapes going back to 1992, and don't re-use tapes. When the set fills, we put them away and refill the autoloader.


The backup sets are named by media (DAT or VXA, and we haven't made any new DAT tapes in about four years) and backup set number as incremented automatically by Retrospect (we've got the Mac version, but I think that the tape member naming logic is similar in both versions).


So, here's a typical chart of matching tape member names and barcodes to backup set names:

  • Primary Backup Set name: VXA Set A [010]
    First Member: 1-VXA Set A [010]
    Barcode: 1-A 0010
    Second Member: 2-VXA Set A [010]
    Barcode: 2-A 0010
    Secondary Backup Set Name: VXA Set B [010]
    First Member: 1-VXA Set B [010]
    Barcode: 1-B 0010
    Second Member: 2-VXA Set B [010]
    Barcode: 2-B 0010

The key insight was to make the member names relate to the barcodes.


Now, there is a long-standing bug on the Mac version that was fixed years ago on the Windows version, which makes this scheme difficult but not impossible. The Mac version, when looking for a new (erased) tape to append as a member or to start a new backup set (on a scheduled "new media" backup), will ignore the names of pre-erased, pre-named, barcoded tapes in the autoloader and will whimsically choose from whatever erased tapes are in the autoloader, regardless of their names, and regardless of whether an erased tape already is in the autoloader with the correct pre-named name that it wants. This makes unattended backups impossible, and you can't just fill up the autoloader with pre-named, pre-barcoded, erased tapes and let the scheduler go. On the Mac version, the only workaround is to let the backup fail when a new tape is needed, then, when you get the failure email the next day, to put in the correct pre-named, pre-erased tape. EMC (and Dantz before them) have refused to fix this bug that I reported years ago under our service contract on the Mac version.


There's a related issue in that there is no way to edit/change the mapping of barcodes to tape member names. The mapping is in a binary Retrospect data file, and the only option (a hidden option) is to erase that database mapping, and the only way to re-create it after erasing the database is to use Retrospect to verify, one by one, each of your hundreds of tapes in your archive to cause Retrospect to read the header and associate it with the barcode on the tape. See:

How to Clear Barcode Information


I put in a feature request a couple of years back to either make the barcode to member name mapping file an editable text file, or to provide a GUI interface for changing it, or for providing the specs for that file so that I could write my own code to change the mapping. That request went into the black hole, so to speak. Perhaps I am one of the few, like you, who use barcoded tapes.


By the way, the best source I have found for barcodes is Tri-Optic:

Tri-Optic barcodes


Reasonable prices, fast delivery, good customer service. It's easy (and no extra cost) to create barcodes to whatever scheme you need. They have barcodes for all types of media.


Hope this helps,



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