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Upgrading tape drive firmware: Avoiding the pitfalls

Upgrading tape drive firmware: Avoiding the pitfalls

By Linda Gail Christie

Taking a few simple precautions during a tape drive firmware upgrade process can save you a lot of headaches. Here are some tips from Shugart Technology CTO and VP Engineering, Ed Barnes:

  • Set aside a few cartridges (by barcode number) for your tape library just for testing. This way you will not accidentally corrupt live backup data. Be sure your backup software excludes them, or better yet, keep the test cartridges out of the library until you need them.
  • Don't upgrade firmware to fix a problem that doesn't affect you. Sometimes this only introduces unexpected problems.
  • Before installing new firmware, be sure the backup software and hardware vendors have certified that the revision(s) work together.
  • Be sure to save an image of the old firmware. This way, you have the option to reverse the revision if any problems occur.
  • Keep a log of all changes for each storage device. This may help isolate or correlate a problem with a change.
  • After upgrading your firmware, power cycle the unit to ensure that the firmware is running. Sometimes rebooting will work, however power cycling removes all doubt.
  • After power cycling your system, do an "INQUIRY" on all SCSI protocol devices to be sure the upgrade stuck. The INQUIRY command will report revision levels as part of its response data.
  • After confirming the firmware is active, test your system before you need it to function-even if the vendors have certified the version level. A "dry run" may detect an unexpected problem caused by an untested combination in your shop.

For more information about Shugart Technologies, visit their Website at,

About the author: Storage management tips are written by Linda Gail Christie, a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.

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