When is a tape not a tape? When it’s a Tandberg RDX Quikstor RDX cartridge! In this Tandberg RDX Quikstor data recovery case study, a client from a medical clinic came to us with what appeared to be magnetic tape drives. But there were more to these Tandberg tape drive cartridges than meets the eye. Inside these cartridges were not spools of magnetic tape, but rather Toshiba hard drives. These specific devices were basically designed to integrate hard drives into tape-based archival storage systems. That is what this client’s medical clinic had done. Eventually, the hard drives failed due to a logical issue. The client brought the cartridges to us for our data recovery services.
At Gillware, we see these kinds of tape-adapted hard drives every once in a blue moon. There are a few common ways the data on them can become inaccessible. For starters, they can just break. We’re certainly no strangers to data storage devices breaking here at Gillware. Repairing them is a simple matter.
These drives are sometimes protected by a BIOS password. When we see these cartridges come in our lab, sometimes it’s just because nobody remembers the password. Fortunately, this isn’t like the full-drive encryption we normally see on hard drives. Our data recovery scientists can hack around the BIOS password.
Sometimes the drives are physically fine, but have suffered a logical failure. The client may have tried a publicly available data recovery software tool. But because these tape drives have a somewhat exotic logical layout, these tools usually just throw up their hands and give up. However, our own proprietary data recovery tools eat these kinds of things for breakfast.
Tandberg RDX Quikstor data recovery cases are a rare sight in our data recovery lab. But when they do show up, they are usually quick fixes for our data recovery experts. In this case, we were able to get around the logical issue using our intelligent forensic analysis software HOMBRE. Our engineers retrieved the data for this clinic in just a few days.
Magnetic tape storage today seems like a relic of a bygone age. Cassette players have long since been replaced by iPods and the like. VHS tapes have been superseded by DVD and Blu-Ray disks (although one VHS player manufacturer stayed in the game until 2016). Tape drives were great for high-capacity data storage in the 80s and 90s (although hard drives were much faster). But eventually, hard drives overtook tape drives in the consumer market. Is there any use for this quaint, old piece of data storage technology?
As a matter of fact, there is. Magnetic tape still sees use on a scale that may seem surprising. Tape drives are more rugged and durable than hard drives. Try dropping a VHS tape (if you can find one) and a hard drive from the same height and see which one survives! (Note: make sure anything important on the drive was backed up first.) And as scale increases, the cost per-gigabyte of tape storage actually falls below that of disk storage. Creating a storage array in the range of dozens or thousands or millions of terabytes of data out of hard drives is completely, utterly unfeasible. But not if you make it out of tape drives.
Tape libraries today see use as the ultimate in archival data storage and backup. It is possible for a tape library to hold over an exabyte (one million terabytes) of data. While data access is extremely slow, tape drives in these libraries have a much longer life than hard drives, ensuring access to their data decades or even centuries into the future. Tape libraries of varying sizes can still be found in any organization that needs data retrievable for a long time in the future. These types of data storage are referred to as “nearline storage”.
At Gillware, we don’t see tape-based and tape-associated storage devices very often. But when we do, we are very good at salvaging the data off of them. If you have any Tandberg RDX Quikstor data recovery needs, contact one of our recovery client advisers to set up a case with us.