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Cannot get cleaning tapes to work

Created: 06 Mar 2013 • Updated: 28 Apr 2013 | 11 comments
This issue has been solved. See solution.

I was asked to help with one of our older Netbackup environments and I saw that tape drive cleanings were not happening. This environment is going to be retired this year but I have to get it as stable as possible until then. This is a 6.5.1 environment. I drives are HCART3 so I added the new cleaning tape which is for LTO5 & below. I then created a barcode rule as seen


As you can see it went in the proper pool (None)

I then chose Clean Now

Chose the Master

Here is what I'm getting...I'm missing something but not sure what?? Above you saw that evrything sees the tape and it has plenty of cleanings left??

Operating Systems:

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Will Restore's picture

Maximum Cleanings default is 25.  OK

Under Media and Device management > Media

select your cleaning tapes, scroll over to Cleanings Remaining column, and ensure they're > 0.

This number is decremented with each cleaning and when it is zero, NetBackup stops using the tape.

You then must change the cleaning tape or increase the number of cleanings that remain.

Will Restore -- where there is a Will there is a way

StefanosM's picture

First off all, all LTO cleaning tapes have 50 cleaning and not 25. All except LTO1

There is a possibility that the tape has no cleaning left. The cartage has a chip and counts the cleaning so if you used the tape for cleaning other drives and you pass 50 cleaning it will not work.

Use a new tape, to be sure that it can clean the drives.

And know that IBM drives required cleaning every 16TB

mph999's picture

"And know that IBM drives required cleaning every 16TB"

Who on earth came up with that :

I don't see how a statement like that can be made.

IBM drives need cleaning when they 'ask' to be cleaned, eg, the light starts flashing ???

How do I know this - for a start, I used to look after about 436 IBM tape drives, they only got cleaned when the 'light flashed' - we didn't get any issues.

A given drive used in a perfectly clean environment, with brand new tapee might need cleaning sooner than the exact same drive using the same new media that has been run through the drive a couple of times.

(Some makes of new media contains 'tape dust' left on the edges of the tae from when it is sliced into stripes duringin manufacture - the first couple of times this tape is used, all this 'dust' ends up in your tape drive).

As tapes wear, the oxide wears off the surface - so older tapes used in a drives, would likely cause that drive to need cleaning more often than newer tapes used in the same drive.

A drive used in a not perfectly clean environment will need cleaning more often., than one that isn't.

So how anybody can state a drive needs cleaning every 16TB is wrong, even if that came from a manufacturer themselves, it's wrong - or at the least, bad advice.

The firmware of the drive shoud monitor the performance and this alone should decide when cleaning is required and send out a TAPEALERT and flash te cleaning light.


Regards,  Martin
Setting Logs in NetBackup:
RLeon's picture

Cleaning tape in the none pool:

Cleaning count above 0:
Check. (Double check by right clicking on the tape>change, make sure the cleaning count is above 0.)

Cleaning tape is under the same robot number as the drive:
Right click on the drive in the device monitor>drive details, make sure the robot number is the same as that associated with the cleaning tape.

Cleaning tape has the right media type for the hcart3 drive:
In case the barcode rule didn't work for some reason, so to be sure...
<nbu path>/Volmgr/bin/vmchange -new_mt hcart_clean3 -m CLNU01
<nbu path>/Volmgr/bin/vmchange -new_mt hcart_clean3 -m CLNU66

Marianne's picture

Please show us output of the following (just to be 100% sure that all attributes are correct):
vmquery -m CLNU01
tpconfig -l

Supporting Storage Foundation and VCS on Unix and Windows as well as NetBackup on Unix and Windows
Handy NBU Links

StefanosM's picture

@ mph999

I do not say that you must do a MANUAL cleaning every 16 TB.

I came across a document that IBM drives required cleaning (via tape alert) every 16TB. At least this is true for LTO3 and LTO4 drives. I do not know the value for LTO5.

Ask your customers with many data, how much cleaning tapes they use every month and compare those having IBM drives versus HP drives.

I'm trying to find this document. If I find it I will post it. But as you are a Symantec employ, perhaps you can ask IBM about the cleaning behavior of their drives.


mph999's picture

Believe it or not, I did once ask IBM this very question (we thought we had an issue, it turned out that in fact we did not).

The question I asked, was 'How often approximately would your drives need cleaning', having explained how many hours a day they were in use.

The very helpful answer I received - "Not very often".

Certainly, they did not say every 16TB.

However, you mentioned 'via Tapealert' - therefore it must be hardcoded into the firmware, so they (IBM) must have decided that this is maximum value at which the drive will be cleaned, oh well you leave something new everyday ...

Believe it or not, we don't have an 'open' line through to other vendors.  There are ways we can talk to them directly, but unfortunately I have no way of doing this with a question of my own.


Regards,  Martin
Setting Logs in NetBackup:
StefanosM's picture


I understand that the relationship with other vendors is not easy. With some is good with others terrible.

I read about the cleaning limit in a document that I can not find now. But I read it, some years ago.

My experience is that everybody is using there drives spend more cleaning tapes that others using HP tapes. In fact the HP tape users "does not know" what a cleaning tape is.

Again, this is my 14 years experience.


jmanini's picture

HI Everybody thank you for all of your replies...It seems like the IBM drive has issues...I did not even think to try thr HP drives which were able to be cleaned...sorry for the fire drill and thanks again..

Lesson learned

Joe Manini * Senior Technical Specialist * MCSE *

SunGard Higher Education

Marianne's picture

I would like to see what is different about the IBM drive. The error is NBU believing that there is no suitable cleaning tape for this drive.

Please post output of 'tpconfig -l'?

Supporting Storage Foundation and VCS on Unix and Windows as well as NetBackup on Unix and Windows
Handy NBU Links

Rusty Major's picture

You can use robtest to manually move the tapes into each drive and that will clean them. If able, you (or someone else) could also manually open the library door and put the tapes in the drives needing cleaning. It would also help weed out any problems with the tape drive and cleaning tape since you are manually putting it in there and not relying on NBU to issue the mount request.

This won't solve your long term problem, but it will get you past needing to clean the drives.