Autoloader Fun

I don’t speak about work much, mostly due to the fear of getting dooced.

I figure, however, that if I speak vaguely and not rant about anything I should be alright. Also, this small post revolves around a piece of technology that I happen to use at work. Safe harbor? Maybe.

On Wednesday of this week my Dell Tape Autoloader decided that it has had about enough of this ‘working for a living’ garbage and quit. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it had decided to quit and join the circus until Thursday when I went over my daily backup log email. So I walk into the room only to find that it has had a “mechanical error”. I put that in quotes due to the fact that the ACTUAL error code was red LED and a cryptic set of numbers that I had to scour the internet to find meaning for. /Begin Tangent – Anyone else notice that there is SO much information out there in a myriad of forms and hierarchies that it is HARDER to find the exact answers then it used to be? /End Tangent.

Moving on….after trying the good old fashioned technology fix (turn on/off) to no avail, I began to look up the Service Tag for tech support service. Lo and behold, the warranty for this device had expired in September of 2008. Oh JOY!!

I called tech support anyways, and began working with the Dell tech (based out of Round Rock, TX and speaking ENGLISH!!!). He informed me that he could help me even though the warranty had expired, but if I required replacement hardware that I would need to get a new service contract. I had already put those gears and cogs into motion and all I was waiting for was the approval.

Since I was out of warranty at that point, he had me open the device and see if any of the trays had ‘jumped the track’. An autoloader basically works by having the actual drive in the center of the device and the tapes rotating in cages around in a carousel manner. So if one of these cages was off the track, the thing throws a “mechanical error”. To me everything looked good, so after a few more tests and about 3 minutes of false hope, a new device was ordered for me.

It arrived around noon today and I had it mounted in the rack within a few moments. Only thing left to do was plug it into the server and make sure everybody was talking to each other. I’m not gonna bore you with all the technical stuff…but the process seemed daunting. This was partially due to the fact that we use an old version of backup software AND their documentation is atrociously setup. (Side Note: Yes Phil, I know about Volume Shadow Copy! There is a plan in the works to goto DPM for all our offices, but until then it’s tapes for me!!)

Come to find out, one server restart, a few right clicks, a couple of auto configures, and one inventory job later….I’m looking good to go.

Here’s to hoping the thing works and I don’t have to do this all over again on Monday!

  1. #1 by Jon Angliss on March 6, 2009 8:58 pm - 8:58 pm

    You don’t miss the good ol’ BackupExec then? 😉

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