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Drive Maintenance and Cleaning
Jane Hassler, Geneva Group, August 1995
The maintenance and cleaning of QIC drives is of great importance as new technologies enable higher-capacity, higher-performance tape solutions. Only a few years ago QIC-180-DC drives recorded on fifteen tracks. The new QIC-3010-MC and QIC-3020-MC minicartridge drives record on up to 50 tracks, and with recently announced new head and media technologies,144 tracks will be commercially available soon. Although QIC recording heads are of diverse material (brass, ferrite, or newthin-film magneto-resistive), all perform a basic function- the high speed, accurate recording and reading of data.
As a QIC drive passes magnetic tape over a read/write head, the physical contact between the head and the media may transfer excess metal particles from the tape to the head. Although infinitely small, this debris can create a separation in the head to tape interface and result in a less than perfect backup of data.
Contamination can occur in as few as four hours of operation, depending on the actual operating environment of your drive. In typical applications performed in normal office operating environments, however, particulate buildup will begin during eight hours of data recording time. Many QIC drive manufacturers recommend that pre-ventive maintenance be performed for every eight hours of tape motion.
But the intervals for cleaning should be shortened when a drive is used in a harsh environment. Cleaning of the drive is also critical after formatting a new tape, as new media creates higher levels of particulate deposit on the recording head.
Head cleaning is not a complicated procedure. Most new generation QIC drives feature built-in operational commands to control the process. All you need to do is insert a cleaning cartridge, and the drive does the rest, quickly and correctly.
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