Formatting a tape?

Jerry McAllister jerrymc at
Thu Mar 19 11:37:49 PDT 2009

On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 12:15:48PM -0400, Jaime wrote:

> I have a DLT tape drive in a FreeBSD system.  With one of the tapes, I
> can get "tar -cvpf /dev/sa0 -C / ." to work.  With all the other
> tapes, I can't.
> Is there some kind of formatting process that I need to do?  I tried
> "mt fsf 1" from this page:
> This didn't seem to work, though.

Tapes do not need to be formatted, though the issue mentioned in the page
you indicate can cause problems.    I have seen it a lot on DAT (DDS) tapes
and never with a DLT.   On the DAT tapes, the solutions given on that page
have usually not helped for me.   But, since I have never had any problem
with DLT tapes, I can't say if they might be helpful.

You can try writing a block or two to the drive using dd(1).  That
occasionally helped with the DAT (DDS) tapes.
   dd count=10 if=/dev/zero of=/dev/nsa0

Seems like it should have a bs=nn in there too, but I can't remember
if the default of 512 is OK or not.


> Any help is appreciated,
> Jaime
> -- 
> "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."  --
> Henry David Thoreau
> Tone of voice in email is misunderstood 50% of the time.
> Source:
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