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Tape Back Hitching and Shoe Shining
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What is Tape Back Hitching or Shoe Shining?

Secure Data Recovery Services provides industry-leading data tape recovery services, and we regularly encounter damaged cartridges suffering from read/write issues.

What is Tape Back Hitching or Shoe Shining?

Repetitive backhitching can quickly wear out a tape cartridge, causing permanent data loss in some circumstances.

One of the most common failure symptoms for data tapes is back hitching, which occurs when a tape drive cannot transfer data at an acceptable speed. Modern drives need to maintain certain transfer rates in order to read and write data safely, and cannot perform normally under these thresholds.

To correct the issue, the tape drive will rewind, then re-attempt the read/write procedure. This is a normal function of the hardware, but if the drive is unable to complete successive attempts to read and write data, it will keep rewinding the tape and repeating the process. Because the tape moves back and forth over the heads of the drive, the effect is colloquially known as "shoe shining."

Shoe shining can contribute to data loss over time, as the repeated back-and-forth motion will wear the tape drive's read/write heads and negatively affect the readable portion of the tape. To avoid potential issues, you should monitor your tape drive's read/write speeds and replace media or hardware as needed.

Common problems associated with tape read/write issues include:

  • Loss of Tape Cartridge Capacity
  • Increased Risk of Read/Write Issues
  • Excessively Worn Tape Drive Heads
  • Low Data Transfer Rates
  • Data Loss

Acceptable thresholds for tape back hitching vary by format. Check your product documentation for more information and perform regular spot checks to make sure that your media is functioning correctly. Retire older tapes according to your media manufacturer's specifications and implement regular backup checks to prevent data loss.

What to Do if Your Tape Drive is Back Hitching

Some amount of back hitching is normal, particularly when using new hardware on an older computer system. However, you should not use any tape that creates a constant shoe shining effect during normal use. While you can sometimes avoid or minimize read/write issues by changing direct memory access (DMA) settings, severe shoe shining is a serious symptom that requires immediate action.

If the problem occurs regularly during a read or write process, you should turn your tape drive off right away. Retire the affected tape or tape drive. If you need to regain access to data on a damaged tape, contact our customer service team for assistance.

At Secure Data Recovery Services, we specialize in tape repair. Advantages of our services include:

  • Specialized Facilities for Fast Tape Repair and Recovery
  • 24/7/365 Emergency Data Recovery Services
  • Flexible Service Options
  • A 96 Percent Success Rate
  • SSAE 16 Type II Security Certification
  • Online Case Monitoring Tools and More
  • Support for All Tape Formats

Secure Data Recovery Services offers a dedicated resource for tape repair, media conversion and tape data recovery. Our engineers can safely treat your media in a certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom, restoring lost oxide and repairing physical damage. We offer the fastest and most secure way to regain access to any type of data tape, and with more than 40 facilities across the United States, we provide reliable results. To set up a new case or for more information, call our customer service team today.

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