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  1. #1
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    LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    This one is really bizarre -- I'm not absolutely sure what is going on, and I'm at a loss over what to do.

    I am running Windows XP with SP1. I back up my system on tape using Windows XP's built in backup utility. Last summer I purchased an IBM LTO-1 tape drive for my computer. (I know this is an unusual backup medium for a single user, but I do some work with sound recording and photography, and tape is the only medium I know that has sufficient backup and archive capacity for my needs. It has been my preferred backup medium for nearly 20 years, and served me well until this problem occurred.)

    The tape drive worked perfectly for several months, then my backup runs started freezing. Typically the system announced that it was mounting the tape, then nothing happened -- the tape never moved, and the operation never completed. Once this occurred, no further tape operations were possible. I could dismount the tape by holding down the drive's eject button, but Windows still thought the tape was there. I could reboot, and Windows still thought the tape was there. Only powering the system down would clear the problem.

    I spent several months trying to diagnose the problem. Hardware diagnostics said the drive is working perfectly, which implied a software problem. I kept asking myself: what changed? I finally realized that a couple of weeks before the problem first occurred I had replaced Norton Antivirus 2005 with ZoneAlarm. I replace ZoneAlarm with a new copy of Norton Internet Security 2007. Presto, the problem went away.

    That was in early January. Now the problem is back. I date its return from shortly after Norton installed a software update on itself late last month. I'm not saying this caused the problem; I can't prove that. But I'm suspicious.

    I have searched the web for clues, but found nothing that looked relevant. Can anyone make suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    You need to determine with certainty whether it is hardware or software based. Until you know the source, troubleshooting is crap shooting.

    First suggestion: start with a clean boot and see if the problem persists. <UL><LI>If the problem is not present when you disable startup items and services, add them back one at a time until the problem recurs. This will determine software culprit(s).<LI>If the problem still exists, you might want to consider a parallel installation of Windows XP (provided you have the space). If space is an issue, a repair or in-place upgrade may correct the problem.[/list]Second suggestion: try the drive on another computer to eliminate the possibility that it's hardware in your PC tower that is causing the malfunction. This will go far in helping to determine if the drive itself is faulty, and in fact is the problem itself.

    Third suggestion: install Service Pack 2, because you would almost certainly be told the same thing by IBM or Microsoft support. Making sure your software is up to date is always prudent when troubleshooting.

    Hope that helps,
    -Mark

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    I will try the clean-boot approach as time permits. I certainly know where to start: I think there's a very high probability that restarting without Norton Internet Security (after unplugging the network card!) will eliminate the problem.

    I have wanted to install Service Pack 2 for a long time, and tried over the Christmas holidays. Microsoft's download site was so bollixed up that I couldn't get it. While I was trying to make it work I stumbled across a warning about a system-disabling bug in SP2 that was discovered shortly after release and has never been fixed -- it has never even been documented in Microsoft's knowledge base. I can determine whether that bug will affect my own system (the chances are slim), but this makes me very suspicious: if the service pack contains one such bug, why should it not contain more?

    For many years I have worked from the assumption that Microsoft is incapable of getting anything right until the third try. I approached the task of installing SP2 with the attitude that they must have gotten their act together by now, and it was time to cut them some slack. I was mistaken; they haven't learned a thing.

    I am not going to risk installing SP2 until I have an ironclad backup and know I can restore it. When I contemplate installing SP2 to solve a problem of unreliable backup, of course, this creates a dilemma!

    You suggested a parallel installation of XP. I have purchased a copy of PartitionMaster for that purpose, but so far I have been reluctant to try it: the ironclad backup issue again. I understand the program's reputation is extremely good, but I once had a VERY bad experience with another product from the same publisher (before they were acquired by Symantec), which makes me nervous about it.

    Moving the tape drive to another computer is unfortunately not an option, because I have no other computer to move it to.

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    Let's hope that clean booting provides an answers or three. Regarding
    <hr>if the service pack contains one such bug, why should it not contain more?<hr>
    all software is basically incomplete, you just freeze the code and ship it. For SP2, Microsoft actually put quite a lot of effort into testing it to minimize any problems that might come up. The incidence of problems in the wild is very small. However... can't blame you for not applying it without a known working backup!

    Keep us posted.
    -Mark

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    I'd strongly second Mark's recommnedation of SP-2. There were a very few well documented issues with the SP-2 installation that were resolved rather quickly. More details of the warning you found or a link would be good. Perhaps someone here has seen this or knows of a workaround. You ought to look at some of the links at Windows XP Service Pack 2 Resources for IT Professionals and Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). I'd also recommend that in the Download section you use the download for multiple systems. Don't worry about the name, this just allows you to download the complete service pack and save it. That way you don't have to worry about download issues during installation. One of the problems I mentioned above was an issue in the Windows/Microsoft update process when SP-2 was initially released.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    (Edited by HansV to make URL clickable - see <!help=19>Help 19<!/help>)

    >More details of the warning you found or a link would be good. Perhaps someone here has seen this or knows of a workaround.

    Google following search terms, and you'll find lots of references.

    "Windows XP" "service pack 2" Prescott cache

    Here's one that explains the problem directly and clearly: http://www.technical-assistance.co.u...p2prescott.php

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    The section called "How can I predict this" at XP SP2 vs. Intel Prescott (the very first link on my Windows XP" "service pack 2" Prescott cache - Google Search) is a very clear about what to do. This has been resolved for a long time (2 1/2 years).

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    I think you misinterpreted my statements. I know the problem can be identified, and said so. I know it can be fixed, and identified a web site that explains how. That is not the point.

    Put yourself in the user's shoes. You install SP2 on your computer, and it won't boot. If you have any expertise you try to reboot into safe mode, but that doesn't work, either. Now what? You're not going to find the explanation and instructions unless you have quite a lot of expertise, because the visible symptoms give you no clue of what to look for. Even if you knew what to look for, the most obvious and authoritative source of information, Microsoft's Knowledge Base, does not even contain the answer.

    This is not merely a show-stopper bug; it is an especially vicious one because it leaves most users with no means of recovery. Yet two years after the bug was discovered Microsoft has not remediated it, or even documented it in the Knowledge Base. This is incompetence, compounded twice.

    I said, "If the service pack contains one such bug, why should it not contain more?" I think there's really nothing more to say.

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    The remediation was to update the BIOS. How can a BIOS update be a Microsoft issue? If you noticed in the link, Intel provided a program to determine if your processor was at risk. INTEL not Microsoft. And yes, SP-2 had other bugs. A very few caused problems with installation. Those have been well documented all over the internet and have been resolved AFAIK. There are some bugs which have been fixed by subsequent patches. Some have not yet been discovered. And yes you may be the one to discover a brand new bug that would cause SP-2 not to install properly. You could also step off a curb and get hit by a bus, run over at train crossing, or be involved in an airplane disaster. The point being that the odds of all these are small as is SP-2 causing a severe problem with your PC. You should take the precaution as you have mentioned of a complete backup.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    >The remediation was to update the BIOS. How can a BIOS update be a Microsoft issue?

    You need to understand the between remediation and correction.

    >If you noticed in the link, Intel provided a program to determine if your processor was at risk. INTEL not Microsoft.

    Yes, I noticed that in the link. I also thought about it. If you think about it, you too will understand how Microsoft could remediate the problem.

    >And yes you may be the one to discover a brand new bug that would cause SP-2 not to install properly. You could also step off a curb and get hit by a bus, run over at train crossing...

    In other words: if it can't be perfect, no standards of quality apply at all? I have been hearing that argument in defense of bad software since 1968 or so. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now.

    >You should take the precaution as you have mentioned of a complete backup.

    I would refer you back to the original topic of this thread -- something I would like to return to now.

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    This will be my last post on the subject. BTW, Remediate is a synonym for correct. If Microsoft has made an upgrade and some hardware manufacturer has released a new product that does not work with the Microsoft software whose responsibility is to fix the error? You are saying that is it Microsoft's repsonsibility to test their code with all possible hardware and software combinations even if the hardware or software does not exist when Microsoft is writing their piece(s). That is both unreasonable and naive. Neither Microsoft nor any reputable software vendor releases products with the intention of having it not work. Standards of quality always apply. Just not perfection. If you think Microsoft makes bad software run something else.

    Back to your original topic. If you do not regularly use a cleaning cartridege in your tape drive you should. You really need to go through the steps Mark described to determine whether the problem is hardware or software.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    This is my last post on the topic, too. You're trying to debate what I said without bothering to understand it, and that's a waste of time.

    For the sake of others who may want to understand what happened without doing joeperez's homework for him, to "remediate" a problem is to provide a remedy for it; that is, to eliminate or reduce its consequences. There are several types of remediation, for example, preventive (changing conditions so that the cause of the problem cannot arise); compensating (changing conditions so that the cause of the problem no longer has undesirable results); or detective (giving warning of the problem and thus making timely intervention possible). In this case the appropriate remediation would detective: modifying the installer's pre-install check to detect the condition and warn the user not to proceed. There should also be a corrective remediation: documenting the problem in Microsoft's knowledge base so that if it does happen, the user can find instructions at the official source.

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    <hr>or even documented it in the Knowledge Base<hr>
    Is this not the same issue then: MSKB 885626

    Anyway, did disabling the firewall resolve your issue?
    Regards,
    Rory

    Microsoft MVP - Excel

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    There's one other thing I should mention. Through this whole nightmare, I have never, ever had a problem running full backups -- only differential backups.

    Running a full backup every day is not feasible, so this is not a solutiion, but I'm sure it's a clue. Only problem is, I have no idea what it means.

    It seems to point to a software problem, but where? Device driver? NTBACKUP? Somewhere else? At this point there is nothing I feel I can safely assume.

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    Re: LTO tape will not mount (Windows XP SP1)

    >Is this not the same issue then: MSKB 885626?

    It is indeed. I'm pleased that Microsoft has done this much. When I said it was not documented, I was relying on the fact that I could not find it by searching the knowledge base for "Prescott" -- a failure that appeared to me to be conclusive. (That, and the word of a Microsoft MVP in another forum, who apparently could not find it either.)

    >Anyway, did disabling the firewall resolve your issue?

    No, unfortunately it did not. I'm baffled by that, since all the prior evidence pointed strongly in that direction.

    I tried to perform a clean boot as suggested by Mark, but the results were baffling and inconclusive. The backup still failed, but that may be because the clean boot is not really clean. When I cleared the "Load Startup Items" checkbox and clicked "Apply," msconfig changed the checkbox to indicate "partially set." The same thing happened if I cleared the checkbox and rebooted by clicking the "Restart System" button.

    I looked at the tab that shows startup item detail and found that about a third of the startup items were being re-enabled. Some are mysterious to me; others are clearly superfluous applications, such as ICQ. I have no idea why msconfig is doing this, or how to make it stop.

    I don't know what to try next. The tape drive's hardware diagnostics assure me that the drive is working perfectly. If I can't find other suggestions I guess my next step is to repartition the hard disk and install a completely clean copy of Windows XP to see if that helps. Apart from my reluctance to do that without having a reliable backup first, I don't have anything like the large block of dedicated time I would need for the experiment, and I can't foresee when I will. Perhaps I will have to live with the problem and hope that nothing goes wrong.

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