SUMMARY: Sony P6 120MP_f_ tapes

From: Bob Hayes (
Date: Wed Jan 27 1993 - 02:04:03 CST

On Jan. 15, faced with a pile of "write-error" P6 120MPf tapes, I asked:

        [] Way back, I followed the discussions of the ( at that time ) 'new'
        [] Sony 'F' 8mm tapes. Smug with my load of pre-F tapes, I thought that
        [] the only problem was that they may have to be inserted twice
        [] to get to the rewind point for an exabyte drive.
        [] Now I have some of these p60120MPf series tapes and they have
        [] generate LOTS of write errors. Older tapes ( non 'f' ) still
        [] work without errors, same drives, same dumps, so I am left
        [] staring at this new pile of 'f' tapes.
        [] Have others had this same result with the Sony 'f' tapes??
        [] What to do? Cleaning the drive doesn't seem like the fix?
        [] What brand to use now?
        [] Does the 'f' suffix stand for a word?? a couple come to mind...:-(
        [] Thanks for any response!
        [] Bob Hayes < >
And this is a summary of the responses:

I received 31 replies, thank you all!

Fifteen (15) people said they had problems with the Sony P6-120MP"f"
tapes and moved to data grade tapes.

Seven (7) folks said that they had no real problems with the "f" tapes.

Others offered conjecture and advice, mee-too's and requests for
me to re-issue this summary that wasn't issued yet.

NOTE: Many people correctly reminded me that if the data was worth
backing up, the extra cost for reliable tape probably was worth it. The
point is well made, and a couple replies bespoke non-recoverable data
from error free written tapes of the "f" grade-- Shivers yer timbers,
don't it?

There is NOT a general consensus on this issue, but we have some
variables not considered: tape batch run, drive type and age.

My solution will be to use data grade tapes, since we cannot afford
the data loss for the cost saved, even as an (impoverished) EDU site.

I gleened and offer the following general observations:

Suggestions as to cleaning drives, pretensioning and writing zero's
to the unused tapes were offered. I had tried most of these prior
to posting, no panacea found.

The only tapes mentioned by name were TDK-HS120 "for audio and digital
data" -- as alternatives to Sony. Others ( and I ) have used Maxell tapes
(non data grade) successfully before.

The "f" tapes with the "ntsc" on the window and lighter gray
color case than the older Sony tapes were, when identified,
universally declared BAD.

Conspiracy theory has Sony manipulating the data-grade tape market.
Some statements say that the "f" change was only the elimination of
the clear leader. Others say the formulation for oxide was changed,
others the quality control window was widened. For the record,
Sony ain't talkin, at least in response to my query to sun-managers.

The 8500 ( 5 GB) drives seemed in most cases to work OK, as
did the 8200 drives newer than about 1991. 8200 drives older
than 1991 or so seemed problematic, but not enough to be "the whole
problem". I have a pre-1991 8200 drive.
Drive type information was not included in all responses, so I can't
make definative statements, but there may be a small part of the
problem here.

If there are further questions about the mixed responses I have
received, I will be happy to oblige with email.

Bob Hayes < >
Western Washington University
Computer Science Dept., Bond Hall 302 Mail Stop 9062
Bellingham, Washington 98225
Obbligato Disclaimer: WOW! Once I believed that, too!

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