stiction
 
Stiction Problems
Old tape often becomes sticky, shedding oxide at an alarming rate and this sticktion soon causes loss of quality, screeching and even slowing down if not attended to. It is related to moisture in the atmosphere, which infiltrates the laminate of the tape and effects the lubricant - thus the tape has a tendancy to "stick" causing creasing or even tearing when passing over the read/write heads.
A client found that sticktion had effected the majority of their tapes recorded in the 1980s. We find that mass-produced tapes of this era are far less reliable than the older tapes from the 1970s, where the quality is more pronounced because less were produced.
 
They were looking to recover seismic surveys that had been stored in a TAR format. TAR is commonly used to collect many files into one larger file for archiving, while preserving file system information such as user and group permissions, dates and directory structures.
 
The recovery was exasperated by the fact that firstly the tape had delaminated - a common problem with media from the 1980s, where the manufacturing quality deteriorated. Secondly the data was spilt into 80 byte block headers and trailers, which were not part of the data. These were tape label identifiers, needed when the tape is read.
 
The surface of the tape was sticking to the heads and guides of the tape transport. This is caused when tape binders absorb moisture, often due to poor storage. Ironically, the way we solved this problem was firstly to de-spool the tape, soak in fresh water and cure in a specialist oven for 72 hours at 130 degrees.
 
In order to overcome the problem, we first had to drive out the moisture by curing the tapes in a purpose built oven for 72 hours. Thereafter, the tapes have to be re-lubricated and relaminated, before attempting a read on a propriatory tape drive that we have specifically built to avoid sticktion on the heads. Although the complete project took almost one month to complete, not one single byte of data was lost!
 
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"Thank you so much for all your help - Data Recovery Specialists are a real life saver!  I do not know what I would have done without the data you recovered.  We would have probably had to re-record all the location shots, which would have been time consuming and very expensive"  BBC Wales

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"Thank you for solving our stiction issues so promptly from our reel to reel tapes.  We were expecting to lose some of the data, so we were extremely happy when you recovered the full survey.  The data has proved invaluable"  Regal Petroleum
 
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"Thank you for processing the 3590 tapes from our marine survey and copying to HDD.  Your unique NavMerge service combining the navigation information with our 3D seismic data saved us a huge amount of time"  Portugese Ministry of Defence
 
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"I thought we would never get our CT scans converted into DICOM and imported onto PACS, but you came to our rescue" NHS