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Tape control commands

mt command

Linux Tape Backup With mt And tar Command Howto

Magnetic tape is a non-volatile storage medium consisting of a magnetic coating on a thin plastic strip.
Nearly all recording tape is of this type, whether used for video, audio storage or general purpose digital data storage using a computer. How do I make backup using tapes under Linux operating systems?
Linux (and other Unixish system) use mt command to control magnetic tape drive operation. You need to use mt command while working with tape drive. It allows you to reading and writing to tape. The default tape drive under Linux is /dev/st0 (first SCSI tape device name). You can read more about tape drives naming convention used under Linux here.
Following paragraph summaries command you need to use control tape drive for backup/restore purpose.
Rewind tape drive:
# mt -f /dev/st0 rewind
Backup directory /www and /home with tar command (z - compressed):
# tar -czf /dev/st0 /www /home
Find out what block you are at with mt command:
# mt -f /dev/st0 tell
Display list of files on tape drive:
# tar -tzf /dev/st0
Restore /www directory:
# cd /
 # mt -f /dev/st0 rewind
 # tar -xzf /dev/st0 www
 
Unload the tape:
# mt -f /dev/st0 offline
Display status information about the tape unit:
# mt -f /dev/st0 status
Erase the tape:
# mt -f /dev/st0 erase
You can go BACKWARD or FORWARD on tape with mt command itself:
(a) Go to end of data:
# mt -f /dev/nst0 eod
(b) Goto previous record:
# mt -f /dev/nst0 bsfm 1
(c) Forward record:
# mt -f /dev/nst0 fsf 1
Replace /dev/st0 with your actual tape drive name.

mt -f /dev/st0 rewind

Specifies the target device

Indicates the action to perform on the tape.