ArcServe: Fun with barcodes!

I inherited a tape backup system a while back, and I’ve always wanted to use barcodes on the tapes. Both the tape changer and ArcServe supports barcodes, but I’ve never had time to figure out how they work.

What made it worse was that I priced “barcode tape labels” from Dell and they were astronomically pricey. So I didn’t put much effort into barcoding.

I recently had to integrate another 18 tapes into the rotation, so I thought this would be a good time to create my own tape labels using Word 2003.

I created a label sheet using a simple table with cells that measured 13/16″ x 2 3/16″ and then I experimented with different layouts. I finally settled on one that included the Media Pool Name, Tape Serial ID, and the date the tape was first formatted. Since I had some space left on the label, I thought I’d throw a barcode on it. So I added the Serial ID (surrounded by an asterix on each side) and then changed the font to a Code 39 font.

I put the labels on the tapes and reconfiged the tape changer to enable barcodes. After a quick restart of the changer, I was surprised to see that the changer was able to read the Serial ID from the barcode! So now when you page through the tapes, you can see the actual Serial ID in the LCD! Neat!

I checked ArcServe’s config for the changer and I saw that it was already set to check for barcodes, so I started the Tape Engine. I was quite happy to see that ArcServe received the Serial ID numbers from the changer and didn’t run the inventory process on tapes that had a barcode.

ArcServe still has to run the full inventory for tapes that have no barcodes, but that is only about 3 tapes instead of 16. It used to take between 45 minutes to an hour to inventory the full changer; now it’s down to less than 10 minutes! Woot!

The only strange thing I’ve noticed is that if you put a barcode with a new Serial ID on a tape that has a different Serial ID, ArcServe will never see nor use the old Serial ID. I think this is by design, at least what I’ve read online it is. But all I had to do was remove the old tape Serial ID from the appropriate Media Pool, erase the tape (including the old Serial ID) and reformat it to the proper Media Pool. Sweet!

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