DDS Tape FAQs - Imported

DDS Data Tape FAQ
Updated 3/24/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff

The information below has been compiled by through extensive research generated from our staff and information provided by the manufacturer.

Please feel free to browse SuperMediaStore's 4mm DDS Data Tape FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), such as DDS-1 tape, DDS-2 tape, DDS-3 tape, DDS-4 tape, and DAT72 tape. We are happy to provide this 4mm DDS Data Tape information resource to our web visitors.

About DDS

DDS is the abbreviation for Digital Data Storage. DDS drives are also called 4 mm tape drives or DAT streamers.

  • What does DDS stand for?

DAT (digital audio tape) is a 3.81mm-wide audio tape system.
DDS (digital data storage) is a tape system for computer data backup, including DDS-1, DDS-2, DDS-3 and DDS-4
DAT72, the fifth generation of DDS, is a tape system for computer data backup.

  • What are DAT, DDS and DAT72?



Capacity (GB)

Speed (MB/s)

DDS-1 tape




DDS-2 tape




DDS-3 tape




DDS-4 tape




DDS-5 tape (DAT72 tape)




  • What is different between DDS-1, DDS-2, DDS-3, DDS-4, and DDS-5 (DAT 72)?

DDS evolved from DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and uses the same recording principle as home video recorders. However, instead of recording analogue video signals, it records digital data. Both uses the same type of tape, but computer grade DDS tape must meet strict ANSI standards. This means it has a much lower BER (Bit Error Rate) than most DAT tape and is therefore more reliable. Unlike audio DAT tape, DDS is certified "error free".

  • Is DDS different than DAT?

Any format of DDS cartridge, from DDS-1 tape to DDS-4 tape and DAT72 tape (DDS-5), can be used approximately 100 times. If you use a cartridge five days a week, change it for a new one after 20 weeks. If you use it only once a week, it will last about two years.

  • How many times can I use a DDS computer tape?

DDS can be used with standard operating systems, such as UNIX, Windows2000 and others. For more information, contact the manufacturer of your media drive.

  • With which OS can DDS be used?

About DDS Drive

No. DDS2 drives will automatically eject DDS3 tapes. Drives and Media are only backwards compatible. See below for a listing of media and drive compatibility.

  • Can I use a 125mm tape in my drive that uses 120mm tapes?

No. While a DAT72 tape looks similar to a DDS tape, it cannot be used in a DDS drive.

  • Can I use a DAT72 tape with the DDS drive?


  • Can I use the DDS drive for music data?

The most common cause of this is dirty heads or bad media. Try a cleaning cartridge and then use new media as the old media may be contaminated. Retensioning the tape may also improve performance. The Heads should be cleaned with a Cleaning Tape at least every 24 hours of tape drive usage. Heads must be cleaned regularly to ensure reliable performance. If long periods go by without cleaning, foreign material will build up on the heads and a cleaning tape may no longer be effective.

  • I am having Read and Write problems with the Tape drive?

If you have Service Pack 4 or 6, you’ll need to install the Windows. NT drivers located on our website. Service Pack 6a already contains the correct NT drivers. Service Pack 5 will not support tape drives, so users should upgrade to Service Pack 6a. Obtain the latest drivers and firmware for your SCSI card. If you are using an Adaptec card, run an ASPI check, and update the ASPI layer for your card if necessary. Finally, check for proper SCSI termination and ID settings.

  • Why is my tape drive not detected on my Windows NT 4.0 system?

Your 4mm DDS tape drive's LED display will indicate when the tape drive needs to be cleaned. The "TAPE" Indicator will remain on, and the "STATUS" indicator should flash once every half-second. In order to clean the tape, please use an approved 4mm DDS cleaning cartridge. The drive should indicate that cleaning is needed, as explained above, by flashing its Status Indicator.

At the time the drive indicates it needs a cleaning; please insert the tape into the drive. A single cleaning process will take between 7 - 11 seconds.

Note: If the process takes less than 7 seconds, the tape drive wasn't properly cleaned. At this point, please insert the tape to reattempt the cleaning process. If the same results occur, please try a new cleaning tape, as the older one might be at its end of life. You can verify this on most cleaning tapes by looking to see if the tape is at the end, and the left spindle is empty. If the same issue occurs after a new tape, please contact technical support using the form below. It is recommended that you run through the cleaning process up to three times to insure that all residues from prior recordings are removed. The cleaning tape does not contain an abrasive which would wear the drive's reading head, so this won't harm the drive.

  • When and how should I clean my DDS Tape Drive?

Please check the following:
Poor quality media, worn media or dirty tape drive heads. Insert a cleaning tape, and then use brand new media as old media may contaminate the heads again. If long periods go by without the use of a cleaning tape, foreign material will build up on the heads and a cleaning tape may no longer be effective. In this case the drive will need to be returned to an Authorized Sony Service Center for cleaning. Tape was written in a different drive. One of the drives may be incorrectly aligned - Try a back up and restore using the one drive, tape, backup application and operating system. Incorrect SCSI configuration can also cause these types of problems, for best performance it is recommended to configure the tape drive with a dedicated SCSI controller.

  • My drive can't read my 4mm DDS tape. What should I do?

About Other

First, make sure the correct type of tape is being used. Try issuing a SCSI bus reset or power the drive OFF and back ON to override this condition. Disconnect the data cable from the drive to determine if the cable or connection may be the problem. If this does not work and if it is absolutely mandatory that the tape cassette be removed prior to returning the drive for repair, an emergency cassette removal procedure can be performed. See manual or contact technical support for further assistance.

  • How do I eject a stuck tape?

Replace the tapes that fail with known good tapes. The particular tapes that are not successfully backing up are most likely defective.

  • Why can I do a successful backup on some days, while other days, the backup fails?

Your tape drive is a streaming device. If the data buffer in the drive becomes empty during the backup process the tape will continue moving thus leaving areas on the tape with no data and reducing the tapes capacity - This can be caused by poor system performance or by backing up over a slow or busy network. Incorrect SCSI configuration can also cause data bottlenecks, for best performance it is recommended to configure the tape drive with a dedicated SCSI controller. Dirty drive heads and or poor media condition can cause write errors, the data will then be written again, this also reduces tape capacity - Be sure your drive heads are clean and the media is in good condition. If you are using data compression, remember that some files do not compress very well, i.e.: MPEG, JPEG, PDF etc. If your drive has built in hardware compression enabled be sure that you do not have the backup applications software compression enabled also.

  • I can not reach full capacity on my 4mm DDS tapes.

Clean the drive when the drive-cleaning signal lights up. To avoid data backup trouble, clean the drive regularly. recommends that you clean the drive after each break in use of more than a few days.

4MM DDS (DDS-1, DDS-2, DDS-3, DDS-4, dat72)

Cartridge daily hours of use

Within 4 hours

4 to 12 hours

Over 12 hours

Cleaning frequency

Once a week

Twice a week

Every day

*Usable for up to 50 cleanings (drive dependent).Do not rewind the cleaning cartridge and reuse it.

  • How often should I clean the media drive?