Work around vanished tape change prompt in WinServer 2003

Unlike Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 does not prompt you to change tapes during automatically scheduled backups. Two possible workarounds: tape libraries and a hotfix.

If you're backing up to tape, it helps to have the backups run automatically at scheduled times. If your backup fills more than one tape, it helps if the system tells you when you need to change tapes.

Prompting you when you needed to change tapes was something Windows 2000 did. Unfortunately, Windows Server 2003 doesn't.

This is the result of a deliberate design change in Windows Server 2003. According to Microsoft, the rationale is that with automatically scheduled backups, there is often no one there to change tapes. While the rationale is, well, interesting, it poses a problem for many sites that have backups that take more than one tape and do have someone available to change the tape.

One solution suggested by Microsoft is to use a tape library, which changes tape automatically, rather than a standalone tape drive. While tape libraries are considered somewhat expensive, they are preferred by many managers because of the higher capacity and the increase in reliability that comes from changing tapes mechanically.

The other solution is to use a hotfix recently made available by Microsoft. This patch adds a new command switch, called /UP, to Windows Backup for use in command scripts. When you use the /UP command in your backup script, Windows will prompt you for another tape.

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80 K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in issues related to storage and storage management.

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