I have a DDS-1 tape (Sony 60M 1.3 GB tape) and am hoping to find a tape drive where I can still read it. The problem is that while I can find the associated compatible tape drives online, I am not sure if the interface would work. The older tape drives all rely on a SCSI connection. I am wondering if I am able to use an adapter like the SCSI to USB iOmega:

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and be able to plug and play with a Linux system? Thanks.

2 Answers 2


Iomega were a common supplier of tape drives and accessories, catering for the home and small company market mostly. USB is not an ideal interface for such an adapter because of adapter software support, I/O speed and latency. If you can use a PCI or PCI-e card interface that would be an improvement. If the adapter you've found has the right specs, then it the USB-SCSI adapter should work....

... however, not all SCSI interfaces are the same. Both the physical connector and the electrical interface have changed over the years, so it is important to match the specs up, especially don't connect LV (low voltage) ports to non-LV ports! Internal (inside system box) cabling was often different to external (separate enclosure) cabling; internal cables are often "IDC" ribbon cables. Finally, a SCSI bus needs terminating, for which terminators (essentially an external dongle) can be obtained, but many devices include internal termination (=internal dongle) which can be switched on and off. Ensure you have exactly one termination dongle active for each bus or you will get errors!

You don't say whether you're using Linux, Windows or something else. I would advise Linux unless you already have drivers and other software: the drivers for Windows are not easy to find and were always fiddly to set up.

If/when you get the hardware connected up and a driver configured, don't stick your current tape in it first: test the drive can read and write properly with a blank tape!

If the data on the tape is valuable it may well be worth finding a company that will read it for you: setting this up will have a cost.

So in summary: - it can be made to work - be careful of SCSI cabling and interface standards, so: - buy drive / cable / interface card as a group, not one-at-a-time. - then get bus termination right - linux will almost certainly drive it out the box; older windows boxen may be able to depending on driver support. - tape drives often care very much about the tape block size. Make sure you know what the important values are for your tape and application.


In addition to @rivimey's answer,the link below documents the full hardware stack I'm currently using for extracting data from old DDS tapes:


Needless to say this particular setup may or may not work for you, depending on the hardware you're using. The good news is that SCSI controllers are dirt cheap on eBay, so if one doesn't work you can always try another one.

On the software side of things, here's a little Python tool I've written that automates the more tedious bits of tape extraction such as determining the block size (this basically wraps around the dd and mt tools):


I should add that so far I've only tested this tool with a limited number of DDS and DLT-IV tapes (and with a virtual tape library), but I haven't come across any major issues yet.

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