Computer Data Storage: How Important is the Tape Bar Code in Computer Tapes?

Computer tape cartridges are a valuable form of computer data storage media. However, when you have a whole bunch of such tapes, you would need a system to keep them organized. Otherwise, you would have a hard time retrieving the data and keeping everything in order. This is where the tape bar code comes in.

A bar code label is not only useful to computer storage users, but also the computer tape drives. This is because such bar code labels have both machine and human-readable identifiers. If you have a tape library system, the machine readable identifier would serve as a useful function in aiding proper management of tape cartridges within the system.

It’s important to take note that most failures to restore and backup data originate from misuse or misunderstanding of this bar code technology. The data stored within your tape can become inaccessible if there is any failure in the label and format of your card code label system, application or library reader.

Understanding the Tape Bar Code

Bar code technology is certainly not a new thing, since it originated way back 1934. This type of technology is characterised by an encoding format that utilises a series of spaces and bars. Having such technology applied in tape automation has greatly enhanced the management of tape cartridges. It helps in tracking of media within an automated system and even when handling the tapes physically.

Additional labelling on tape storage cases may be necessary in offsite tape storage. Furthermore, newer technology is being developed to enable tracking the exact locations of data cartridges through bar code labels, as well as verifying the correct media types. In reality, there exist well over 200 different forms of the bar code technology, which have differing applications. Such forms are referred to as symbologies. Here are two examples of such symbologies:

– The Universal Product Code (UPC) is the most familiar symbology used on consumer merchandise. Such UPC labels are quite simple, though strictly formatted.

– Code 39 (also called Code 3-of-9) is the symbology used in bar code labels for computer tape media. The symbology is self-explanatory, since for every nine elements it has three wide elements. An element is a black, non-reflective bar, but it can also be a white, reflective space.

The Code 39 Symbology

Apart from having the standard bars and spaces, an additional feature that the code 39 symbology has is an asterisk used as a stop and start character. You would not see this asterisk just by looking at the bar code label, since it is part of the machine-readable portion of the label. Such an asterisk feature helps bar code readers determine the correct direction of label characters, since stop and start characters have certain unique features. Due to this, there would be no risk of the label being read backwards.

Different varieties of barcode labels can be produced, suited for varying types of autoloaders and tape libraries. They can also be designed in numerous styles and featuring a wide range of colours. This means that each label can be customized to your exact specifications.