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Fujifilm Alerts Users to Dangers of "Re-Certified" Media Market
Investigation finds used media potential source of failures & compliance breaches
Press Release

Valhalla, NY, March 10, 2006 – Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., a leading global provider of data storage tape cartridges, today announced the results of a study that found there may be serious risks to those companies buying and/or selling “re-certified” or used data storage tape media.

The Fujifilm study found that in addition to the risk of unintentionally passing along confidential company data, a large percentage of used media can be of questionable stability and often fails, making it unreliable for storing or archiving important data.

“Based on our findings, we would advise CIO's and IT managers to be aware of the risks associated with selling retired data tapes into the used market or using so-called re-certified tape in their own data centers,” said Rich Gadomski, Vice President of Marketing, Fujifilm Recording Media Division. “In addition to buying media of unacceptable quality and performance, the uncontrolled practice of selling retired media can, in fact, allow your corporate data to end up in the wrong hands – potentially breaching corporate confidentiality policies and possibly violating government compliance regulations.”

About the study
Fujifilm confirmed the dangers of selling and buying used media through a study conducted with Ovation Data Services, Inc., a leading provider of digital data management and data tape services with headquarters in Houston, Texas.

Ovation analyzed 30 “re-certified” LTO data tapes that were acquired on the open market. What Ovation found was that on many of the cartridges, while some initializing was performed on the initial section of tape to make the data inaccessible at the initial pass of a drive head, data in fact still existed on remaining portions of the tape.

Of the 30 tapes analyzed, eight tapes still contained data potentially recoverable through standard data recovery methods. In order to ensure existing data on a cartridge has been completely removed, traditional re-certifiers generally “degauss” the media. Degaussing is the process of “bulk erasing” data via exposure to a strong magnetic field.

While degaussing is an effective method on older tape technologies such as the early DLTtape format – which did not employ a magnetic servo track – it is not possible for newer tape technologies such as LTO and 3592 formats that do use magnetic servo tracks. These newer tape formats contain a factory-written, magnetic “servo track” that allows the finely tuned magneto heads of a storage drive to continuously monitor tracking for recording and reading of data across the hundreds of data tracks on the width of the tape. If a servo track is degaussed, the tape is rendered useless.

In order to fully erase existing data on an LTO format tape (or other tape utilizing a magnetic servo), it is necessary to “security erase” or completely overwrite the existing data across the entire length, a process that can take several hours. This process is not economically feasible for re-certifiers, and the results from the study indicate that, in fact, it was not performed at all for this particular set of cartridges.

The study also highlights the fact that there are no industry standards for “re-certifying” used media so, therefore, the quality and reliability of used media is questionable. While a company can request a detailed report on the condition, usage and age of the tape, this is rarely done. In addition to the eight tapes still containing data, two other tapes were so worn that the drives rejected the media outright (fatal load failures). Still other tapes had “tape alert flags”, malfunctioning dust shutters, damaged gears, broken leaders or excessive debris.

Counterfeit tapes
Data center managers need to also beware of some resellers that are repackaging used tape and selling them as “new” in counterfeit manufacturer packaging. These counterfeit products are then sold to unsuspecting customers at a price below market value, usually via discount media or auction websites. Fujifilm has been made aware of several customers who found that they had purchased used tape sold as “new” tape, and continues to review its legal options when made aware of these illegal practices.

“Price competition and the availability of quality scanning technology have encouraged and enabled the counterfeit tape market,” said Gadomski. “We are aggressively exposing this business as it may put our customers at risk and negatively impact the perception of our quality and value of our brand. It's important that companies realize that they may be contributing to the problem by selling their used tape – or by buying from un-authorized resellers and distributors.”

Protecting your business
Whether you manage a large enterprise data center, or a small- or medium-sized business, the perceived cost savings from selling retired data storage media can be compelling.

The monetary gain from this practice, however, must be weighed carefully against the potential risks. Any data retention policy that causes a company to fall out of regulatory compliance can result in severe penalties that include fines, cessation of operations and/or criminal charges. CIOs and IT managers are encouraged to protect their businesses by immediately reviewing their media management policies from purchase to archive through to “end-of-life”, ensuring that their companies:

1. Enact policies that ensure control of archived data before, during and after it leaves the data center and building;
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