Error -206 Dirty Heads, Bad Media, etc


  1. Verify that the backup device you’re using is supported by checking the

  2. If you are using an unsupported optical drive and you custom configured a driver, try to reconfigure the drive again using a different brand/type of media (If DVD-R fails, try DVD+R if the drive supports it). If the problem persists after configuring it with different media, you will need to use a supported drive.

  3. Clean the tape drive tape heads. Refer to the device manufacturer for more information and best practices.

  4. Make sure the connection between the device and computer are secure. Connect the device as directly as possible. Do not daisy chain USB/Firewire/SCSI devices. Ensure that SCSI devices are properly terminated.

    If you are using SCSI, try changing SCSI cables, try a different SCSI terminator. Make sure the backup drive is the only external SCSI device while testing this error.

    For USB and Firewire users, try directly connecting the drive to the computer. Try a different USB or Firewire cable. Try a different USB or Firewire port on the computer.

  5. If backing up to a SCSI device on a Mac, ensure that the SCSI card you are using is supported under the version of the Mac OS you’re running. Adaptec has dropped support for the Mac OS with most of their cards as of OS X 10.3. Most testing of devices on the Mac is done with ATTO UL3, UL4 and UL5 SCSI cards. Users have reported problems using other brands of cards. Make sure the card is running the latest drivers and firmware.

  6. If you are using an optical or tape drive under Windows, try to disable the driver within Device Manager. Built in Windows drivers can sometimes cause a conflict with Retrospect. If you have other backup software installed, try removing that software. 3rd party tape drivers can cause errors for Retrospect.

  7. Retrospect can also report error 206 when a crash or power failure interrupts the backup computer or tape drive. Helical scan tape drives such as AIT, DAT, DTF, Exabyte 8mm and AME 8mm require an end of data (EOD) marker on a tape to append data. If a tape does not have an EOD marker Retrospect may report error 206 (media failure) when it next tries to write data to the tape. Tape drives are responsible for writing EOD markers but a drive may not get the chance if you shut down or restart the backup computer or the power is interrupted.

To avoid problems take the following precautions: do not disable the "Verification" option in scripts and immediate operations; let the tape drive fully rewind or eject the tape before you power off or restart the computer; and if the computer crashes try to eject the tape (using the drive’s eject button) before restarting or turning off the computer.

When Retrospect reports error 206 on a tape because it lacks an EOD marker that tape is unusable for future appends until you erase it, though it is not physically damaged and you can use it to restore. The tape cannot be repaired with Retrospect’s repair tool. To use the tape for additional backups or archives you must first either reset the tape’s backup set from Configure>Backup Sets or erase the tape from Configure>Devices.

When the error persists on multiple media and you have eliminated the above possibilities the device may be failing. Contact the vendor.

Last Update: February 14, 2012