HP Colorado Tape Drives

Page Last Revised: Friday, April 28, 2006 01:26 PM


In July of 1998, I purchased an HP Colorado T3000 tape drive and media. Prior to making the purchase, I researched the product as thoroughly as possible, including directing specific questions to HP Colorado, in order to make sure that it would meet my needs, among which were that the drive would be able to read the QIC-80 tapes in my archives, that were created with my Colorado Jumbo 250 drive. HP's literature and technical support people assured me that it would.

Following my purchase, I found that the drive would not read the QIC-80 tapes, and that the "Colorado Backup Software" (written by Cheyene Software, for HP) was so flawed as to be useless. I spent almost a month exchanging over 200 pages of e-mail orrespondence with HP's various "technical support" personnel before they would finally answer a few simple questions which allowed me to determine that the drive was faulty (and not some other factor).

I then exchanged the drive at the place of purchase, and found that the new drive could, in fact, read QIC-80 tapes, but that the Colorado Backup Software could not handle the data contained therein if they were created with any other software than Colorado backup, or with any type of data-compression, despite the other software being in total conformance with QIC-80 tape and QIC-117 data-compression standards, and the tapes being readable by every other QIC-compliant software package. The response of HP Technical Support was laughable: They claimed that no other company besides HP conformed to the QIC standards, and that they "didn't support any other backup products", including tapes created by previous versions of their own software.

I then downloaded (at great expenditure of time) the latest version of HP Colorado Backup software because it was purportedly Y2K compliant, and that which was supplied with the drive was not, and in hopes that some of the program flaws might also have been addressed. I discovered that the software was not only not Y2K compliant, but it wasn't even Y1998 compliant [i.e. it couldn't perform a simple comparison of two dates accurately], and was even more flawed than the previous version.

I then downloaded, tested and eventually purchased the Seagate BED98 v3.0 product, which (although not without it's own faults) did work with the HP drive, and could read the QIC-80 tapes and backup files contained therein. For the moment, all was satisfactory, and my tape archives were no longer unreadable.

[I subsequently discovered that HP has replaced the HP Colorado Backup Software written by Cheyenne, the same software with which "technical support" denied there being any problems, with a customized subset of BED98! Therefore, presumably I could have "upgraded" to the HP Colorado Backup Software II at far less cost, and achieved similar results, had anyone at HP had the consideration and knowledge to inform me of the option. On the other hand, since the software supplied with the drive was useless, it behooved HP to offer a free copy, or at least a free trial copy, of the replacement software.]

Then, after a few months of satisfactory performance, and my subsequent purchase and use of additional media, the tape media removal sensor began to malfunction. It became necessary for me to power the computer (or at least the tape drive) off and back on in order to change media! This was extremely inconvenient at best, especially since the drive does not have it's own power switch, and the malfunction made spanned-media backups impossible!

After another lengthy email run-around, "technical support" finally acknowledged that the drive was defective, and issued an RMA. The new drive arrived in short-order, and the problem was gone. Once again, I was happy, albeit very temporarily.

In another few months, the new drive (this is the third one) developed the same problem described above. A visit to "technical support" by email resulted in a message that I would now have to re-visit the website, and fill out another lengthy (and mostly inapplicable) form. This to submit the virtually identical problem report as before.

After another week's run-around, I received the following missive from HP:

"As this is the third drive you have had it is clear that the T3000 drive is not compatible with your system. At this point we have little options to ease all the problems you have had. I have spoken to my lead technician and he has agree to give you a refund for your tape drive and tapes. You can then purchase a tape drive that is more suited to your system. What we need from you is an invoice for the original tape drive and any tapes you have. Please fax them to ..."

Although this response was less than satisfactory (as this was not a compatability problem, but a trice-defective product problem), I took the offer at face value, and (willing to wash my hands of HP's problem child once and for all), sent the requested materials (at my further expense and trouble), and (assuming that the offer had been made in good faith) replaced the drive and media with that of another manufacturer, and began the difficult and time-consuming task of transfering tape archives to the new media.

I then heard nothing further from HP, although many months transpired.

Eventually, I addressed a letter to Ms. Carly Fiorina, President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, describing the situation, and demanding that HP honour their proposed agreement. This letter was also ignored.

Finally, a second letter to Ms. Fiorina resulted in a return telephone call from a representative of HP, and (after resubmitting all the previously submitted documentation) a refund check was issued. Unfortunately it was made payable to someone else, and it took an additional exchange and yet another month before a cashable refund was issued.

As a result of this unhappy experience, it is unlikely that I will ever purchase, or recommend the purchase of, any HP product in the future.


Carl D. Goldin

Some letters from others with similar experience

11/19/2002 - I too am exasperated with my 20 gig travan b/up tape drive {H.P. brand). They exchanged my 14 gig tape drive that has failed miserably for another failure. The 20 gig failure. I believe that the defect is imbedded in the software. Half of the drivers will not load. Thus so far the H.P. 20 gig colorado b/up tape drive is worthy of the boat anchor/door stop award. TOTALLY WORTHLESS!!!!!!! Please pass along my sentiments to the next sucker.