Tape drives naming convention under Linux


Linux supports SCSI, IDE and old floppy based tape devices. Each device has unique name just like hard disk drives. Digital Data Storage (DDS), Digital Audio Tape (DAT) and Digital Linear Tape (DLT) all are supported by Linux and widely used in industry for backup purpose.

SCSI tape device names
The st driver provides the interface to a variety of SCSI tape devices under Linux.

  • First (auto rewind) SCSI tape device name: /dev/st0
  • Second (auto rewind) SCSI tape device name: /dev/st1
  • First the non-rewind SCSI tape devices: /dev/nst0
  • Second the non-rewind SCSI tape devices: /dev/nst1

IDE tape device names
The ht driver provides the interface to a variety of IDE tape devices under Linux.

  • First (auto rewind) IDE tape device name: /dev/ht0
  • Second (auto rewind) IDE tape device name: /dev/ht1
  • First the non-rewind IDE tape devices: /dev/nht0
  • Second the non-rewind IDE tape devices: /dev/nht1

You need to use above devices to backup data to magnetic tape. Read man page of st for more information.


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3 comments… add one
  • Charanjit Singh Cheema Jul 18, 2009 @ 7:12

    Nice information freind. Its really helpful. And also Thanks for your topic in nixcraft “Linux Tape Backup With mt And tar Command Howto” Its really help me understand how to deal with DLT Drives in Linux. Thanks!!!

  • kenny Jun 17, 2015 @ 15:15

    What is the naming for a tape drive that is connected via a sas expresscard? I have tried https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ExpressCard this but it has not helped me. I cannot find where is it at under /dev.

    • Graham Aug 1, 2015 @ 3:22

      SAS is a form of SCSI, so any SAS tape follows the SCSI naming conventions above (/dev/st0, or /sev/nst0). Note that these both refer to the same tape drive, the difference is that when using /dev/st0 the drive will automatically rewind the tape when finished, but when using /dev/nst0 it will leave the tape where it finished writing.

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