A condition in DLT drives where the leader (a piece of the tape that connects with the drive) is broken or becomes disconnected.

Here's how it works.....
In my book there are two leaders, a tape leader and drive leader. When you load a DLT, the tape access door is flipped open and a little device holding the drive leader stabs thru the hole in the tape leader. Then it moves out of the way and the drive starts spooling the tape into itself.
So, a lost leader can mean that:
Either leader is broken.
A tape leader broke and is stuck on the drive leader, or vice versa.
The drive leader came unhitched from the little device which inserts it to the tape.


Although most vendors label this as an instant RMA, you might be able to fix it your very self if you read my How to fix a DLT drive node.

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