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The staging drive is on a dedicated NFS server. The staging drive has, at the moment, six directories, one for each host, each with 14 days' worth of full nightly backups. Each nights' backup is in its own directory, and contains files like etc.tar.gz home.tar.gz srv.tar.gz sqldump.tar.gz, etc.
The tape drive is on another machine. The other machiene handles the tape procedure by mounting the NFS share, and running a script that at the moment tar's all of the latest backup directories and outputs them to the tape drive.
Question: Have you tried extracting such a tar.tar sauce (sorry, the devil made me say it)?
a. if you can restore files, no harm done (thorough test required because re-compressing a compressed file may have unexpected results).
b. if you can't restore files, your backups are useless unless you can find a way to extract them.
If there are problems with re-tarred tar archives, try modifying the script to just write the files to tape, rather than tar a bunch of files which are already in tar archives.
Keep in mind, in a tar archive, if any part of the archive is corrupt, you risk the entire archive unless you have a tool which can repair or extract files from a corrupt archive.
It might be in your best interest to investigate DAR, which can make compressed archives, but each file in the archive is seperate from the others. If one is corrupt, you only loose the one; not the entire archive.