When you are storing mission critical data to your LTO tapes, it becomes important to Identify a defective tape before it fails. You can stop using your old tapes, if you know the overall health and condition of the tape.
Mostly the system admins rely on the date of purchase, or number of loads to determine if a tape should be retired. However there are many factors to be considered like age of the tape, number of times it's loaded, overall quality of the tape, environment and the condition of the tape drive used, number of read/write errors and servo track errors that it has produced etc.
Maxell CM Analyzer is an excellent product that lets you Analyze your LTO tape quickly. This small device connects to your PC Via the USB port. You place your LTO tape on the CM analyzer and it shows you all the vital information the memory on your cartridge holds.
To make things simple, it even gives you a single score of 0-100 that can quickly give you an idea of your tape's overall health.
Ideally you should periodically check your LTO tapes with the analyzer to ensure that the tapes are good to use, and retire any tape that doesn't have the score of at least 80.