Tape recovery needs old software

Discussion in 'Acclaim Project' started by ASSEMbler, Feb 14, 2016.

  1. Kao

    Kao Gutsy Member

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    I'm trying to recover a game dev's files from some old Travan 8GB tapes and it's not been a great experience so far. Apparently having the exact right old drive and an old PC that the drive will work in isn't enough. It has to be running the version of windows used when the tapes were made, as well.

    I can understand why this project hasn't moved in years, but it's also kind of a shame. I think these tapes were first news when I joined at the end of 2010 and there's still been no movement 7 years on!
     
  2. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

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    There's lots that can be done though, it just requires the time to do it. The tapes Ive dealt with are newer, and easy enough to get data off of, but even that required some work. And data is only part of it in my case, as I really want to come up with the best method of archiving the tape image itself, and not just the data from it. With @ASSEMbler looking for Backup Exec 12.5 or older, Im more than capable of that sort of thing, as I spent some time tracking down Backup Exec versions just in case, and have some experience now. His being old doesn't mean it would be a walk in the park hah. Still not happy with the format Im recovering to though.

    The bigger concern is as time goes on, they aren't going to be getting any better, especially since sticky tapes are an issue too. Im holding off on baking or attempting any fix on those those with issues, but Im concerned even with the tapes that I have that are just over 10 years old in some cases.

    I think I know which tapes you're working on too Kao...
     
  3. retro

    retro Resigned from mod duty 15 March 2018

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    Even that is an over-simplification. And not necessarily.

    The tapes have to be readable - no physical damage. As Borman said, just like with video and audio tapes, there could be sticky shed syndrome, which needs baking and you really need to know what you're doing. There may be other special preservation issues - such as mouldy tape, and you don't want to be releasing spores into the air you breathe. You have to have the right software to read the archive. If they're incremental, you need all the tapes. You need to know any passwords used... and what specific methods were used, too. You have to remember it's going to be a server image rather than a stand-alone machine, in most cases.
     
  4. karsten

    karsten Member of The Cult Of Kefka

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    what are we stuck at now? has the proper software been found?
     
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  5. retro

    retro Resigned from mod duty 15 March 2018

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    The owner of the tapes disassociating himself with the site? ;)
     
  6. Mattetch

    Mattetch rebuilding collection one cartridge at a time

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    i have done something similar in the past to recover old data from ages ago that was stored on old travan 320mb tapes, i used old software for the colorado tape back up device in os/2 wrap 4 and it didn't care about what system it was recorded on and dumped it no issue, it took ages to do because the i/o that handled the tape device was slow as a snail going up hill.

    let me look around and see what i can find, maybe i will find out something of interest that might help this ages long attempt at recovery.
     
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  7. Kao

    Kao Gutsy Member

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    That would be helpful to me as well, @Mattetch, since I'm currently trying to get some Travan 8GB tapes archived. Both Win98 and WinXP claim the tapes haven't been initialized, but I refuse to believe the data is corrupt/lost. I'm going to try again on Win2000 which I believe is the platform the tapes were originally archived on.
     
  8. Mattetch

    Mattetch rebuilding collection one cartridge at a time

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    and that's exactly what i was thinking, i would go as far to try to use a dos based suite of compatible software that handles tape backup tasks/ archiving.
    im setting up my old towers hdds this weekend, from there i will attempt to locate the older software i have stashed away.
     
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  9. Bramsworth

    Bramsworth Well Known Member

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    Can we get any word on this? This is quite possibly the largest archival of a company in the making here, but as it stands it looks like it's going to be lost to history. I'm hoping the site drama that was prevalent some months back didn't convince Kev to give up ever doing anything for the community anymore. The software may not be found but I'd like to at least know it's still on Kev's mind.

    Apparently the Conner Backup Exec that was shared on the first page fulfilled Kev's request, but we haven't heard back. I'm ready to do my own search for this software if that's not what Kev needs, but we need confirmation whether that did the job or not.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  10. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

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    Eh, it's not the largest by any means. What I've been working on is far larger, and the collection at my place of employment for the Atari coin-op division is almost certainly larger.

    Not to say that this isn't important in its own right.

    But honestly, I wouldnt use the original software as a first step. I would explore other options to make full copies of the tapes, then use those backups to do actual data recovery.
     
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  11. Bramsworth

    Bramsworth Well Known Member

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    Well, in terms of what the public would presumably actually get to play with, it's certainly the largest anyway.

    That's a good point about the backups. I've seen others mention it before, but I guess it's not clear if that was being attempted before trying to read the tapes.
     
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  12. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

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    Depends on your definition of public really.
     
  13. Bramsworth

    Bramsworth Well Known Member

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    Getting to download it and play it.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to downplay what the Strong is doing. I'm just completely unaware if any archival there is anything the public gets to play in any capacity or it just sits "archived" while only people who work there can touch any of it. Or it's limited to only people doing research of some sort and the general public never gets to play with any of it.

    It's definitely something that's kind of concerned me with more and more museums taking in old dev stuff things these days. I already know a few protos here and there donated to some museums that are now under lock and key and are as good as being hoarded at this point, and it's pretty disappointing.

    This discussion deserves its own topic really. I've actually wanted to know what people like you and Frank Cifaldi have to say about this since I don't think there's been a clear answer. And I understand it's probably a tough position since now that you're doing this proto stuff in an official capacity, you can't exactly linger around the so-called "gray zone" of sharing as you could as just a random internet guy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  14. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

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    I mean, it's as easy as making an appointment right now, and technology will make it even easier to close the geographic gap that is clearly an issue. The Strong has been actively doing game stuff for a decade now, and some of the items received simply wouldn't be out of the development studios at all otherwise. I've setup prototypes for people to play. And the topic has come up for including prototypes for general play in exhibits too. And you know I'm pushing for proper backups of everything.

    But at this point, Kevin isn't even confirming whether or not he even has this stuff any more. And I don't recall seeing any guarantee of uploading it wholesale anyway, or even at all. That is generally a bad idea anyway with tape backups, lots of potential personal information.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  15. Bramsworth

    Bramsworth Well Known Member

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    That sounds good Borman. Honestly, I thought the situation would be a lot worse than that, but that sounds like more than I was expecting. If I ever learn you guys have something I really want to see for myself I'll have to fly over there sometime.

    True, Kevin never said he'd upload it all. I just assumed since it's in its own sub-forum and had so much community help behind it that it would be shared since all those asset discs were.

    Anyway, I hope Kevin checks this out and gives us an update eventually.
     

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