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I'm given the task of trying to bring order to 30-years of old tapes with backups and dumps from several old systems. The oldest of these are most likely unreadable ...
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  1. #1
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    Using Linux to read old tapes from Windows/Solaris/Unix


    I'm given the task of trying to bring order to 30-years of old tapes with backups and dumps from several old systems. The oldest of these are most likely unreadable and will be destroyed. But we have quite a lot of cartridge-tapes of different formats that are between 5 and 15 years old that may be rescued. We have 4 different formats: Travan (Sony QTR-1), Mini Data Cartridge (3M DC 2120), Digital CompactTape (TK50-K), and some rather large cartridges (about 150x100x17mm) marked NCR 6525 525MB.

    These are all produced under different operating systems like Windows and some flavours of Unix. And by different software.

    I would of course have to find hardware that can read these tapes. But my rather open question are if Linux might be a good platform to try and read them? In that case which distribution? And can anybody point to some resources that can be of help in finding software and methodologies that can help in this task?

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    One assumes that hopefully these are SCSI devices. If so, you can get an SCSI board and that will run on Linux (Adaptec, et al). Then you should be able to pull data off of them with ciio, tar, etc. depending upon what was used to write them in the first place. However, if some proprietary backup software was used, you may have more difficulty in accessing the data, especially if it was compressed or encrypted.

    So, you need to do this:

    1. Determine what interfaces the hardware uses (SCSI, parallel port, etc).
    2. Find out what software was used to write the tapes.
    3. Determine if there are any special factors involved such as compression or encryption.

    Once you know what the hardware was as far as interface is concerned and you can connect the drive to your computer, then you should be able to at least extract the raw data as a dump. Sifting thru that will required answers to #2 and #3 above.

    Finally, there are specialty service companies that deal with this sort of stuff. You may find it more reasonable to find one that can deal with your cruft, and pay them to extract the data for you into a form your current systems are capable of dealing with.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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