Old tape data retrieval

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Thu Feb 27 07:11:15 CST 2020

On Thu, 27 Feb 2020 at 03:49, Chuck Guzis via cctalk
<cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> Hoo boy.   I'll throw my experience in and see if you can avoid nausea...
> First of all, you don't need a special controller to run most floppytape
> drives, nor do you need to give up a floppy drive to use them--they
> don't use the usual drive/motor select control for access.  It's
> perfectly permissible to have 2 floppy drives and a tape drive on the
> same cable.

I didn't know that last trinket of wisdom, but agreed to the rest.

>   While there were special "double-speed" controllers, such
> as the Colorado FC-20, they're not necessary for functioning--they just
> increase the data transfer rate.


> Second, be prepared to set up a legacy system with the OS that you used
> back in the day.  I think that NT 4.0 and maybe 2K still retained
> floppytape support, but I don't believe that it went further than that.
> If you used Windows 95 to do your backups, use that.


> Third, tape backup software tends to be unique to the generation of tape
> drive and operating system.


>   For example Colorado backup for DOS chokes
> on Colorado backup for Windows 95 tapes.  So locating a copy of ResQ may
> be to your great advantage.

Strongly seconded on that last bit.

> If you can't find a copy, it may be possible to read the tape in "raw"
> mode using an old version of NetBSD or even old Debian using the ftape
> driver.   You'll have to recompile the kernel to incorporate the driver
> code, but then you'll have access to the tape contents using the usual
> Unix tape commands (mt, dd, etc.)  The good news is that almost every
> floppytape that I've seen uses 512 byte blocks.
> All this assumes that various bits haven't turned to goo or gone slack
> (e.g. tape drive capstans, cartridge tension belts, etc.).

Kevin, where in the world are you?

I have a Colorado parallel-port drive and install floppies and CDs for
Win9x and NT. I could be induced to part with them, _pace_ Chuck's
wise and insightful comments.

Liam Proven - Profile: https://about.me/liamproven
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