View Full Version : Restoring old tapes

July 19th, 2009, 07:30 PM
I decided to bite the bullet today and transfer some of my old backup tapes (from 1988-90) to CD-R. These are the small DC-1000 minicarts that Irwin used. They hold a whopping 20 MB the each.

I still had my old EZTAPE 1.0 software (later versons won't read it), so I got to work with a 386/16 Micron box and Win95.

It appears to have gone pretty well thus far with only a few tapes left. One annoyance is that EZTAPE seems to ignore any target directory/drive specification. The other is that it won't run if the system date is past Dec 31, 1999.

(It actually has the smarts to come out with an error messages saying that the date is too late).

Next, I tackle the mountain of DC6150s, 4 mm DDS and 8 mm Exabyte tapes. I'll wait for a few more years before I decide to do something with the DLTs...

July 19th, 2009, 07:59 PM
What exactly is on those tapes?

I dumped 100+ QIC 120MB tapes a few years back that dated back to 1990 and didn't have a single error on any of them (from a PC BBS ).

July 19th, 2009, 08:08 PM
Mostly old work (source code, etc.) and business records. I figure I might as well get them while they can still be gotten.

I've had pretty good luck restoring DC600A (45 MB) tapes back to the early 80's. Where I've had problems is with earlier DC300 carts that haven't been retensioned in 30 years. The darned (now broken and crumbled) tension band has a tendency to take a patch of oxide with it.

What surprised me was that I was still using Lattice C as late as 1989.

Dwight Elvey
July 20th, 2009, 05:39 AM
It would seem that these tapes should be stored
without the bands. One could put the bands in
a sealed can, purged with nitrogen. That is if
one truely expected to treat them as long term
I often wondered how one could make replacement
bands. To work, they need a little stretch but not
too much.

July 20th, 2009, 09:27 AM
Hi I often wondered how one could make replacement bands. To work, they need a little stretch but not too much.

Not too long ago (maybe a year or two) I had some discussions with the technical people at Imation about this. I was looking for a supply of replacement bands and was told that the bands start out as simple rings punched from a sheet of polyurethane (with some lubricants embedded) and applied with a special bit of machinery that stretches the ring into the appropriately-shaped band.

The technician told me that it wasn't possible to do the operation manually, but that their lab used to have a small machine to do it on a onesy-twosy basis for testing. If he could locate the thing, he offered to replace bands on a dozen or so carts at no charge. After a couple of weeks of searching, it seems that the lab machine no longer exists.

That left me up a stump.

About a month later, I received an envelope from another CCTalk list member with a few colored "rubber" bands in it and a note wondering if they could be pressed into use.

Indeed they could--while not the ideal size, they worked well enough to get data from several cartridges.

These are the "rubber bands":

They're called "Plasti bands" and are made of polyurethane and available at many office supply stores. They come in two sizes--2" and 4" and have a tremendous amount of stretch to them. I use the 4" for the large DC300/600/6150/6250/6525 carts and the 2" for the mini DC1000/2000/2120.

They're also darned handy for bundling up cables. You can also secure a rolled-up drawing without worrying about the band staining the paper (like rubber bands eventually do).

Dwight Elvey
July 21st, 2009, 07:14 AM
I suspect these would work great for folded
paper tapes. I've had to do some careful cleaning
of paper tapes that had been rubber banded years
ago and the bands had become goo and then hard
gobs. They need to be held by something or they
quickly tangle, like meter leads.

July 21st, 2009, 08:57 AM
I think they'd be perfect for that application, Dwight. These have a lot more "stretch" than ordinary latex rubber bands.

I've even used one to replace a dead belt on a 3" (CF) floppy drive.

July 21st, 2009, 09:41 AM
I'd also be careful of moving stuff onto CD-R and expecting them to be readable after a few years. There was just an article on slashdot a couple days back about how unreadable a good chunk of the data is on CDs burned within the last decade.

My opinion is that you don't really need long term storage. All you really need is something long term enough to get you to the next storage medium, then you do this task again every x years. Luckily it gets easier in the future. Ie, you spent 4 days moving your data from floppies to tapes, then 6 hours to move your dozen 20MB tapes to a single CD, then in 5 years, you move your single CD onto a single xeroFault(tm) brand backup device which takes 3 seconds, etc etc.

I'm wondering what the longevity of burned CD/DVD vs. USB flash devices are.

July 21st, 2009, 10:06 AM
Granite tablets work well, particularly if you bury them in the desert under 20 feet of sand. Good quality paper has amazing longevity (centuries), as does parchment, but they suffer from low bit density. I'd use 1/2" reel-to-reel tape, but my own experience with some 70's-era tapes and oxide shedding tells me that that's not such a good idea. Heck, even mask-programmed ROMs can go bad.

So, I'm using the Mitsui/MAM-A "gold" CD-Rs, which are supposed to be pretty stable. I don't trust DVD-R as far as I can toss them (which is pretty far if you throw them like Frisbees).

All in all, 8" floppies aren't so bad. I wonder if that gold "record" bolted onto Voyager is still readable...