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Chuck(G)
November 4th, 2015, 03:09 PM
I've just run across a bunch of 360K 5.25" disks from 1989 that are formatted as 10 sectors per track, 40 tracks that contain a multi-volume backup.

At first, I said "Aha! Must be Fastback or most likely early PCTools." Neither. FB and PCtools are the only backup utilities that I recall that use that peculiar format. Anyone have any other clues? Here's a partial dump of the first sector of the first floppy:



000000 50 43 42 41 43 4B 55 50-2E 01 00 50 43 42 00 06 PCBACKUP.? PCB ?
000010 04 00 69 00 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ? i
000020 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
000030 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00 01 01 01 01 ????
000040 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01-01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 ????????????????
000050 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01-01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 ????????????????
000060 01 01 01 01 01 5A 5A 5A-5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A ?????ZZZZZZZZZZZ
000070 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A-5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
000080 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 5A-5A 5A 5A 5A 5A 52 13 C5 ZZZZZZZZZZZZZR?+
000090 9A 01 00 1E 00 01 00 54-55 52 42 4F 43 5C 00 00 ? ? ? TURBOC\

FWIW, the head IDs are the normal 0 and 1 and the sector IDs are 1-10 on both sides.

Anyone got any clues? Maybe I'm just having a lapse in memory, but it doesn't look familiar, in spite of the "PCBACKUP' in the start of the sector.

lyonadmiral
November 17th, 2015, 09:30 AM
Would the MS-DOS 6.0+ utility "Microsoft Backup" open them?

Chuck(G)
November 17th, 2015, 09:39 AM
Definitely not--this utility writes non-DOS format disks (10 sectors (400K per 5.25" floppy) per track, no FAT or directory--not even a boot sector). AFAIK, MS Backup has always written DOS-compatible floppies.

At first, I thought that it might be Central Point's PCTools backup or Fastback--both of those write 10 sectors per track on a 360K floppy, but no--the data structure here is entirely different.

Another possibility might be PC Fullbak, but I haven't been able to locate a copy to verify that.

Chuck(G)
November 17th, 2015, 11:17 PM
Well, it's not PC Fullbak.

Was there a PCBackup package prior to the Central Point version?

Stone
November 18th, 2015, 02:29 AM
I have a Central Point Backup from 1991.

krebizfan
November 18th, 2015, 07:48 AM
I remember seeing ads published in 1984 for a software package labeled PCBackup but that was a PC to tape solution. Never had a copy though.

Central Point changed their disk format several times and did not include the ability to restore from earlier versions of Backup. I think versions 4, 5, and 6 all had different formats and both 5.0 and 6.0 were bug laden.

Chuck(G)
November 18th, 2015, 07:50 AM
I have a Central Point Backup from 1991.

Nope, this backup appears to have been made (by the paper label) in early 1989. I've tried PCTools 4.10 and it's not even close.

krebizfan
November 18th, 2015, 08:11 AM
Early 89 suggests PC Tools 5. The Usenet copy of a CP text describing changes to PC Tools Deluxe 5 is dated Feb 89.

Relevant section for these purposes is extracted below:
3. Improved the speed of DMA backups. (Note: some of you have
mentioned that 5.1 PCBACKUP is much slower than 4.3. It WAS a
little slower (about 10 percent), and that has been fixed. If you
are seeing a large difference in speed, it is due to the fact that
5.1 uses a different track format than 4.3. This means that the
FIRST backup you make over your 4.3-made backups will be slow, but
after that it will be fast as the disks will be formatted into the
new format.) It will also now let you know when it is formatting
disks on the bottom line of the screen.

Chuck(G)
November 18th, 2015, 08:18 AM
I've tried 5.1 and 6.0 and 7--no soap. As all of the relevant disks (and, in fact, all of the disks in this lot) were DD 48tpi (some 8 sector single-sided), I suspect that the software used is much older than 89.

One tipoff is that there is no dummy boot sector on these disks that informs the user that this is not a standard disk format--some backup programs even included a dummy directory and FAT. These have none of that.

Should be an object lesson to everyone using a backup program--archive the restore utility with your data!

SomeGuy
November 18th, 2015, 09:11 AM
I have a hunch that might be PC-Tools 3.0 for DOS. That was the first version to include the backup program or other external utilities. And from what I have read there were significant changes in 4.x. Scaling things back for friendliness by adding a proper boot sector instead of data would be the sort of thing later versions might fix.

I'm not aware that there are any copies of 3.0 currently "out there". Apparently someone DID (http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?32495-pc-tools-3-0-for-ibm) have a copy a while back...

Chuck(G)
November 18th, 2015, 09:50 AM
I wish I had a better memory. While looking through my files, I discovered that I wrote a backup/restore utility for MS-DOS 2.00a I wrote on contract back in 1983 for a vendor. It's definitely my coding style and my name is in the source, but I don't remember ever doing it. Interestingly there are drivers and the files for building an OEM version of MSDOS 2.00 as well, which I don't recall doing at all.

krebizfan
November 18th, 2015, 02:03 PM
This probably does not apply to PCTools but the PC-Fullbak manual indicates that it writes 48 tpi on DSDD disks inserted into a HD drive.

Chuck(G)
November 18th, 2015, 02:52 PM
Oh, it also writes to 48tpi drives as well as 3.5" 720K--I tested it, but the data format doesn't match that shown at the top.

My (current) guess is that it must be an ancient version of PCBackup.

Trixter
November 19th, 2015, 11:08 AM
One tipoff is that there is no dummy boot sector on these disks that informs the user that this is not a standard disk format--some backup programs even included a dummy directory and FAT. These have none of that.


Your disk format of 10 512-byte sectors means you have either Fastback (make sure you try both versions as they changed formats between versions; I put download links at http://www.oldskool.org/guides/dosbackupshootout ) or Central Point PC Backup. Central Point PC Backup manages to stuff a dummy root directory on each disk that states it is not a regular floppy, so that suggests Fastback... however, the PCBACKUP in the boot sector is a pretty obvious smoking gun, so I'm afraid I have to agree with Chuck that he's looking at a very early version of PC Backup.

If you ever find the right version, make it available somewhere so that I can mirror it and others won't have to go through this.

Chuck(G)
November 19th, 2015, 02:10 PM
At this point, unless someone comes to the rescue (I've got early PCTools ans well as both Fastbak and Fastback plus) and now PC Fullbak), it's going to be easier to suss out the structure and write some code to unravel the disks. At least the data doesn't appear to be compressed.

------
Addendum

Sure looks like a version of Central Point PCTools PCBackup. The llast disk of the set has the catalog of files on it. The first couple of tracks on each looks like duplicates--nothing really important occurs until 10,240 bytes in.

So, does anyone have access to a PCTools 3.0 disk set?

Chuck(G)
November 20th, 2015, 07:42 AM
Starting with Windows 7, the backup program included with the operating system ... well as applications and customizations and you can clearly identify what does and doesn't need to ..

PC Help Pal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwVy1GgZWOQ)

Pardon me, but are you a spammer? I ask this because what you've posted has nothing to do with the topic--backup has been part of the MSDOS/Windows distribution for decades.

SomeGuy
November 20th, 2015, 08:42 AM
It's a spambot. If you look at its history, its posts are copy and pasted text from elsewhere.

"Oh, I"

Chuck(G)
November 20th, 2015, 08:46 AM
It's a spambot. If you look at its history, its posts are copy and pasted text from elsewhere.

"Oh, I"

I suspected so, but they're getting better, aren't they?

mbbrutman
November 20th, 2015, 08:49 AM
Please don't talk to suspected spammers - just report the post and move along.

Chuck(G)
November 20th, 2015, 08:58 AM
I wasn't sure, which is why I responded. Normally, I don't. Looking at the other postings, I was even more in doubt.

Chuck(G)
November 21st, 2015, 08:26 PM
Digging through my old floppies, I found a copy of PCTools 3.23, which, I think was the first version of PCTools with backup/restore. Well, it's close enough to the backup/restore in PCTools 4.1 that you couldn't tell the difference--and the file format is essentially the same--and a country mile from the backup program shown above.

One odd thing is that the mystery backup program creates a FASTBACK or PCBACKUP 10-sector disk, but instead of using head IDs of 250/251 or 224/225, it uses the normal 0 and 1. (FASTBACK plus creates a standard 9-sector format).

Anyone remember a backup program from the time called SITBACK?

GottaLottaStuff
November 21st, 2015, 10:10 PM
I found a copy of PC Tools 5.5. It won't help this time, but you can add it to the collection if you want it.

Chuck(G)
November 22nd, 2015, 09:16 AM
Thanks for the offer, I'll have to research if the backup utility is much different from 4.1 or 6.0, however. This task is getting very frustrating...