Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Computer Archaeology 101

Today I was trying to find an old DAW file which had some musical bits I wanted to transfer into a newer song. Looked everywhere on all my current hard drives, including backups, couldn't find it. Then, to my horror, I realized it was on an ancient Maxtor network attached storage device.
Found the Maxtor NAS device in my storage closet and went online looking for software allowing me to connect through its CAT5 interface...Maxtor has gone the way of the dodo and Seagate bought all their assets and intillectual property some years ago, so off to the Seagate site. They had the connection software...but the last version was for Win XP! Tried it in Win 10 just in case. No go. :(

So, hacksaw and screwdriver in hand, after about 15 minutes of *reasonably careful* work, I managed to free the drive from the plastic case and it's minimal support electronics. Thank goodness it was a standard SATA drive! :)

Popped the drive in to my computer and...nothing! Of course it was formatted in a proprietary Linux file system. :(

After some searching, I found a freeware application ( https://www.diskinternals.com/linux-reader/ ) that allowed me to mount the drive in Windows 10. Yep, it was EXT3, should have known! The software allowed me to convert and copy it's contents (excruciatingly slowly) to a good old FAT32 disk. Two hours later, I now have the audio file I was looking for! The bonus is a ton of photos I thought I had lost forever. :)

What a roller coaster!

I now have *profound* respect for folks dealing with archiving of important old computer files, not only because of the myriad formats of variable longevity but because of all the diverse hardware one must deal with, somehow making the outright incompatible finally compatible. Saving data is a insane "moving target" and sometimes even a couple years is all it takes to make something completely inaccessible! O_o.

1 comment:

matrix said...

Reminds me of backing up patches. From tape to floppies on my little Brother MIDI recorder, yes Brother made a MIDI recorder! I still have it BTW. :) After that it was backing up to computer and finally the iPhone. Not quite the same as your experience but if you only backed up patches to floppy only to forget about them, they can get lost. The battery on my JP-8000 recently went out and I lost my custom patches. The only back-up I could find was missing about half of them, so they are gone to the ether forever...