Who DAT Tapes? (August 11, 2012)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
We are pleased to announce that an anonymous xOrigin employee has donated 36 DAT tapes... most of which are labeled Wing Commander 3 or Wing Commander 4! We have absolutely no idea what these tapes contain... and are not yet sure how or if they can be recovered. Do you have experience with this sort of data recovery? Please contact us immediately!

Original update published on August 11, 2012
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DAT was the most common standard around here for small and medium business in the 90's upway to the 2008. You have experience and knowledge of restoring data from the mythic archive project, all you need is a DAT drive that is an equal or higher generation DAT then those tapes are. 1996 you are looking at DAT3 probably. The drives are not uncommon, and easily salvaged from a discarded NT/2000/2003 server.
Do you have any idea on the software used, Arcserve or Backup exec? You can download trial versions to attempt a restore...
If you do figure it out I'll be interested - I think I still have a WCIV DAT tape as well. No idea what's on it either but I'm pretty sure it's a backup of stuff I worked on...
My dad and my granddad used to deal with DAT backups all the time. Of course, they're both dead now, so it'd be somewhat difficult for them to do the work.

That came off as morbid, didn't it? :oops:

I do know a couple of other computer gurus; I'll check with them and see what I can learn.
They seem to be in good condition! Most of them were apparently stored in those cardboard boxes since 1997.
Do you have the drive installed in a working system? And do you have any of the software left used to recover data from the mythic project?
Some DAT drives will only read back so far. What capasity DAT drive do you have and what capasity are the cartrages? Do you know what software they used to back up with? That would be a BIG help.
My DAT drive is an external HP SureStore DAT24 SCSI unit.

Will get you more information on the tapes themselves when I get home.

No idea what software was used to back them up.
Did you buy the drive after the fact or did it come with the tapes? You do have a SCSI controlor and cable right?

Do you know what OS they were using on their workstation? If they were using NT they may have used the built in NT backup. Just a thought.
No, haven't been able to figure out anything about what they initially used for the backup. The drive is mine, purchased separately.
The tapes in the picture are DDS and DDS2 standard, LOAF has a DDS3 drive, I've read back plenty of tapes in identical situations. And a DDS5 drive can still read/write DDS1/2.

Now as for the OS, in 1996 this would be either WindowsNT3.5, 4.0, and pre-linux Novell (3.x/4.x) . Arcserve can read back previous versions without any hassle, whereas backupexec only goes back a version or 2/3 depending on the build. I know linux can read raw and multiple formats, but never had the situation where I had to recover something from an unknown enviroment.

Now depending on how far you want to go, I'd ask around first among friends who have possibly disgarded old servers stored somewhere(a school is always a good bet).

Unfortunately, I(as in myself, maybe someone else does!) know of no way to let even a modern virtual serverplatform that can connect to a physical tape drive or even get the physical SCSI card to be adressed directly, so you are limited to using a physical machine with the proper OS that recognizes the installed SCSI adapter card for reading back the tapes. Maybe head back to that used computer store to try and find a early to mid-90's server that sports a SCSI card to connect your drive to?
That sounds right if they were created on a PC platform, but the 90's had tons of work done on Unix as well - video editing and the like, and maybe even the Amiga for video. Or hell, a Mac even, since they all practically came with SCSI ports by default. I think there was a previous recovery effort done by the CIC that used a whole pile of different machines.

Especially if it was a backup done with a file server. (If it was UNIX, there's a chance it could be a simple "tar")
My Dads company used to back up to these things; I asked the question and he doesn't still have the drive and software but if all else fails is pretty confident their IT support company would know how/ be able to recover them.
The Prophecy tapes are labeled "/vol/abyss/prophecy" and then the date if that tells you anything.