Sunday, June 28, 2015

Father-in-law computer. Next project isn't going to be easy

I was asked to back up all of the files my father-in-law has accumulated over the decades and put them on to USB memory sticks.  Think it is real easy right?  Not really.  Here is what I will be working with:
  • Pentium class computer, old slow processor (well under 1 Ghz).
  • Windows 95.
  • No USB ports.
  • No network card.
  • Almost 100 3.5" floppy drives.
  • A good number of ZIP disk drives.  He has a parallel port model.
  • About 100 CDs and DVDs.

The last item was real easy, I popped that into my new laptop DVD drive, oh crap, it doesn't have a DVD.  Not a problem there as I am lucky to have an external CD/DVD drive that works in Windows 8.1.  I found a good number of CDs that I didn't create and quickly backed them up to a new folder on the machine.

The rest of it will take a bit of slogging.  He has not used the machine in over a year so I am really hoping it will boot up.  My father-in-law tended to store his documents, spreadsheets and pictures on external drives as he didn't want to fill up the hard drive.  Here is the order of what I will be doing:
  • Copy all documents that are on the hard drive to a CD.
  • Copy all docunments that are on the ZIP disks to a CD.  If the machine doesn't boot I am going to have to attach the ZIP drive to one of my older Linux laptops and pray.
  • Buy an External USB 3.5" drive (Canada Computers has them, YAY!) 
  • Check out a newer USB DVD drive as the current one is the size of several bricks and just as heavy (and slow).
  • Read every floppy on my new Laptop using the external USB drive and backup to the new directory.
  • Copy all documents from the CDs and then start making copies of the files for my sister-in-law.
After all of that is done I will also make a backup copy to my 1 TB external drive as multiple backups is a good idea.  Keep in mind that what technology you are using today may be obsolete in a few years and if your files are important then migrating them to a new medium is something you will need to do. Another thing to remember, if you buy a new laptop without a DVD drive you may want to invest in an external USB version.

Update 2015/07/02:

Finished the job.  Canada Computers did have that floppy drive and it worked very well.  I didn't have to install any software as Windows detected the drive.  It took almost two days, but, 81 folders, 3,722 files and a total size of 1.2 Gigs all the data was transferred.  This also includes my converting various graphic files to JPG format. All of the files were backed up to a USB flash drive.

The ZIP disks were transferred, but, the machine he had failed to boot.  It looks like the hard drive failed there.  That wasn't a major problem as I had an old Windows 98 machine with a parallel port and the ZIP drive ran from there.  The only 'fun' was installing the driver as the install floppy had errors. I will have to pull apart the machine and see if I can use the USB adapter for IDE drives and see if there is anything there I can salvage.

Sister-in-law is happy as a lot of images and documents created over the decades have been saved and available to all of the family.

Next mini-project 

Now to start scanning the various photo albums that we picked up.  I know a number of them I did scan many years ago and I will have to see what pictures I didn't scan and digitize them.  I reorganized my office layout so that the scanner is just a short reach away and I moved the printer to where the scanner was.  This isn't a major change, but, having the scanner a few inches away rather than several feet will make this an easier project.  The old layout worked as I didn't scan very often.

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