I just bought a USB floppy drive from OfficeDepot, so that I’d have a convincingly working, fast floppy drive to use to go through about 100 old 3.5″ floppies I found hanging around in a box when I moved. The floppies were packed next to about 20 Iomega ZIP disks and a NeXT magneto-optical disk. What is on all of these things? Who the heck knows? But I knew I wanted to know.
The easiest problem to solve was the floppies. Poring through them using the new floppy drive I found old resumes, old journals, and old source code – in fact I found what may be my only copy of the source code for the arcade game I worked on in 1994-1995. I also found a whole bunch of old drivers and software for DOS, Windows95, all manner of old things that I don’t need any more. Pretty entertaining. 🙂
But now I wonder what is on those ZIP disks… I have an old ZIP drive lying around at home looking like it may just work if I plug it in to something. So I’ll give that one a shot next. The NeXT MO disk though… where the heck can I find something to read that? And would the data even still be on there? The NeXT drives were notoriously flaky, and a quick look through ebay finds a few NeXT workstations for sale labelled “MO drive not guaranteed to work”. So that one may be a little tougher.
It is weird to have all this old media though, and realize just how easy it is to lose data. It seems like I spend too much time thinking about what to do with my data. At the moment I have a Windows Home Server which does a great job of preserving my files, although mostly the machine sits in my office bored and lonely. But at least I know that what I have on there is RAIDed and safe.
The good news is that slowly we are getting to a point where I can put almost all the data I have on a small portable drive. I bet a terabyte would cover it. Within a few years we’ll have portable drives that size, and I won’t need to worry about this – I’ll just keep multiple copies of all my files and sync them to each other as I travel around. The era of carrying around a small portion of my files on a portable device will seem silly.
Unless I start doing a lot of HD video. Oh no, that reminds me… I have all sorts of audio tapes and VHS tapes at home too. I wonder what I have stored on those? Sigh. I guess this process might take awhile.