Lots of Old Onions

Chris Muller, George Blood | BitCurator Consortium

Way back in the day, before there was a widely acknowledged set of skills and tools known as Digital Forensics, the boots-on-the ground needed to figure out ways to deal with information from a crazy number of incompatible word processors, minicomputers, and mainframes. The work was typically called “media conversion”. Today, we like to call dealing with arcane media and file types “data rescue”. Many of the lessons learned in those days have been incorporated (and improved) into great initiatives such as the Bit Curator. But we believe that—even now—some of the old insights, along with talk of some interesting projects. For example… We thought of the tasks as something like peeling back the layers of an onion:

  1. Media Compatibility (we’ll show several tape and diskette types)
  2. Age and Storage Conditions (e.g. tape cleaning/baking)
  3. Recording Method (density, interleaving, checksums, etc.) If no funding for 4-7, save those bits with disk and tape images.
  4. Operating System/File System (IBM, DEC, Wang, Honeywell, etc. etc.)
  5. Backup, Exchange, or Archiving SW (several choices within each #4)
  6. Application File Structure (sequential, indexed, chained, etc.)
  7. Application File Encoding (database, wp, reports, images, A/V)
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BitCurator Consortium Presentations
Cite this resource:
Chris Muller, George Blood. (April 28, 2017). Lots of Old Onions. BitCurator Consortium.