Thu, Jun 15, 2017, 12:16am Epic Backup Project, Volume II: EZ-135 and Zip-100
Computers
T
oday I decided to go thru the modest collection of EZ-135 and Zip-100 drives that I still have. Yesterday's work getting the PowerMac G4 on a clean copy of Tiger made this relatively easy to attack, but it was still surprisingly slow and aggravating. There's a reason this old machine had a hardware reset button that would instantly reboot the machine whenever you needed it, and I must've poked it a dozen times today. And then there are the other two or three dozen times I used the software reboot.

The reason I thought this would be easy: 1) the G4 has proven that it can file share with my MacPro running Sierra, where the master backups drives are attached; 2) The G4 has a built-in Zip-100 drive; 3) It has a SCSI card adapter and I was able to find the SCSI connectors that plug in to the EZ-135 drive, and I found its power supply. And I only have ten EZ-135 and six Zip-100 drives (they were relatively expensive to a grad student at the time).

Alas, it took most of the evening to actually finish the job. There was much about the EZ-135 drive that I had forgotten about. While you do not need to install any drivers to get a new OS to recognize volumes mounted in it, you do have to do everything in the right order. Turn on the EZ-135 drive until you hear a working drive ramping up, then boot the computer. From there, ideally, you can eject a given drive and pop another one in, and so on.

But often there is a hiccup and the drives will stop reading. I would think the drive is bad, and then find that it would no longer mount any of them anymore. You then have to turn off the machine, turn off the EZ-135 drive, then turn on the EZ-135, then boot the machine. Not doing that order correctly a number of times wasted a decent amount of time.

Even getting a drive mounted and visible didn't mean the copy would succeed, and perhaps the whole OS would stall indefinitely, forcing a reboot. Happened many times. And, just to shake things up, every 6th? time I put a drive in, I'd get a kernel panic.

But persevere I did, and I was able to finally read all but one of the EZ-135 drives. (Verifying that last one drive really was bad meant triggering several kernel panics and/or reboots.) The nice change from yesterday's 3.5" disk vision quest was that the actual copy operations went very quickly when they worked.

The Zip-100s went very smoothly in comparison. I only had 6 of them, and the drive was built-in. That said, 3 of the 6 went bad over the years. 50% attrition rate compared to the above 10% attrition is interesting. Back in the day, during that short window when these drives were revolutionary (and they were!), I always felt the EZ-135 drives were the better pony to bet on.

From there, AFP to the MacPro and into the archives they went. I'll keep the physical drives and equipment in the storage closet. Ya never know.

I seem to have everything collected now (I did all my hard drives, CDs and DVDs before I decided to blog these last few episodes), and the next step is creating The Master Archive. A non-redundant, categorized snapshot of the whole gang. Stay tuned! Or don't. I'm not going to pretend this is super exciting, but there are interesting practical issues that I want to get to in another posting.

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