MattInX's Miscellaneous Musings Say what now?

25Jan/160

A timely reminder

We all make regular backups, right? These days, it's easy to setup something largely fire and forget - things like crashplan, backuppc, timemachine, etc. What about our older systems? Making a working copy of your disks used to be standard practice; likewise saving your important files to more than one disk. How about backing up hard disk based systems? Sure, there was software out there to backup everything, but unless you had a tape drive you needed to use a lot of floppies. I remember backing up my Commodore A590 wasn't too bad - it was only a 20MB disk, and writing out to 880kb floppies meant you only needed 15-20 disks. When I got my A1200 with it's massive 60MB disk, I don't recall if I ever did a full backup - after all, I had all the programs on floppy, and I had my data backed up on floppy. Even if I had a backup from the last time it was in use, it wasn't in amongst all the disks I brought over with it. Nor, it seems, were any of my workbench disks. I'm sure you can see where this is leading.

Having got the A1200 up and running, I was happily poking around long-forgotten files and programs. Everything seemed fine, nothing unusual, until I decided to copy a copy of breakout from a floppy onto DH1:. That's where things started going downhill - the copy took forever, and trying to traverse into the directory after the copy completed took forever. Trying to launch the game just caused everything to hang - HDD LED on, but no sounds from the drive. Reboot the machine and after WB starts up, I'm presented with "Volume Work: is not validated" - uhoh - not good. Ok - I've got disksalv - let's see if it finds anything wrong. Maybe it's just a filesystem error. Again - takes forever to run, and doesn't find anything wrong. Well that's both good and bad; the filesystem is probably fine, but the disk probably isn't. It's just an 2.5" IDE disk, I've got the equipment to read it in another machine. Out comes the disk, into a USB carrier, and into a Linux machine it goes.

At this point, it's just straightforward disk recovery for a failing disk:

  1. Get the drive imaged (dd-rescue is an awesome tool for that)
  2. Copy the image
  3. Attempt filesystem recovery on the copy.

At this point, things started looking up - dd-rescue was able to read all but half a dozen sectors (which all timed out reads). The resulting image was the right size, and when attached to UAE booted right up. Disksalv was run again, this time taking a lot less time (it's amazing how much faster disk IO is on modern hardware), and again, didn't find any errors. Guess there wasn't anything too critical in the bad area of the disk. At this point, I shut down UAE and backed up the disk image again - now I just need to get it back onto hardware the A1200 is happy with. My preferred solution would be Compact Flash, but I don't have a CF to 2.5" IDE carrier, only 3.5" intended to plug right into the motherboard, not into a cable. A quick rummage through my box of parts revealed an ancient 527MB laptop drive which looked like a likely candidate. Into the USB carrier with this disk and it looks like we might be in business, but before trusting this disk I run a complete badblocks destructive read/write test which passes without any errors. Perfect.

dd'ing the image out to this drive works just fine, but the disk metadata identifies it as a 60MB drive. I can use HDToolbox to change this, but then my partition table isn't valid anymore. If we're going to jump through these hoops, let's just do a clean install and copy the data back - after all, UAE is quite happy with the disk image, and it can be pointed at a physical disk as well. I can even take the opportunity to copy a few other files over to make life easier in future. It was at this point I realised my Workbench disks weren't in my disk box. After a bit of head-scratching, I remembered that Amiga Forever comes with a full set of Workbench 3.1 media. A quick google confirms that WB 3.1 should run just fine on Kickstart 3.0, so let's give it a try.

I put the "new" disk back into the USB carrier and zeroed it out, then plugged it into the system with Amiga Forever. Fire up UAE and add the physical disk, along with the WB 3.1 install disk. Open up the properties window for HDToolbox and set SCSI_DEVICE_NAME=uaehf.device then launch HDToolbox. Probe the drive and we have a new 527MB disk, which can be partitioned normally. Then kick off the installer and away we go. Once the install completes, it's just a matter of rebooting UAE and letting it boot from the hard disk and I'm sitting at a clean Workbench 3.1 desktop. Mount my A1200's disk image and now I can just copy across the programs and data, make a few tweaks to S:Startup-Sequence to add some required aliases, and things are looking good. Shut everything down again and remove the disk. Pop the disk back in the Amiga, close everything up, turn on the power, and... nothing? A kickstart boot screen? That's not good. Open the system up and reseat all the cables, put the lid back on and power it on. This time it boots right up - just like it did in UAE.

This system will get a CF retrofit at some point, but right now, it's got a disk that's practically contemporary with the system itself, and absolutely massive by those standards.

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