Old Backup Tapes

I was cleaning out the storage room in my basement when I came across a big box of diskettes that I used to backup my PCs in the eighties. There must have been 300 diskettes in this box. Most of them were clearly labelled with something like; "c: drive - 3/10/86". These diskettes were starting to bring back memories of my first computers and how I spent countless hours writing programs and utilities. My first instinct was to put them back on the shelf, and then I remembered that I was cleaning out the basement to get rid of stuff, not to keep stuff I don't need. Since there was no chance that I would ever need these backups, I put them in the trash pile.
Old backup media
A few minutes later, I found a box of about 60 of the old 20MB QIC tapes. Remember those, sloooooow is a good description. As I recall, it would take about two or three hours to backup enough data to fill up one of those tapes. Now, I am thinking to myself, why am I keeping these old tapes. Then I find another box of 2120 tapes with a capacity of about 120MB each, again clearly labelled backups from the late eighties. I recall paying $15 - $20 apiece for these tapes and there must have been about 40 or 50 of them. Next, I run across a box of 4mm backup tapes, nicely labelled as backups from the early nineties. These held a whopping 2GB each. I certainly can't justify taking up space and cluttering my basement with any of these old tapes. I don't even have the tape drives that I could use to restore them. I also found my more recent DLT tapes and the AIT 8mm tapes that I used just a couple of years ago. It might make sense to keep those DLT and AIT tapes because I actually have tape drives that can restore them.

I must be a real data pack-rat for keeping all of those old backup tapes. The trash pile is growing and so is the available space in basement storage room. I should have discarded this stuff a long time ago. I started hauling the trash pile up stairs so I can get it out to the garbage receptacle. Then it dawns on me that I might be making a big mistake. This stuff could be a goldmine for a high-tech thief who wants to steal my identity. Actually it probably wouldn't take a genius to find some old hardware at a flea market that could be used to get my financial records from the past 20 years, not to mention intellectual property, and who knows what else. What about old letters, source code... hmm, maybe I shouldn't just put these tapes and diskettes out in the garbage.

I need to make sure they are destroyed and the contents cannot be read. Maybe, I should smash every one of them with a hammer. I decided against that because of the mess it would make. Besides, I am not convinced that I would destroy them thoroughly enough so that no data can be retrieved from a single one of them. Well, I can burn them. That would do it. Only problem is, I don't have a place to burn things. I need a big barrel like the ones you might see at a construction site where they burn scrap wood to keep warm. I don't have a barrel and even if I did, I doubt that the city would take very kindly to a barrel in front of my house billowing out thick black smoke from burning plastic. Can you imagine the smell of burning tapes?

I guess its back to the basement with these boxes of tapes. Oh, now I remember why I haven't thrown these out before. If you check back here in about five years you will probably see another post just like this one when I decide to clean out my basement again. But next time, I won't have a new box of tapes because I am using Online Backup for most of my backup needs now.

1 comment:

Mister Duffy said...

So, I find myself in a similar position. The difference is, I need to restore the tapes but I don't know how I made them! Is there some way I can interrogate the headers and find out what program I used?