Backing up old hard drives in repaired RiscPC

Arc/RPCs, peripherals, RISCOS operating system & ARM kit eg GP2x, BeagleBoard
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Backing up old hard drives in repaired RiscPC

Post by VectorEyes » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:17 pm

Hi everyone,

I recently resurrected my old RiscPC, got rid of the leaking CMOS battery, cleaned it up, and got it booting up.

The next thing I want to do is to see whether the hard drives are useable, and if so clone them onto some kind of removable solid state system (SD card, pretending to be an IDE interface, perhaps?) so I'm able to keep using the data, but also regularly back up the images.

It strikes me that the initial "clone onto something that isn't a 20-year-old-mechanical-drive" step is something I might only have one shot at. There's an 850Mb IDE drive and a 2GB SCSI drive. I've left both of them unpowered while I work out how to get everything set up so that I'm able to copy the data off the first time I turn the machine on with the drives powered up.

So... is there a generally accepted way of handling this? I've thought of buying an IDE->USB interface and running some kind of disc-cloning software with the drive plugged into a PC, but that only works for the IDE drive. Alternatively, if I could get a solid-state "SD card pretending to be an IDE drive" interface in there, perhaps I could boot up the machine with only the solid-state drive active, confirm that I could read and write files to it, then boot up with both active and simply copy the contents from the mechanical to the SD?

(It doesn't help that I have almost no memory of how it was all configured, how the SCSI drivers were installed, etc!)

If anyone has gone through the pain of this before and has any tips to share or things to avoid, I'd appreciate any advice!

Last edited by VectorEyes on Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Backing up old hard drives in nepaired RiscPC

Post by flaxcottage » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:04 pm

If you have two IDE interfaces in the RISC-PC then it is easy. Connect a CF-card adapter into the second IDE channel with a 2Gb CF-card. Format the card using the appropriate HForm program. Attach your IDE drive and copy across. Repeat this process using as many CF cards as you need with the SCSI drive.

The chances are that there will be a limited amount of data on the hard drives anyway.

Another way, which I used on an A5000, is to use a Zip drive through the parallel printer port.
- John


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Re: Backing up old hard drives in repaired RiscPC

Post by VectorEyes » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:33 pm

Thanks! Sadly, I only have one IDE interface, the one on the motherboard.

A bit of research suggests this could be a problem, because, to quote the Risc OS FAQ, "the motherboard interface requires the drive to provide the /IOCS16 signal which has long been deprecated from the ATA standards", so apparently any modern IDE interface I plug in isn't going to work anyway. But, that being said, there seem to be a variety of IDE->SD or IDE->CF interfaces available pretty cheaply from CJE Micros that say they're compatible with Acorn motherboard interfaces. Maybe I should just go with one of those? Or there's this interesting-sounding UniPod expansion that sounds rather nice as well!

(Zip Drive sounds like a possibility but I'd rather keep things simple if possible! Get new hard drive set up, copy everything as quickly as possible ... phew, no need to worry about the old drive crashing!)

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Re: Backing up old hard drives in repaired RiscPC

Post by z80 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:19 pm

VectorEyes wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:33 pm
apparently any modern IDE interface I plug in isn't going to work anyway.
If you're able to solder, that's easy to overcome if you don't mind modding a drive. (You can also mod the motherboard, but there's less space to work.) The later IDE ones left /IOCS16 unconnected, and you can pull it in the right direction (ideally via a suitable resistor) to convince the RiscPC to talk to it. (It's not a destructive mod to the drive --- the drive won't know and nothing besides your RiscPC will care --- but even if it was, what else are you gonna use one for?)

Personally I'd do the IDE backup on a modern Linux box, using ddrescue, through a USB<->IDE adapter; then I'd keep the backups there too (but that's what I'm familiar with). ddrescue is designed to be gentle with a drive yet maximise recovery. Once imaged, Linux should also be able to read-only mount the clone, which might come in handy.

I'm sure the CJE adapters are fine for the ongoing problem of regular backups if they fit your budget; the CF ones look cheap, but I think they leave the /IOCS16 problem for the CF card to tackle(?), and I wouldn't bet on CF's future availability. SD ones are dearer but probably make compatibility problems go away.

SCSI seems much harder. If you have an old enough PC lying around with a PCI motherboard, you could buy it a SCSI adapter for next to nothing. I can't find any PCI-Express SCSI card with a 50-pin interface, but I gather there are PCIe 68-pin cards and special 68-to-50 cables. USB<->SCSI was once a thing ("USB2Xchange") but is now rare enough that it's close to 200 quid. So perhaps your least hard option there is to clone via your new IDE-adapted card, then consider retiring the SCSI drive.

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Re: Backing up old hard drives in repaired RiscPC

Post by ajw99uk » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:47 pm

Anyone willing to entrust their SCSI drive to a postal service, and pay return postage, please PM me as I have necessary hardware to do this - but no special kit, so if the drive is already dying, the attempt may kill it!

For purists, I might be able to use a RiscPC for the whole process, depending on which SCSI interface you have (partition schemes vary, though I could try the dd-esque code from the RISC iX cloning project).
Running RISCOS: A5000, A540, R140, RiscPC, RPi B
Running *nix: SGI Fuel & Indigo2, RPi2, x86, amd64, RiscPC, A540, R140

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