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January 02, 2017

Where's your backup media in the new year?

DAT72Here in the opening days of the New Year it's time to resolve your way to a cleaner 2017. People in the US and the UK voted for changes starting this year and they'll get some, including unexpected ones. You don't want unexpected change on your homesteading HP 3000 system, though. One of the simplest means to forestall a crisis is getting fresh media for your backups. MPE/iX system backups are no better than the media they employ.

Not long ago, a 3000 manager was looking for fresh DLT tape for his backups. Tape remains a part of the backup regimen at some shops, never more true than at a site still using HP's 3000 hardware. DDS drive verification should be among your new year's examinations.

New tape media is available for purchase. New tape all the way back to DDS-1 is on the Data Tech Store website. As a minimum 2017 homestead resolution, write a fresh backup onto new tape.

Disk backup will pull your homestead practices out of the 1990s. As DLT technology fades, cheap high capacity Serial ATA discs took their turn as the method of choice for large backups. Store to disk should be the next generation of MPE/iX backup. Using an SCSI to SATA converter, newer drives can capture backups from 3000s. HP's SCSI storage devices for 3000s are at least a decade old by now. SATA disks work well for smaller systems where Model 20 HP backup units are overkill.

The age of media can be offset by more recent design. Although it's slower and has lower capacity, tape is a seasoned technology. On the other hand, disk has the advantage of being engineered more recently. Pencils versus rollerball pens is a similar consideration. You know exactly how long a pencil can be used. Pens are more indelible but expire unexpectedly.

MPE/iX servers created using the Charon emulator from Stromasys can even employ SSD disks for backups. Verifying any media, new or old, should be on a manager's to-do list for 2017. It's even better to craft a regimen that rotates fresh media, whether you're relying on tape or storing to disk.

If your management style takes incremental steps into change, then using classic backup technology alongside newer host options might work. For example, even while using the Charon emulator, an external DAT device can be plugged in to keep backups. A few years back, Paul Taffel reported on DLT tape options for the Stromasys hosts that use what us old-timers call PCs. Charon will boot up on something as modest as a laptop, he pointed out.

I had a USB-connected external DAT 72 drive and plugged it into my laptop. It is very simple to hook this HP DAT drive up to any PC (server or laptop) running Charon HPA. The drive can read and write older DDS-3 and DDS-4 tapes, and is a very cost-effective solution.  I picked one up new for $300. There's also the old-way, which involves adding a SCSI controller card to the server PC, and then connecting a SCSI tape drive.

Independent software support has embraced the mission of taking 3000 backups onto the Charon emulator. Keven Miller of 3k Ranger wrote a utility a few years back that will

  • Convert MPE STD (Store-to-Disk) files to/from HPA/3000 Tape Image files
  • Create an MPE STD file
  • Convert the STD to a tape image file
  • Transfer the image to your Charon HPA emulated system.
  • Link the image to a tape device
  • Put the tape online in your VM MPE
  • VSTORE or RESTORE from the STD

You gotta love automation for backup processes, especially while making changes for the new year.

08:50 AM in Homesteading | Permalink

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