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Something about Thanksgiving gives me the great feeling …

November 24, 2012

… of going round-and-around from fridge to leftovers to salvage turkey for the delightful L-tryptophan that helps sleep in those who know how to use it. I know that it’s delightful and that I used it for the real holiday.

Now that the last of Thanksgiving’s turkey has been examined and isolated in the fridge, feeling new inspiration doesn’t seem very difficult today.

I spent the last 60 hours between eating and holiday on shopping with a very small budget and purchased a shareware program called ISOBuster that has high user appeal and that also claims as much to represent the be-all, end-all of optical disk (and other media file) recovery as of now for all of my CDROMs.

Thinking back thru my sum-total naivety, I remember when I first got a real CDRW drive that could both read and write as many as 700 – 800 MB of files. This was the  year 2003, and I was so thrilled.

So, a couple years or so later I noticed that a bunch of my discs were no longer being treated as if anything were on them. This was very distressing, because I had made archive copies with intent to have them on-hand in case need ever broke out. And need would eventually, because hard disks don’t last forever. That was the whole point of going to the trouble to make the archive in the first place.

To my mind then, CD format was something like HFS (Hierarchical File System) and HPFS (High Performance File System).  These were very old CDROM formats indeed and precede more familiar abbreviations such as ISO-9660 and UDF x.xx. 

The great surprise was in a sort of slack discovery that the PCees had never evolved with optical disc hardware to support multiple drivers for files systems and therefore the situation emerged to where the data on my old archives was probably complete and intact, except that there was no capability equipped with the machines to read or interpret older disc-writing standards.

I find the matter no less oblique today and remain surprised that I had never encountered much ado about this form of neglect. Multiple platforms aside, all of my disc archives originated on PC and all of my “unreadable” discs were being “read” or rather “spun and rejected” asgibberish by later model PCees.

Worth mention concerns such fact that newer equipment should generally be backwards-compatible with older disks. And so, any archive once made on optical media should be readable by future generations of optical disk hardware. Even Blu-Ray and now-discontinued HD DVD optical disc machines evidently can read any strictly backward file system because of a provisional red laser or capacity, according to Wikipedia as well as CD-Info. Although there was no word on HFS and HSFS formats, I did run across a software program called WinISO that can handle an astonishing number of file formats and image files such as .NRG (Nero-related), MDS, WIM, IMG or ISO and others. 

All right — so if you want to read HFS or HSFS then you’ll need a plain vanilla CDROM. Except that I don’t really have any.

This all goes to show that you can’t rely on your PC Operating System to tell you the truth because the limitations of what it “knows” relate to the limited scope of its software, if not to its hardware so necessary to read an archived optical disc.

I’ve wondered how many CDROM’s I’ve inadvertently thrown away in error because of the driver-related issue. And I’ve loathed PCees for providing an incomplete package for some time now, at the point where it seems that whatever you get, it won’t necessarily be useful with existing optical archives.

So I’ve been waiting for a product like ISOBuster for some time now and really want to see it installed and recover my files so I can throw away a bunch of CDROMs that take up space at a ratio of 5:1 CDR:DVD-RW. Yes, I prefer DVD-RW because it just makes sense, although there’s got to be comfort in making DVD-R discs once you’ve settled on a permanent archive that will do more than sit around — because then it won’t be “replaced.” Do you know how those replacements go? It’s like putting disk partition or whole disk images on a slew of discs. This sort of thing should be happening a lot more than it probably does, but a standard collection of as many CDRW as necessary to make your complete hard drive imaged can help simplify the task of making those copies once every so often when you don’t want to rely on another hard drive.



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