Software preservation at RISC OS London Show

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Something that has been increasingly talked about in recent years is how to preserve old software, to ensure it doesn’t disappear when old discs, etc, become unreadable, with a number of people taking steps to do just that. One such person is Paul Emerton, who will be at the London Show to talk about the subject, and hopefully take the necessary steps to preserve any software people may bring along.

So, if you have any old BBC Micro or Archimedes software discs, it’s worth bringing them along to the show, and if the Acorn Preservation Team don’t already have a copy in their archive, Paul will endeavour to read the contents of the discs to fill that gap. The aim is to perform this task there and then at the show, so you can then take your disc(s) back home with you after.

The tool Paul will be using to perform this task is a Greaseweazle, which crawls inside the disc casing… no, okay, it’s a USB interface and tools that allow floppy discs to be read at the raw magnetic flux level, which can often allow discs to be read that may not be readable in your old computers – and therefore doesn’t care about the specific disc format – and allows their contents to be preserved exactly. Even if a disc has some form of copy protection, the Greaseweazle will still be able to read it and will therefore allow its contents to be preserved in its original protected format.

At a later date, if or when it is necessary, the images created by the device can be used to create images in other formats suitable for use in emulated systems, for example – or even written back to new floppy discs.

If you have any such discs to bring along, and you want copies of the images read from them for yourself, remember to bring a suitable USB flash drive or SD card to store them on – and please note that the resulting images can actually be very large; sometimes up to 85MB each!

And if you have any discs that may need preserving, but can’t bring them along, talk to Paul for advice on the best way to store them, to avoid them degrading (or degrading further) and avoid damage to drives that can happen as a result.

Don’t forget – the show takes place on Saturday, 30th October, at the St Giles Hotel, Feltham!