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Jim Smith

Archiving VW files

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Last year we were looking to get some information from old MiniCad files. I was successful in most of this work as I have an old Mac that would open many of the files. So I got to thinking (always a danger!); what happens when I fall off the twig? So I'm wondering what is the to best protocol to archive VW files? Should we take every backed-up file & batch convert it during a slow period? Maybe every 3rd or 5th years? 

Any best practice advise out there?

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The problem with VW (and actually most software) is the that hardware and operating systems keep changing. That means that at some point you end up with a condition where even if you have an old version of the software, it will be incompatible with the current OS and hardware.

 

So when you are archiving you should actually archive not only the files, but also the original program, and probably even the original hardware.

 

I have been considering, but have not yet implemented, an idea of doing a "virtual" archive of the hardware. By that I mean setting up a virtual machine with the current OS and current version of VW and keeping that as the backup. Then when you need to access the backup you are not rummaging through junk stores looking for old hardware, but only needing a way to run the old virtual machine on current hardware. Something that I would expect to be much easier.

 

At one time I actually set up a double virtual machine running on an Intel Mac. In the first virtual machine I ran a version of PowerPC OS10. Then inside of that I ran a copy of SheepShearer which is a virtual machine running 680X0 code. This let me run OS6 or 7 and Minicad 5 on a current Mac to rescue some old files.

 

The question about archiving is always how much of the data do you really need to get back. Batch convert occasionally is an OK idea, but unless you have the time to rework all of the drawings to make sure they converted correctly, you are still likely to lose some information. Especially after the 2nd or 3rd conversion.

 

What percentage of the files do you really think you will ever need the geometry from again? If it is a high enough percentage, then it might be worth the time to do the batch convert. If it is a low percentage, it might be better to just figure out how to recover the files you need when you need them. It all depends on what the value is and how much time it would take to recreate (since you already know what to draw, the recreation, if needed, will probably take far less time that the original design.

 

At the very least I would make PDF copies of everything. Probably even PDF/A which are designed to be archives and be recoverable at any time in the future. That way you can at least see what the output of the drawing was even if you can't access the geometry.

 

Difficult question with no good answers. Kind of like preparing for earthquakes. You do what you think needs to be done and then cross your fingers and hope that you don't ever need it, and that if you do that it is enough.

 

Glad to talk about this more if you have questions.

 

Oh, yeah, and remember, it is not backed up unless it is stored on at least three different types of media in at least two geographically separate locations. Yes, I know the Amazon cloud promises 99.9999% recoverability, but what happens when you are the 0.0001%??

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Thanks Pat,

This is a twisty complex issue involving the arms race between software & hardware & OS's. Up until 4 years ago my original Mac Classic worked with MiniCad 3 still running. Sadly it gave up the ghost soon after that. About the same time we were attempting to get info from old SyQuest drives, but ended up taking the information from old hard copies. 

As you say, PDF may be the best answer.

I guess it all comes down to triage of files & like other things; one may keep many files that never need to be accessed & a week after discarding others, is when you need that info.

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At the moment, i'd recommend that the VWX's be converted to the latest version every 3-5 years or so, a batch operation can be set up to do this over a weekend so it isn't obstructive to work, then likely a PDF as suggested above and a DWG export as well, which could now be set up as a batch operation too via Publish.

That should give the body of work the longest possible legs without creating too much manual tedious work.

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I  have been surprised how resilient our old files are. I've managed to open up archived disc files from as far back as 2006-2008 (although I wince at the drawings we produced then!)  

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On 1/5/2019 at 3:23 AM, Jim Wilson said:

At the moment, i'd recommend that the VWX's be converted to the latest version every 3-5 years or so, a batch operation can be set up to do this over a weekend so it isn't obstructive to work, then likely a PDF as suggested above and a DWG export as well, which could now be set up as a batch operation too via Publish.

That should give the body of work the longest possible legs without creating too much manual tedious work.

Would be a great upsell joint venture with an online storage/archive company (like Backblaze or similar) to do this at the farm on our behave, so to speak.

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On 1/6/2019 at 10:12 AM, David S said:

I  have been surprised how resilient our old files are. I've managed to open up archived disc files from as far back as 2006-2008 (although I wince at the drawings we produced then!)  

 

Yeah, I even still  had brown hair then! 

😁

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13 minutes ago, Jim Smith said:

 

Yeah, I even still  had brown hair then! 

😁

You can always re-render your hair. Select all/ choose a render like brick pink/ job done!

 

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@David S 

 

Yeah tried the re-render route & even with a Custom Texture the render failed. I suspect that the underling structure requires an addition to shore up the underling structural deficiencies ....

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