Transferring Data from an Old Hard Drive by Dirk Hart
Email: [email protected]
Yesterday the winds shifted and blew from the north east. Any
sort of trouble can blow in on these winds and one of my clients
called to report they had their fair share of trouble.
The machine I had installed in 1993 had developed a problem with
the hard disk controller. I quickly checked with the manufacturer
and they had never even heard of EISA SCSI controllers and don't
even put ISA slots in their machines anymore.
Since this client had a new SCO Unix machine they had not yet
put in production I decided to brave the elements and see what
could be recovered from their old SCSI hard drive. For sometime
this client had known that their daily backup did not include all
the files that they needed to restore in case of a disaster, but
had neglected to restify the situation nor inform the computer
nerd. There was no choice except to attempt to read the old
The old hard drive was quickly removed from the old machine and
found a perch on the new machine which I had opened and turned on
it's side. I think this sort of computer wrangling might be the
computer nerd equivalent of what caballeros and cowboys do when
In the same way that cowboys have lariats and lassoes the well
equipped computer nerd has a SCSI to SCSI-3 adapter in his
briefcase and I used mine to connect the SCSI ribbon cable to the
old hard drive. A power connector was fished out of the innards of
the new machine and plugged into the old hard drive. In 1993 hard
drive manufacturers had not yet had the idea that all SCSI hard
drives should have a jumper pin chart on them. Being in a rush I
took a jumper from the well equipped computer nerds briefcase and
applied it to the jumper pins. I'm sure I could have found a
configuration chart on the web for this hard drive but this
customer didn't have any high speed internet access and 'swag'
seemed more expedient than exact science. And on the second try the
new machine's SCSI controller told me there was a drive on SCSI ID
0 and another drive on SCSI ID 4.
It's easy to get confused about partitions and divisions,
particularly because other OS's (like Linux) do this sort of thing
differently. Most SCO systems have ONE partition, and that
partition is divided into multiple divisions. File systems are
created on divisions, not partitions. In Linux and some other
Unixes, filesystems are created directly on partititions.
Further confusion is caused because most of us will
automatically refer to the "swap partitition"- on SCO, we know what
we mean, but it usually is not a separate partitin- it's a division
in a partition.
See "man HW hd" for a description of what device nodes refer to
what, and remember that "fdisk" creates partitions, "divvy" divides
partitions, and filesystems are created on divisions. SCO systems
can have more than one partition, and each in turn would be divided
into divisions for filesystems, but normally SCO would have one
large partition covering the entire drive.
When the machine had booted into single user mode I used mkdev
hd to describe this drive to sco unix and when prompted typed in
adapter 0, SCSI ID 4 and LUN 0. The new machine wanted to build a
new kernel and when it was done I rebooted the new machine. Back in
single user mode I tried to mount /dev/hd11 on /mnt. Of course this
didn't work because although I had described the drive to the
system, I had not described the existing partitions and divisions
on the old hard drive to the new system. I ran divvy /dev/hd10
(/dev/hd10 is the second drive; the first one is /dev/hd00) and
noticed that none of the divisions were named. You can't mount a
division if it ain't got no name so lacking imagination I named the
first one old0 and the third one old2. I was not interested in the
second division since it seemed to be 16MB in size which is double
the amount of memory in the old system; I figured this was the swap
division. (Yes, this client had been running their entire business
on a unix server for over seven years on an eight MB machine. Such
is the power of Unix.)
Again I tried to mount /dev/hd11 /mnt. No Joy! I realized that
the filesystems had not been shut down properly because of the
controller failure and ran fsck /dev/hd11. I then mounted the first
division (/dev/old0 ) and saw the files I needed and copied them to
the new hard drive.
Copying the files took about 10 minutes. I shut down the new
system, removed the old hard drive putting in the safe, closed up
the new system and rebooted.
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