Oct 10, 2008

Backup Media: Tape, DVD, CD....Paper?

Hello folks! You read that title correctly, paper can be used as a form of backup media. I am not talking about printing out your documents and filing them away in some nondescript binder to gather dust, no this one is a little more complicated than that.

I first want to point out that I would probably never use this as I don't really think that paper makes for a reliable backup media. The main reason for writing about it is that the particular program I am about to talk about is simply fascinating as hell.

Without further ado, on today's what the f@^k o'meter, I present PaperBack. Like it says above, this program lets you backup all your files to...PAPER. Very weird.

Dilbert Disaster Recovery PlanWhat it does is it converts the binary data of your files and converts them to over sized bitmaps that you print out. To restore it all you need is a local scanner. If you want to try it out, I created a paper backup of a cool new FREE anti virus software I am testing out called PC Tools Antivirus. You can download the file in PDF format, print it out and try to restore it using PaperBack to try it out. Careful though, it is 88 pages. Here is the file if you are brave enough: (Free Antivirus In PDF Form).

Another cool thing about this weird little program is it doesn't require any installation. It is a self running executable so you can run it from your USB thumb drive if you want.

So you are probably saying to yourself, "Why the hell would I want this utility El Di Pablo?" and to be honest, I asked myself the same question. Here is the answer the creators give on their website:

You may ask - why? Why, for heaven's sake, do I need to make paper backups, if there are so many alternative possibilities like CD-R's, DVD±R's, memory sticks, flash cards, hard disks, streamer tapes, ZIP drives, network storages, magnetooptical cartridges, and even 8-inch double-sided floppy disks formatted for DEC PDP-11? (I still have some). The answer is simple: you don't. However, by looking on CD or magnetic tape, you are not able to tell whether your data is readable or not. You must insert your medium into the drive (if you have one!) and try to read it.

Paper is different. Do you remember the punched cards? EBCDIC and all this stuff. For years, cards were the main storage medium for the source code. I agree that 100K+ programs were... unhandly, but hey, only real programmers dared to write applications of this size. And used cards were good as notepads, too. Punched tapes were also common. And even the most weird codings, like CDC or EBCDIC, were readable by humans (I mean, by real programmers).

Do I expect you to run out and start using this program as your primary means of data backup? Hell no! Do I want you to check it out because of its unusual nature? Hell yes! Give it a try, tell your friends about it. If it is good for anything, it is certainly good for a laugh.

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