darp1.jpgThe EEDPRPP report 2006 has an appendix containing results of readability investigations into 12 instances of obsolete formats. The term “obsolete format” seems to refer largely to media obsolescence, eg old DAT tape or punch cards. The team had to involve a specialist data recovery firm, UKDA and TNA too. The results seem pretty positive to me:

  • 6 out of the 12 were successful migrations.
  • 5 were cases where the media could not be read. So this is a media/harware failure, rather than a file format one.
  • Only 1 case was a failure to read the data’s file format, rather than dead media. This case was a 9 track tape reel of environment planning backup data from c 1988. Even here the work was abandoned due to cost/efficiency reasons. “Further analysis could be done on the file in order to try and interpret the contents and structure of the data. Although possible, this would be very time-consuming…”