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Jared
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:27 pm

Does anyone know if it's possible to read an IOMega Ditto drive in any OS newer than Windows 95? Perhaps in Linux?

It's a tape drive system but It just plugs into a standard LPT port and was designed to be for standard desktop devices. I've got a customer who brought one in asking for me to read a couple tapes, and I've got to configure a computer for it. I see it includes Windows 95 drivers but I can't seem to find any more recent support.

I'm considering perhaps spinning up a VM and trying to port an LPT add-in card to the VM. Anyone ever done this and have any insights for me?

jol
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:19 pm

WOW, 20 years ago was the last time I've used it
IIRC you should have a driver for DOS
and if you do you can find a workaround to capture it in WIN
alternatively you might use it under dos ((maybe) using DDI which is DOS based)
Jared wrote:I'm considering perhaps spinning up a VM and trying to port an LPT add-in card to the VM. Anyone ever done this and have any insights for me?

A VM is not a bad idea, but I've never tried it
(setting it up in DOS (or maybe A DOS VM) IMHO will be quicker)
if you need help let me know and I'll scratch up the dust that has accumulated on mine over the years and see what can be done

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Jared
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:05 am

OK, so I managed to get the Ditto drive installed in a VM. Unfortunately I think the tape is degraded beyond reading. That or the drive itself is no good. I just keep getting a "The cartridge has despooled" error whenever I try to access it.

Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Install an LPT port PCIe card along with all the necessary drivers.
Step 2: Install VMWare Workstation Player (Special Note: if you install this before you set up the LPT card you'll need to uninstall and reinstall it to have the LPT port forwarding driver. If it doesn't detect an LPT port it doesn't install this by default.)
Step 3: Set up a Windows 98 SE VM using VMWare Workstation software and install the ditto tools software from the original CD-ROM. Then shut down the VM.
Step 4: Configure the VM to have the LPT port forwarded to it. You can do that as follows:
Step 1.jpg
Step 2.jpg
Step 3.jpg
Step 4.jpg

it's up to you whether you want to select the specific LPT port or just leave it as "Auto Detect". If you only have one LPT port it shouldn't matter.
Step5: Power up the VM with the IOMega Ditto tape drive connected to the LPT port and powered on. It'll take a long time booting up, but be patient. It'll eventually finish booting and will then pop up saying it found new hardware and it should automatically install the appropriate driver for it.

If, like me, you get errors from VMWare Player saying: "Failed to connect virtual device 'parallel0'." you'll need to run a registry patch to fix a bug relating to VMWare Workstation version 14 which they haven't addressed yet.

You can install the patch by simply running this file:
Attachments
Patch.reg
(583 Bytes) Downloaded 67 times

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Jared
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:10 am

Unfortunately in this case I was unable to recover the needed tape. The software could see the drive and tried to access it, but either the drive itself or the tape was dysfunctional. It just keeps giving an error saying that the tape had become unspooled.

jol
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:45 pm

from here

16. What is the expected shelf life of a tape cartridge? Under normal use, the tape shelf life is indefinite. Over time, the tape will degrade and may require re-formatting or retensioning.

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Jared
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:53 pm

Yes, I actually opened the tape up to see if it really had unspooled. What I found was interesting. From this picture I found online there's obviously a rubber band of sorts that acts as a belt to keep both spools spinning in sync;

Image

Yet, when I opened up the one my customer brought in, the band is completely missing. Not just broken or degraded as you might expect a 20+ year old rubber band to be, but completely missing. So either it dissolved completely into dust, or somehow got removed from the cartridge. I did find a suitable size rubber band to put in and it seems like it works to keep them spinning in sync when i turn the tape by hand, but the reader is now just spitting out a different error about the tape.

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abedalkareem
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:50 am

Out of curiosity Jared
How much such a case quotes ??

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Jared
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IOMega Ditto Tape Drive Recovery

Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:22 am

I'm honestly doing this just out of curiosity since I've never dealt with Ditto Dash Tapes before. The customer brought in the whole drive and the tape which was good the last time he'd used it. He just didn't have a computer old enough to run it anymore.

I think I told him it'd be $125 to just copy the tape assuming nothing was actually wrong with it. Since obviously, that's not the case I'm going to have to let the customer know it's worse than he thought. I don't think it's worth getting too much deeper into this particular one since I don't specialize in failed tape recovery. But, it was something interesting to investigate this week.

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