How to recover my files!
April 20, 2010 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I used to own a PowerMac 6100 running OS 9. This was the pre-Steve Jobs era so I lost hope in Apple ever getting it together and moved on to a PC. How can I access my old documents?

I saved the old SCSI hard drives from the Mac even as I got rid of the computer itself. Now, I have these SCSI hard drives, but no way to access the data within. What are my options? I do have an old Adaptec SCSI card lying around.

Are there any options for emulating an old PowerMac 6100? I would imagine that my Core2Duo CPU is more than up to the task of emulating a PowerMac 6100, but is there such a thing?

I would love to actually emulate my old OS 9 mac, but failing that, I would settle for getting the old documents (such as MS Word Docs) off of the HFS formatted SCIS HD.

What are your suggestions?
posted by apark to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In terms of software, your current Mac will be able to read the hard drives automatically; they're in probably HFS+ format just like your current Mac's hard drive. Even if they're in the old HFS format they'll still be readable.

The hard part is the hardware: connecting the old drives to your computer. I don't know how to do that but surely someone will come along and tell you.

Another hard part is file formats, which you might need old software to open, but I think at least MS Word will open old Word files. If you end up needing to run OS 9 software, you can do it on any PowerPC Mac (maybe borrow someone's G4/G5).
posted by k. at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2010

Response by poster: Actually, I don't have a Mac anymore. I am running Windows on a PC... This is partly what makes thing challenging. I don't know for sure if OS X can read off old Mac HDs, but I suspect it could. Alas, I do not have a Mac.
posted by apark at 12:04 PM on April 20, 2010

You'd probably need a SCSI-to-USB cable:
posted by dfriedman at 12:04 PM on April 20, 2010

For emulation your best bet is Sheepshaver.

If you're just trying to get at the files, you'll need something that reads HFS filesystems like MacDrive (costs $50, there might be cheaper alternatives).
posted by ripley_ at 12:12 PM on April 20, 2010

I'm not aware of a PowerPC emulator for x86, but there is a 68K emulator for it called Basilisk. Ironically, some of your PowerPC software may be too new to run on Basilisk, but if you had any old 68K-vintage apps running under emulation, they have a shot at running under Basilisk.
posted by adamrice at 12:12 PM on April 20, 2010

Do you have any friends with Macs? Maybe you could bring the disks to your friend with a SCSI-USB cable, copy the files to the Mac and then burn a DVD.

Are you near an Apple store? If so, go to their genius bar and ask them this question. Doubtless someone in an Apple store will have solved this problem before.

posted by dfriedman at 12:12 PM on April 20, 2010

On postview, I think sheepshaver is a better shot.
posted by adamrice at 12:13 PM on April 20, 2010

Response by poster: @dfriedman: Yes. Though I suppose I could install the old Adaptec card in my current PC, it's probably easier just to get a SCSI-to-USB cable as you suggest. So, what is my answer for the software side of things?
posted by apark at 12:13 PM on April 20, 2010

Oh, sorry I assumed you had a Mac. Your best bet might still be to borrow a Mac to do this.

One of the annoying things about reading Mac files on Windows or Linux is that HFS(+) files have extra data in them that won't survive the transfer to to other filesystems. Mostly this is metadata, but sometimes it includes actual contents, especially in pre-OS X file formats. I know for sure that applications and "clipping"-type files have this problem, but I don't know about others.
posted by k. at 12:24 PM on April 20, 2010

See if there's a Mac User Group in your area. Chances are good that there are people there who can help.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:46 PM on April 20, 2010

Response by poster: @k: Yeah, the infamous resource fork. If I have to pickup some software like MacDrive, hopefully it will handle the whole resource fork/data fork issue... Thanks!
posted by apark at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2010

1. Install MacDrive.
2. Plug SCSI card into PC.
3. Connect hard drive to SCSI card. If necessary, set the terminator jumper on the hard drive.
4. Boot PC and copy files over.
5. Use ConversionsPlus to convert old file formats to newer formats.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Blazecock has it there unless you can find a friend with a Mac.

Alternatively, look for the little driver utility Apple released with Snow Leopard that allows you to open HFS+ drives as read-only. Think it's just a little system service but there was speculation that it would run MacDrive out of business. There are links for it around here and there on the Internets. From what I have seen (using Boot Camp) it works, but others have reported that it's buggy.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:14 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a similar situation recently but without the hardware compatibility issue. The current version of TransMac was way faster in retreiving the files than MacDrive was. I was able to get all of my data moved within the TransMac 15 day free trial period. I had about 100 CD's worth of Mac HFS+ data, so speed was a consideration.
posted by imjustsaying at 1:28 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

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