Data retrieval


Since I own a couple dozen Apple Macintosh computers of various vintages with related software and peripherals, I want to keep putting them to good use by trying to provide a data retrieval service.

Perhaps you have found some old floppies and you want to know what’s on them, or you already know what’s on them but now you have more modern equipment and cannot retrieve that information anymore. Or perhaps it’s a software problem: you stumbled onto a CD-ROM containing documents and files created by old versions of applications under Macintosh System 6 and 7, or Mac OS 8 to 9.2, but don’t own a Mac capable of running the Classic Environment or booting in Mac OS 9 and earlier versions. You’d like to be able to read those files and try exporting them to a readable format.

I could offer my help. At the moment, I have functioning Mac equipment that can handle the following media:

  • 800K and 1.4MB Mac-formatted 3.5″ floppies
  • CD-ROMs
  • Mac-formatted Magneto-optical disks (up to 1.2GB capacity)
  • SyQuest cartridges (only 5.25″ – 44MB, 88MB and 200MB capacity; in other words, the cartridge should look like this one)
  • Iomega ZIP 100 diskettes

I can also try to extract information from the following media:

  • Apple Newton formatted PCMCIA flash cards
  • PC-formatted 5.25″ floppies

I have many old versions of Mac applications (Adobe PageMaker, QuarkXPress, many different word processors, etc.), so in case you’d like me to retrieve old files created in these applications and export them somehow, it’s better if you send me an email explaining the problem in detail, so I can tell you if I have that particular application and if I can proceed.

A note on CD-ROMs — You may say, But CD-ROMs are not old, I can still read them using my current computer or CD/DVD drive. Very true. But have you ever found some recordable CDs (CD-R) or rewritable CDs (CD-RW), perhaps burnt 10-15 years ago, and your current Mac just spits them out and seems to treat them as if they were blank CDs? I have a couple of CD-ROM drives that are 13 years old, plus an Iomega CD-RW drive that is at least 8 years old. In more than one occasion, these old drives have been able to read those CD-ROMs that modern machines deem unreadable. So, it’s worth a shot.


So, once we have an agreement, how do we make this work? I’ll let you know my home address in our email exchange and you’ll mail me your disk(s). I will attempt to retrieve the information in it and send it to you electronically (for small amounts of data) or physically on a CD or DVD (for large amounts of data). You’re welcome to include a blank CD or DVD if you think there’s a lot of data to retrieve; otherwise I’ll charge you an additional expense for buying the media.

Once the data retrieval attempt is carried out — either successfully or unsuccessfully — you can choose to have your old disk(s) back or, if you’re not interested and want to save space, you can leave them to me. I’m always in need of such old media, so that I can keep these vintage Mac and peripherals running. If you want your original media back, you’ll pay return shipping as well.


As you’ll certainly have imagined, it’s impossible for me to give a list of prices. There are simply too many variables involved. Firstly, there are no guarantees I will be able to retrieve the data: old disks can be damaged or otherwise unreadable. Then there may be compromises to accept — for instance, I could be able to retrieve the information only partially, or I could have no other choice than export the data in a format that preserves the content but loses the original formatting. And so on.

So I’ve decided I’ll settle with a donation, largely depending on the customer satisfaction and the importance of the retrieved data. In other words, if I manage to retrieve some documents that have some sentimental value for you, or are otherwise important to you, and you’re glad I could be of help and you want to show your gratitude with a generous donation, be my guest. It would also be polite to make a small donation even if I cannot retrieve anything, because whatever the result, I will have spent some of my time trying to figure things out for you. Anyway, as a general rule, compensation will be discussed privately and it will vary according to the amount and kind of data, and the time and efforts devoted to the retrieval. I think this is the fairest conduct.


I’m trying to help, nothing more nothing less. I cannot offer any kind of guarantee. Again, too many variables involved. Some things to keep in mind:

  • I’m doing this in my free time. Since it’s old information stored on old media, I assume you’re not in a hurry to retrieve it. But if you are, and you want priority, extra fees will be applied.
  • I’m using vintage equipment. In this case, vintage is an endearing euphemism that really means old and unreliable. If you have already sent me some material, and my equipment breaks before being able to do anything for you, I will send your disk(s) back and I will pay shipping costs. But only in this instance.
  • For the purpose of attempting a data retrieval, I will have to look at the information contained in the disk(s) you send me. If you have a problem with that, if you fear I might encounter very sensitive data and very private information you’re not comfortable to share with a stranger, do not send me anything. In any case, rest assured that I will never, under no circumstances, divulge any information retrieved to other parties. If you need formal assurance, I’m ready to sign whatever agreement you want.
  • If the material you send me gets lost in transit, I cannot be held responsible for that. In case I have to send stuff back to you physically, I’ll do my best to properly package such material, I’ll go to the post office and send the package with the method you prefer. I’ll be as careful as possible, but that’s all I can do.
  • I also cannot be held responsible for any data loss. In sending me the physical support you want me to examine to attempt data retrieval, you agree to assume this scenario: that the data is irretrievable unless proven otherwise. If I offer this service, it’s because I know how to use the hardware and the software involved in the retrieval. I really don’t want to put myself through unhappy situations and misunderstandings such as I knew the disk was good when I sent it to you, so if you can’t retrieve my data is because you broke it, you mishandled it, you accidentally wiped it, etc.

Any further questions?

This service is currently in a ‘beta’ stage. I have thought things through but it’s likely I haven’t covered all my bases and I may have left something out. If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to contact me privately (my email address is visible in the sidebar at the top).

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4 thoughts on “Data retrieval

  1. Dear Sir,
    I came to your website via a Google query.
    I have a problem with an “old” Mac… and thought you could help or direct me/
    This is what I have at hand

    PowerBook G4 15″
    Processor type: PowerPC G4 (1.5)
    total processors: 1
    Processor speed: 1.67 GHz
    L2-cache (per processor): 512 KB
    Mem: 1.5 GB
    Bus speed: 167 MHz
    start-up ROM-version: 4.9.6f0
    Serial number: W8547GMESWZ

    This Mac is on Tiger and in such can not sync with an iPod Touch (sec gen)

    I wrote to Mac (Belgium) and they informed I could install Leopard 1.5, BUT that they no longer could provide an original version.

    I wonder if you could help me, because I do not like to download some torrent OS 1.5 ISO…

    Many thanks for your reply


  2. Dear Riccardo,

    Have you found the need to use any hard drive data expanders yet?

    The product name does not come to mind at the moment but I believe there might have been more than one 3rd party extension which would compress and expand your hard drive on the fly in order to use the precious size resource better.

    Unfortunately if you have a hard drive like this without the extension you can’t access the data.

    Have you collected those drivers yet?

    (Email me directly if you wish.)

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