Three different techniques that might let you recover old Win9x — and even DOS! — backups.
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Opening ancient .qic-format Windows backups
Al Cosh wants to retrieve files archived nearly 20 years ago.
- “I enjoyed your [June 13 Best Practices article], ‘Total access to all your Windows backups.’ But you didn’t go back far enough. I need to access some old files from a Window 95 .qic backup CD. Help!”
Al, it’s time to crank up the Wayback Machine. The .qic format actually dates to DOS days! It’s an ancient cassette-tape backup standard originally developed by 3M (Wikipedia info) in 1972.
There were many revisions to the QIC standard; Version QIC-113 introduced Host Interchange Protocol, which allowed .qic backups to work on a variety of systems and media. For example, Microsoft added QIC-113 support to its msbackup.exe backup tools, included in DOS 6.2 and Win9x.
Today, QIC is thoroughly obsolete. I can suggest only three ways to recover .qic-based backup files on current Windows systems. (I know it’s hard to believe, but I don’t have old .qic files to experiment with. So I’m providing this information without having personally tested it.)
Technique 1: The by-the-book method
- Locate a copy of an ancient, .qic-compatible backup program, such as Microsoft’s msbackup.exe or Roxio’s long-discontinued Backup MyPC. You might have such a program on your old setup CDs or other media, or you might be able to find a copy online.
- Install whatever .qic-compatible software you can find on your current Windows version; use Windows’ compatibility settings, Win7’s compatibility mode, or a virtual PC running an old Windows version — or any other method that will get the old software running.
- Recover your old files.
Technique 2: Use a specialized data-recovery tool
- Programmer William Kranz, who describes himself as having “a perverse interest in obsolete computers,” has written custom data-recovery utilities that can handle .qic and .bkf format backups. His tools are available on the “Win9x & XP & NT MSBackUp File Format and Data Recovery” page of his WillsWorks.net website.
Like Microsoft’s DOS-based backup tools, Will’s recovery apps are command-line driven; they’re designed for other programmers and IT pros, which makes them unsuitable for most novices. But he’s posted how-to instructions and other support info. Will’s tools are free, but support is limited to the documentation on his site.
Technique 3: Hire a professional data-recovery company
- Many data-recovery companies maintain collections of old hardware and software exactly for this purpose — to recover data stored in obsolete formats. Such recovery will cost you, of course, depending on how much data you need recovered, how obscure or obsolete the storage format is, and whether all the data is undamaged and easily readable.