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Next: Acknowledgments

Tape Archiving Using the Time Capsule File System

Brian K. Zuzga

Submitted to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degrees of

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering


Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

June 1995

Copyright Brian K. Zuzga, MCMXCV. All Rights Reserved.

The author hereby grants to MIT permission to reproduce and to distribute copies of this thesis document in whole or in part, and to grant others the right to do so.


MIT has been generating data on digital media in significant quantities since the 1960's. The rate at which new bits are produced is steadily increasing, and the knowledge needed to decipher the old bits is vanishing. All of our older media are beginning to deteriorate, and valuable data is being lost every day. The Time Capsule File System (TCFS) project was developed to address the problem of preserving this information, for use now and in the future.

Specifically, TCFS is intended to be a single universal format to which we can migrate all our old files, thus simplifying the problem of dealing with a myriad specialized formats. TCFS is also designed to be simple enough to re-engineer without any previous understanding of it, which reduces the risk that data will become ``stranded''.

Using TCFS, Dr. Alan Bawden and I developed a framework using TCFS to preserve our archives in a durable and easy to use fashion. Pandora Berman and I showed this framework to be viable by using it to rescue data from backup tapes written on the Incompatible Timeshare System (ITS). To this end, I developed specialized tools to translate the data from these tapes into the more general TCFS format. Simultaneously, I developed other tools to categorize, index, and search the large set of TCFS archives that were created.