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What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

 
Rollin K. Grossholz
Occasional Visitor

What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

We have a MicroVAX 3100-20e with no backup device. It is running VMS V5.5-2. Upgrading the OS is not an option.

I need to develop a backup solution as this unit is beginning to make strange noises.

I have looked around the plant for any spare external unused Digital VAX style of tape backup devices. I located one TK50, but the power supply is shot. I have several "Winchester Systems" FlashDAT 4mm drives but cannot seem to get them to be recognized by a VAX. (I believe the FlashDAT was used at one time, however all the VAXes using that option have been decommisioned.
Therefore I cannot boot one to determine the configuration or system files required.)

Now I am exploring other options. Management has agreed to purchase a backup device for the MicroVAX 3100. I have been looking online for solutions and in the HP IT Resource Center for suggestions for two days and do not seem to be able to locate what I need.

I have two broad questions.

1) What devices are available, used or new, that can be connected to a MicroVAX and accessed via VMS V5.5-2?
I know about the TK50. Not many available online.
I know about the TK70. Again, not many available online. What connection method is used for the TK70? SCSI, SCSI 2, or what?
Other devices?
Remember, the MicroVAX 3100 has a SCSI 1 connection. So if an adapter is required, do you have a suggestion?

2) Are there any network options?
The MicroVAX is connected to the network via TCPWare. DECNet is also running.
I know disks can be backed up across the network, but how can they be restored?

A little info about me. I worked as a VMS Admin from 1983 until 2006. I actually did very little with the hardware other than following step-by-step instruction from Digital Support. So even though I am remembering alot about VMS, please do not assume I know much about hardware. By the way, hardware manuals are few and hard to locate where I am currently working.

I would appreciate any suggestions or ideas.
16 REPLIES 16
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

> [...] strange noises.

Disks, fans, rodents, ...?

> [...] backup solution [...]

Knowing what you're trying to back up might
help progress toward more useful answers.
Hardware inventory? Goals? (Archive,
disaster recovery, ...?)

I would absolutely avoid TK50, and I'd try to
avoid TK70. I don't have any V5.5-2 info at
hand, but I'd expect some newer-than-TK70 DLT
drives to be supported. I'd expect
HELP INITIALIZE /DENSITY
to offer some hints (but perhaps not at
V5.5-2). An old VMS SPD would be the
official info source.

> What connection method [...]

There was a Q-bus interface card ("TQK70"?)
for the TK70. There may have been DSSI
and/or SCSI versions of the TK70, too.
There certainly was a SCSI TK50, the
TK50Z-GA, for example.

Aside from the low speed, a TK50 holds only
95MB, and it's hard to find the tapes
nowadays. TK70 (faster, 296MB) is not much
better on any front. Everything's better
with a newer DLT (if VMS V5.5-2 can use one).

You should also be able to attach an
external SCSI disk (or several). (Or
internal, if there's room.) BACKUP to a disk
should be _much_ faster than to any tape.

> Remember, the MicroVAX 3100 has a SCSI 1
> connection. So if an adapter is required,
> do you have a suggestion?

I suggest not worrying about how many SCSIs.
Any newer device should be able to slow down
to deal with the VAX's SCSI port. I've had
no trouble using modern disks on old VAXes.

> 2) Are there any network options?
> [...] but how can they be restored?

Aye, there's the rub. A local disk or tape
device has some big advantages over any
network thing when the system disk fails.
Robert Gezelter
Honored Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

Rollin,

I would agree that tape is not a good solution in this context.

I would be inclined to add a disk drive and do a disk to disk image backup. Depending upon the configuration, it may be possible to add the disk to the main system housing without requiring an external box.

Over time, what I have done for systems of this type is establish a baseline system on disk (or bootable CDROM). I then do regular backups by creating a BACKUP saveset, then using ZIP to reduce the size.Once the file has been zipped, I send it to a machine (not necessarily OpenVMS) with an appropriate writer.

What other systems are on the network at this site?

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

Regarding disk drives v. VMS V5.5-2, as I
recall, VMS pre-V6 had an 8GB limit on disk
size, so, fifteen years later, even in the
old-junk category, you need to take a little
care not to get a drive which is too good
for the software. I don't remember if I ever
used anything larger than about 4GB in my
oldest junk, but I'd guess that a 9GBm
(GBm = "gigabyte, marketing") drive would
still be small enough.

Is this one of the systems which had the 1GB
limit on the size of the system disk? This
wouldn't affect a back-up disk, but if the
old system disk is going bad, this limitation
can make shopping for a replacement more
difficult. (Buy 'em before they're all
gone, I always say.)
Rollin K. Grossholz
Occasional Visitor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

Steven and Robert,

Thank you for responding.

The "strange noises" sounds to me like a disk drive or fan going bad. Either way, I need a solution.

The disks contain information from scanners in a warehouse. Without the system, everything has to be keyed. Very time consumming.

I agree the TK50/TK70 solution is not the best. But in the short run, it might have to do. Management does not want to spend much on this issue. That is why I asked the connection question. I want to purchase a solution that will not require much, if any, trial-and-error.

The long-term solution is to use the internal network. We have Unix servers, Bull mainframes, Windows servers, and VAXes. All on the internal network. We also have an Itainum running OpenVMS 8.x. I do not have much access to that because it is in the test lab.

I have only been here 7 weeks. So I am not sure what is available or even what is going on in the different data centers.

I appreciate your reponses. The information you provided will help decide which course of action is best.

Rollin
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

> I want to purchase a solution that will not
> require much, if any, trial-and-error.

It's hard to make confident suggestions with
so little info on the current hardware.

> Management does not want to spend much
> [...]

Your budget is probably bigger than mine. I
tend to get junk on Ebay, where, I'd guess,
a decent newish 9GB disk drive, box, and
cable might run as high as, say, $50-$100
(depending on what that external SCSI
connector is). Less for only the drive, if
there's room in the computer for it. (In
recent weeks, I've found "new" 36GB drives
for well under $50, but I haven't looked for
anything smaller in years, so I don't know
what's out there.) A low-end, external,
used DLT drive (4000, 7000?) might be in
that same range. And, incredible bargains
(what I usually seek) are not unusual.

> [...] TK50/TK70 solution [...] might have
> to do.

Have you a supply of those out-of-production
tapes already? Tried to buy any lately?
"New" DLT III and IV are pretty common (and
cheap) on Ebay. (I don't know about normal
retail sources.) (How much time would you
like to spend waiting for what may be the
slowest tape drive on the planet to do some
useful work? The TK50 was a marvel in 1986,
when a 159MB disk drive was a true luxury,
but the most amazing thing about it now would
be anyone still using it.)

> The long-term solution is to use the
> internal network.

Well, knowing near-nothing, I'd vote for
adding at least one local disk or tape. I'd
want to have some easy way to recover the
system disk, and BACKUP /IMAGE (Standalone,
ideally) to a local disk or tape would do
that. Having a spare system disk on the
shelf would be good, too.

For user data, BACKUP and/or Zip and FTP to
some other system (which has real back-ups)
would probably be plenty good. (So far as I
can judge from here.)

On the bright side, the latest Zip+UnZip
software should work fine on VMS as far back
as V5.4.
Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

Here, a BA353 or BA356 shelf and some similar-vintage (old) StorageWorks disks would be a reasonable choice. There are other and better choices, certainly.

Disk hardware options:
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/54
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/12

Some of the Manuals:
http://vt100.net/manx/search?cp=1&q=microvax+3100

VAX Emulation
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/70
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/922

It's typically feasible to connect SCSI-2 or later onto SCSI-1 host connection; there are some cabling and enclosure considerations here, but SCSI generally won't encounter hardware damage if something is misconnected.

This is basically shaping up like a top-to-bottom review of the current configuration and the environment and the requirements and the plans. That usually involves some more direct discussion; it's really tough to do this stuff in the forums.

Andy Bustamante
Honored Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

This hardware is getting extremely dated. Yes you can probably manage to keep it running. Another option to consider is using the Charon VAX product and migrating to an emulated server. There are resellers on the forum a search for Charon VAX will pull up names.

Andy
If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? Reach me at first_name + "." + last_name at sysmanager net
Brad McCusker
Respected Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

You've got some good suggestions for what I consider temporary solutions.

As I read this thread, my thought went to what Hoff already suggested: Emulation. Get rid of the old hardware - replace with new, keep the software exactly as it is. then use a backup device on the new platform.

Shameless plug: My company, SCI, (and others on this board) is a Charon VAX/AXP reseller in the US.

Brad McCusker
Software Concepts International
www.sciinc.com
Brad McCusker
Software Concepts International
Robert Gezelter
Honored Contributor

Re: What are the backup options for a MicroVAX 3100-20e?

Rollin,

In terms of expediency, I would first check the configuration of the present system. Specifically, which disks are installed and how many of them are installed (SHOW DEVICE D*/FULL command).

It has been a long day, so at this instant I will observe that the manuals can be found at several archive sites on the Internet. If memory serves correctly, the 3100-20e had multiple drive positions (I have several in-house, but they are not near me at this instant).

If you have a single drive system, then locating a second drive and installing it is relatively straightforward operation. At that point, a full backup of the system disk can be made using BACKUP/IMAGE. For safety (before touching the hardware), I would do a BACKUP/IMAGE over the network to one of the other VMS machines. Writing a BACKUP saveset to a networked VMS system does not require any special privileges on the remote system, merely sufficient disk space and the NETMBX and TMPMBX privileges.

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com