Using the Trakker 250 tape drive with Windows XP.

One of my co-workers gave me a Trakker 250MB tape drive along with some tapes from which he needed to recover some data. He wasn’t having much luck recovering the data, so he turned the task over to me. So began a bumpy journey down memory lane as I found myself trying to make the tape drive work. It didn’t work in Windows XP, even after I set the LPT1 port to work in ECP mode. A search for Windows XP drivers proved futile, so I decided to try hooking up the tape drive to an old computer running Windows ME. That didn’t work.
What finally did the trick was Microsoft Virtual PC. I found some disk images for MS-DOS 6.22 online and created a new virtual machine running MS-DOS. I also found some tape drive software still at HP’s site and installed that in my virtual machine. After enabling the LPT1 port on the virtual machine, I was finally able to bring the tape drive to life and begin reading the data off the tapes. It takes just over 3 hours to recover the data from one 250MB tape, so be prepared to do some waiting.
When it comes to getting your old equipment to work, it’s a waste of time trying to find updated drivers to get it to work with the latest version of Windows. Instead, it helps to approach it from the operating system for which the equipment was designed. That’s when tools like Virtual PC really come in handy.

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