Before getting into how to recover data, I want to introduce this guide with my story explaining what happened.
 This should serve as a warning, beca

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Before getting into how to recover data, I want to introduce this guide with my story explaining what happened. This should serve as a warning, because learning from my mistakes will prevent you from making your recovery process harder. This took place over the span of months, and many details and side-tangents have been omitted for clarity.

I received a tape containing the "end of project" development for Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge, part of my favorite childhood franchise. This tape is believed to be the only backup of the final game source code, game assets, and other development data. As one could imagine, this is priceless to recover. But how does one even read/write data from a tape? Why did they even use tapes? The average hard drive size in 1999/2000 seems to have been around 10GB, and hard drives are not known for their longevity. OnStream tapes were a very appealing proposition because they could offer 50GB cartridges (25GB when uncompressed), which were cheaper than most hard drives! Tapes are great for backups and have very high longevity when stored properly. And they could buy a tape drive that they could put into their computer just like a CD or floppy disk drive. Unfortunately, while tapes have good longevity, these tape drives did not. OnStream, the company who made the tapes and tape drives, ceased operations in 2003, after only just releasing their first drive in 1999. These drives are uncommon, especially the model which can use 50GB tapes. So, the first big hurdle was finding a compatible tape drive.

I was lucky to know that I needed an "OnStream SC-50" tape drive, because that was the model written on the label of the tape. And, I found one single business selling this drive online, so I pounced. Unfortunately, no matter what I did, when I put the tape into the drive, it would appear to read, then eject automatically. I tried different operating systems, different software versions, different sofware, different drivers, etc. Nothing worked. Eventually, I concluded the drive was broken, and looking inside proved this to be true, as the rubber pinch roller had melted. My efforts to fix the drive were let's say unsuccessful, so I looked for another drive. Because there were no other options, I got an ADR-50e. That drive was advertised as compatible with these tapes. When that drive worked with my "test tape" (a blank tape I had purchased exclusively for testing), but still refused to read the Frogger tape. At this point, I incorrectly concluded that there must have been a problem with the tape itself and it were damaged. What had actually happened was that the ADR-50e drive was advertised as compatible, but there was a cave-at. It was only compatible with tapes which were written with an ADR-50e drive, or tapes written with certain software. At this point, I didn't even know what software had been used to write the data, let alone this obscure quirk of the tape drive, it was advertised as compatible after all. So assuming the tape was defective, I sent it in to a professional data recovery company, believing it to be damaged. This was a HUGE mistake...

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