Data restoration takes Aussies on long trek

Reformatting under way

Deteriorating magnetic reel tapes - 3000 of them - took SpectrumData, a Western Australia data recovery and storage company to the petrol-rich Ogaden Basin in Ethiopia.

More than one million files, mainly on 30-year old Russian tapes, were loaded onto disks and digitally photographed by a team using SpectrumData tape recovery software.

The internationally experienced team took a week to prepare, a spokesperson said. A facility was created in Perth, which was then dismantled and shipped to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Once the copies of the data were made, the team flew back to Perth, where they are reformatting the archaic information.

SpectrumData inked a four-year contract with the Ethiopian government that ensures they can sell the data to third parties.

The tapes hold information that cover 5000 linear kilometres of seismic data, which is expected to be of interest to international oil and gas companies, particularly those keen to increase research in the area.

A SpectrumData spokesperson said high oil prices are driving competition for the data which has about about 11 companies are vying for it.

Spectrum Data CEO, Guy Holmes, said the data is being held in a tape storage room that has one window and an air conditioner.

The tapes are open reel, meaning they are unprotected from the elements, so no 'Clean Room' was necessary for this particular operation.

However, SpectrumData recently installed a Class 100 Clean Room in its Perth building at a cost of $250,000.

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