Backup System Amiga
The Video Backup System Amiga (VBS) lets you connect a VCR to your
Commodore Amiga computer and turns it into an extremely reliable and affordable
backup device. The package consists of easy-to-use backup software, a hardware
interface and all required cables. This innovative product backs up your hard
disk safely and provides a fantastic alternative to a tape streamer! It also
enables you to store a collection of hundreds of floppy disks on a single video
VBS stores the data on video tape using a black and white video signal.
Each scanline contains a number of data bits, which are represented as short
To deal with potential data losses
because of noise or drop-outs on the video tape, the product relies on a highly
sophisticated software implementation of the Reed-Solomon error-correcting
code. In order to ensure that even a 14MHz Motorola 68020 CPU could handle the
data flow to and from the VCR in real time, I implemented the encoder and
decoder in highly optimized assembly language. This application of coding
theory is the topic of the article Reed-Solomon Error Correction - A fast
software implementation, which I wrote for
Dr. Dobb's Journal. It appeared
January 1997 issue.
The software allows you to select which files and directories to back up. Full
or partial restore to any directory is possible and it is not necessary to
replay the entire backup when only a few files are to be restored. After VBS
has read the directory tree structure from the VCR, it lets you select the
desired files and directories. Then, the tape can be fast forwarded if the
desired files are far away from the beginning.
The 'Verify files' function lets you ensure your backups are
Floppy Disk Backup
Full Amiga floppy disk backup in only 1 minute. Restore in the same amount of
time, even onto an unformatted disk.
VBS uses a powerful error-correction algorithm which compensates for drop-outs
on the video tape. This ensures none of your data is lost.
Speed and Capacity
There are special backup modes for Amigas with an 68020 or higher CPU (A1200,
A2500, A3000, A4000). The first one gives a speed improvement of a factor 2
compared to V1.5, without data compression. The typical thoughput in this case
is 85MB per hour, for a total of 340MB per 4-hour video tape! The
68020-compressed mode adds data compression to this, and is up to 3
times as fast as V1.5 (depending on the compression ratio achieved). With 130MB
per hour, 520MB will fit on a 4-hour tape! On an 68000 Amiga, the throughput is
about 40MB per hour.
VBS 3.0 is fully backward compatible; it can read and write the
slower V1.5 backups without problems.
The VBS 3.0 software is compatible with all Amigas and requires AmigaOS
2.x/3.x. VBS is extremely easy to use and has a powerful, 2.0-look user
interface. You can customize it to a great extent by means of font and screen
mode-requesters. VBS can also run on the Workbench screen.
For compatibility with AmigaOS 1.x, the VBS software V1.5 is included
in the package.
The VBS automatically maintains log files which contain title and counter
position of every backup. The software supports VCRs having either a numeric or
a real-time counter.
Video Connection Check
VBS automatically checks whether the hardware is connected correctly to ensure
This title and date header precedes every backup on your videotape to make
searching even easier.
The Video Backup System lets you define a list of backups to be made to avoid
having to manually make a separate backup for each hard disk partition. With
VBS 3.0, you simply enter the desired partitions in the batch list. VBS will
then successively make separate backups for each one of these partitions. The
batch backup can be programmed to start either at a specific time-of-day or
If desired, the software can give an audio signal when the backup(s)
In file backup and restore, VBS lets you select which files and directories to
process. An illustration of the file selection screen is shown below:
Installation of VBS 3.0 on your hard drive is done using the Commodore
Installer: user friendly and trouble-free.
Packaging and Manual
VBS comes with a well-written, easy to follow manual with a lot of
illustrations and step-by-step explanations. The packaging is in full-color as
VBS allows you to customize the following settings:
Use Public screen
Beep after backup
Fonts for user
interface and Visual Header.
Two versions of VBS are available to cater for different types of connectors on
video recorders: a version with phono plug and a version with a SCART
connector. VBS is compatible with ALL Amigas and VCRs. No memory expansion
required (1MB is sufficient).
Reviews in the Amiga Press:
Amiga Format 4/93: 93%, "Fantastic value, and a
highly desirable buy if you already have a hard drive and a VCR."
Amiga Format 12/94: 92%, "If you own a hard
disk-based Amiga, then VBS 3.0 should be at the top of your Christmas
Amiga Report 410 7/24/96, "LSP's Video Backup
System is about the cheapest way I can think of to reliably back up your hard
drives--and it really does work."
This page and/or my
homepage has been visited
times since 1996.
Software, hardware and artwork copyright (C) 1996
Lyppens Software Productions. All rights reserved.