Video 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 cassette.

Technical background
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 horizontal lines.

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 in the January 1997 issue.

Hard Disk Backup
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 correct.

Floppy Disk Backup
Full Amiga floppy disk backup in only 1 minute. Restore in the same amount of time, even onto an unformatted disk.

Error Correction
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.

User interface
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.

Log Files
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 fool-proof operation!

Visual Header
This title and date header precedes every backup on your videotape to make searching even easier.

Batch Backup
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 directly.

If desired, the software can give an audio signal when the backup(s) are ready.

File Selection
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 shown below:

VBS allows you to customize the following settings:
* Counter type (Numeric/Time).
* Video Connection Check (on/off).
* Use Public screen (on/off).
* Beep after backup (on/off).
* Log file/Report directory.
* Fonts for user interface and Visual Header.
* Screen mode.

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 list."

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."

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Software, hardware and artwork copyright (C) 1996 Lyppens Software Productions. All rights reserved.