MacMedics saves data off dead Mac IIci and upgrades client to PowerMac 5200/120

MacMedics Locations in Severna Park & Lanham

MacMedics saves data off dead Mac IIci and upgrades client to PowerMac 5200/120.
Now there’s something you don’t hear everyday or at least not since 1997. Funny thing is, we did that all today in just a few hours here in our Mac Lab in Millersville, Maryland.
Normally we spend our days in the field and in the lab supporting and servicing Macs with either Tiger or Leopard on them. Every so often an older version of the Apple OS like Panther or Jaguar shows up, but that’s becoming more and more infrequent as we get ready for Snow Leopard. We do still work on OS 9 from time to time, but that too is slowing down. We got a call from a testing laboratory a few days ago, and they apparently have a few OS 9 Macs that they use to run some scientific testing equipment. We told them that we could most likely replace anything that needed fixing. We have a pretty good supply of old Macs that we like to keep around for data recovery and testing. I did also help Johns Hopkins with some old Apple gear hooked up to some special equipment for data collection at The Wilmer Eye Institute like 10 years ago.
G3 iMacs are still in pretty good supply, so we provide those to clients that need to stick to some old and outdated application that won’t work on anything newer. It always seems to be genealogy software, I don’t know why.
Today a client drove two hours to see us with his Macintosh IIci. He thought his monitor was going bad, but that turned out not to be the case. His Mac’s logic board was dying, and putting strange patterns on the display. Turns out, he too had old software that he HAD to have running in System 7.0.1 and the software was never upgraded from the version he had. We first backed up his data by putting his hard drive into one of our museum’s Macintosh IIsi computers (We have one with all original boxes, manuals, and software w/ the Apple M0401 RGB monitor.) We moved the data over to an old stand by SCSI hard drive that we keep around for booting machines that need a kick start from System 7. I think the drive might be 150 megs in size (we’ve sure come a long way in that department!).
We ended up giving the client two choices:
1. We could put his hard drive into one of our IIsi’s and send him on his way.
2. We could upgrade him to a PowerMac 5200 running System 7.5.5.
He picked the PowerMac, so after installing a new clock battery from, on the 5200’s logic board (that’s a Rayovac 4.5 volt for those keeping track), we moved his data over, and made sure all of his programs would work. We had to also copy some fonts over to ensure he could print labels out of Mac Write. He also asked us to look for his copy of After Dark (famous old time screen saver), but it was no longer there. The last firm that had worked on the Mac IIci had erased it. We had an original copy of After Dark (on floppy no less) somewhere, but we could not lay our hands on that quickly enough to install it, while he waited for the unit to be be complete. We were able to complete the unusual data back up and upgrade to the new PowerMac in less than 2 hours. I guess keeping that old stuff around pays off every so often!
We have his data on our back up drive (he has no back up of it), and we’re going to find a way to get it on the network somehow, so we can burn it to a CD-ROM and send it to him. Here’s a tip: Don’t wait 20 years to make a back up. He had 2.2 megs of data to back up, so he really needs a Zip drive or something. I think we might have an extra one hanging around somewhere. You are REALLY pushing your luck by running a hard drive for 20 years with no back up! MacMedics recommends hard drive early retirement after 3 years in a desktop and after 2 years in a laptop. See our website for more info on this topic!
Thanks to for blogging about this post!
Update 7/1/09 Here’s what our client had to say after the service we performed for him:
Thank you for the efficient, courteous and brilliant solution to our problem! I found it remarkable watching you dip back into your memory for a 15 year old solution. As a Burroughs/Unisys retiree, I can appreciate even more what you (and your staff) did to accommodate us.
We know you could have charged us more. Not only did you not but you also offered to create a CD duplicating our data . . . above and beyond. Therefore, as a thank-you gift, we just ordered 4 cases (48 cans) of mixed-flavor, healthy, no-sugar-no-carb XS energy drinks to be delivered to you. Good for business in that they’ll keep your staff safely alert and sharp, even late in the day.

We get little thank you notes, coffee, Starbucks gift cards, and other tokens of our client’s appreciation for a job well done every so often. I’ve even received tips in cash. I always try to refuse them, but clients either stuff it in my shirt pocket or hide it in my computer/tool bag for me to find several weeks later when I dig deep for the USB hard drive power cable or that iPod plastic pry tool that went all the way to the bottom of the bag. I don’t think we’ve ever been given 48 cans of energy drinks. I guess that will perk things up here in the office, not that it’s ever dull in here!
Enjoy the video I shot on my new iPhone 3G S of the situation. Long live BEIGE or not.

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