QIC tape data recovery
Decrypting Sytos DC6525 Data Cartridges
A customer sent us a mixture of 60Mb and 150Mb QIC DC6525 tapes in CPIO, SYTOS and QTOS formats.  They were legacy tapes and although the user knew what information was stored on them, they could not give us any indication of the backup format or drives that wrote the tapes.  Given that the tapes are hardware specific and the QTOS backup was compressed, this was a testing conversion. 
To compund the issues we were already facing, there were numerous read errors scattered across the tapes and the SYTOS tapes versions 3.11 and earlier, were encrypted and oddly encoded.  Looking at the block headers, we could see that some of the tapes were also STAC compressed. SYTOS tape operating system version 3.11 was discontinued in 1990.   
With regards the Sytos Plus backup, quite a lot of work was required to get the files extracted and overcome the read errors. Getting the original software to process these tapes was not possible. We found that SytosPlus was very difficult to work with.  Hence, to extract the files we wrote a utility. Once extracted, we addressed the encryption. SYTOS encrypts the headers using a table look-up, which took days to decipher. For each character, we reverse engineered the code to interpret the files.  

Although the project took a number of weeks to overcome the complications, restoring the data thereafter was very quick and we were able to FTP all the data to the client with no data loss whatsoever.   
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