Paperback - Joke or Not?
Paperback - Joke or Not?
Written by Alex Denham   
Friday, 17 August 2012

Most of us will have at some point talked about taking a paper copy of important documents, but it’s unlikely you’ve ever considered taking backups onto paper with the expectation of being able to use them on a computer at some point in the future.  Think again - a free application that can do just that.

Oleh Yuschuk developed the application as a joke, but it really works.The program isn't new but it seems to have suddenly been reported on a number of websites - for reasons that are difficult to guess at other than its a really fun idea.




PaperBack is a free application that allows you to back up files on ordinary paper in the form of oversized bitmaps. According to Yuschuk’s website, if you have a good laser printer with 600 dpi resolution, you can save up to 500,000 bytes of uncompressed data on a single A4/Letter sheet. If you use the integrated packer, you can get up to three megabytes of C code per page.

Yuschuk says that while it’s obvious you don’t need to make backups, they do have the advantage of you being instantly able to tell whether the printout looks to be in good condition. He says:

“Of course, bitmaps produced by PaperBack are also human-readable (with the small help of any decent microscope). I'm joking.”  

The way you really ‘restore’ your files is by using a scanner attached to a PC.

The software has been designed to run under Windows, but it's free and open source, and Yuschuk says there’s nothing preventing you from porting PaperBack to Linux or Mac. He also points out you can mail your printouts to the recipients anywhere in the world, even if they have no Internet access.




While Yuschuk designed the software as a joke, it might well have a serious use.

Look back through your older backups; 3.5 inch diskettes, ZIP drives, old CDs that refuse to load because the surface has deteriorated. It all falls apart or the technology becomes obsolete. A stack of paper will probably outlast pretty much all of the current magnetic media, and scanner technology will still be available.

OK, so the capacity is very limited, but the software could have real value for those files you absolutely don’t want to lose. If nothing else, it’s fun and a bit crazy.



More Information

Paperback 1.1

Download PaperBak.exe

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Last Updated ( Friday, 17 August 2012 )

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