In praise of Quick View Plus

I just wanted to sing the praises of a great little bit of software that we have been using here to help us recover old files.

Quick View Plus is a simple tool for viewing lots of different file formats. As we have been working through boxes of old floppy disks we have found many files that we can read in modern software that we have installed on our PCs (old versions of Word Perfect for example) but many more that we can not view. Rather than purchasing and installing lots of different bits of software to read all of our obsolete Paradox databases and Microsoft Works spreadsheets from the 1990's it has proved to be far more efficient just to purchase a single copy of Quick View Plus Standard Edition. This software allows you to view the contents of over 300 different file formats (often with many different versions of each format) and is a really useful tool for anyone who needs to view or extract content from a wide range of file formats. Though it is purely a tool for viewing files (rather than migrating files), it does allow the contents of the files to be copied and then pasted into a different application.

Of one of the boxes of floppy disks from the office we had been looking at as part of our digital rescue warm-up mission, it was decided that about 300 files were worthy of rescue. The range of formats of these files (dating from between 1990 and 2004) are shown in the graph below.

File identification was carried out using Droid from the National Archives (another great little tool!). The files listed as 'Not recognised' included File Maker Pro and others with a qic extension which appeared to be some sort of backup file. We have shared some of these unrecognised formats with the Droid and Pronom team so that they can incorporate them into future versions where appropriate.

Anyway, the good news is that Quick View Plus was successful at viewing pretty much all of the files that we needed to rescue and once viewed they could be copied and saved into a modern MS Office format suitable for current staff to view and use. The next step is to find appropriate homes for the material we have rescued. What we do not want to do is copy them back on to a different sort of portable media that will become obsolete or corrupt again in another 20 years time!

Jenny Mitcham, Digital Archivist


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