This is probably a stupid question, but I am struggling to understand how to 'use' TOSEC.

For those that are unfamiliar with TOSEC (and assuming I understand it correctly) the project aims to catalog old images, roms, doc files, etc. by using a standard naming convention (and I assume some sort of checkum/hash). They periodically publish 'DAT' files with their latest (contributed) work. They do not provide the roms or the images - but instead try to bring order to the chaos.

This (on the surface) sounds like a reasonable goal but their site doesn't really explain (as far as I can tell) how to actually do anything useful with the TOSEC dat files.

There are only 4 tools listed in their download section. One seems to deal exclusively with Amiga ADF files, two are specifically called out as 'old and obsolete don't use em'. Leaving one tool called the TOSEC Dat Explorer (which sounds promising) except there is no download link provided.

I am sure I am missing something. Do I actually understand the purpose of TOSEC? and if so, how is it used?

Full Disclosure: I have not (yet) downloaded the 'dat' archive or any obsolete tools or done any experimenting. So I will apologize in advance if the answer to my question would have been obvious if only I had done some legwork...


The main point of the TOSEC files is to facilitate preservation work. Each TOSEC file lists software artifacts, of various kinds — disk images, raw Kryoflux flux dumps, etc., with their hashes. They are human-readable XML files. These can be used in two main ways:

  • to organise a collection of files, in particular to rename them following the TOSEC nomenclature; tools such as RomVault can help with this;
  • to identify un-preserved artifacts, i.e. if you image a disk, and see that it doesn’t match anything in TOSEC, either your disk is bad, or it hasn’t been preserved yet (in TOSEC).

Using the TOSEC files in this way doesn’t involve distributing the preserved files themselves. (TOSEC dumps are available from other sources...)

There are related efforts such as the Total DOS Collection (see also MobyGamer’s total DOS launcher), and any such collection of hashes can be useful in other contexts (such as the game data packager).

  • This was very helpful, especially the link to RomVault. After watching a bit of the 'How to use RomVault' YouTube video things are making a lot more sense. :-) – Geo... May 15 at 15:32

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