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Old Floppy Disks Won't Read

Discussion in 'PC Hardware' started by Matt, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. Matt

    Matt Guest

    I have 20 old floppy disks I need to access. They are high-density
    disks. They were bought pre-formatted, and the files were saved with
    Windows 95 (can't remember if it was OEM or version b) circa 1995-98.

    I am now trying to access them using a PC running Windows XP Pro SP2.
    But I get: "The disk in drive A is not formatted. Would you like to
    format it now?"

    I have done some research and I think the problem has to do with the
    MBR of the floppies, which are somehow different or nonexistant so
    Windows XP can't read them. I found a Microsoft document (KB 140060)
    describing this problem and as a workaround says to use DiskProbe to
    edit or change the BIOS parameter block (BPB) of the boot sector. I
    have DiskProbe but am scared to use it, fearing I will permanently mess
    up the floppies.

    I have also tried accessing the floppies from three other PCs (all
    Compaqs circa 1996) - one running Windows 95b, one running Windows
    98se, and one running Windows 2000.

    Has anyone had a similar experience and found an easier solution?

    Sorry if this is old news, and thanks for any help.
     
    Matt, Apr 8, 2005
    #1
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  2. Matt

    Bob Eager Guest

    If they were preformatted, they are more likely to have gone bad, IME.
    Presumably you mean the boot sector. Floppies don't have an MBR, as
    such.
    Can't see why that would be so.
    If they're bad, they're bad.

    The best way to proceed is to see if they are readable at all. Find an
    old machine with DOS on it, and see if it'll read them. If not, they're
    bad. If it can, either use INTERLNK or something to transfer the
    contents, or proceed with other suggested solutions.
     
    Bob Eager, Apr 8, 2005
    #2
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  3. Matt

    Matt Guest

    Thanks Bob! How/why do 20 floppy disks (that have been in a nice
    protected case together all this time) 'go bad'?

    I'll try accessing them from the Windows 95 PC via DOS - any specific
    version of DOS you think I should need?

    I've never heard of Interlnk - i'll check it out.
     
    Matt, Apr 8, 2005
    #3
  4. Matt

    Bob Eager Guest

    Because the material slowly demagnetises....heat can accelerate this,
    but just time is enough, and that's a *long* time. Pre-formatted
    diskettes are often weakly formatted so the formatting fades more
    quickly - I never trust preformatting and always re-do it.
    Any version from 3.3 onwards...possibly 3.2. But if you get 5 or 6, then
    it'll come with...
    Interlnk. Basically quite a nice program for transferring files using
    serial ports. Ideal in this kind of scenario as it takes less than 5
    minutes to set up.
     
    Bob Eager, Apr 8, 2005
    #4
  5. Matt

    Matt Guest

    I didn't know disks degraded like that, or that formatting can make
    such a difference. Excellent info, thanks again!

    -Matt
     
    Matt, Apr 8, 2005
    #5
  6. If the Data is worth the trouble, SPINRITE, a commercial program, from
    www.grc.com is a Drive testing and data recovery program which also works on
    floppies. It keeps rereading the drive until it can reconstruct the data.
    Mike.
     
    Michael Hawes, Apr 8, 2005
    #6
  7. Matt

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    At the DOS prompt on a Win95 system type "help interlnk". You should
    see an explanation of the command and a layout for the null modem
    cable. If not, then you may need to copy the relevant files from the
    Oldmsdos directory of your Win95 CD to the \Windows\Command directory
    on your HD.


    - Franc Zabkar
     
    Franc Zabkar, Apr 9, 2005
    #7
  8. Matt

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    I have seen mould destroy diskettes. You can check for this by sliding
    back the metal door and rotating the disc by turning the hub. You can
    also see any circular scratches caused by dirty heads.
    I think this is the MSKB article:
    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;140060

    You can read and write the floppy boot sector using the DOS debug
    command that ships with Win9x.

    debug
    -L 100 0 0 1 <-- loads sector 0 of drive 0 (0=A, 1=B) into memory
    -d 100 2ff <-- dumps the boot sector to screen
    -d 115 115 <-- displays the media descriptor byte (f0 for 1.44MB)

    -e 115 <-- changes the media descriptor byte from 00 to F0
    12EF:0115 00.F0
    -w 100 0 0 1 <-- writes the modified boot sector
    -q <-- quits debug

    - Franc Zabkar
     
    Franc Zabkar, Apr 9, 2005
    #8
  9. Matt

    James Guest

    If the data on them was *important* to you, it should have been secured
    long ago on something more reliable like CDR.

    Floppy disks are unreliable at best. I can remember many instances when
    they let me down.

    Chances are your floppies will never be readable again....

    I pretty much dumped floppy disks as storage media in 1995 when I moved to
    CDR. The first CDR I wrote in 1995 (1x by the way, it took 1hour 20
    minutes to write 600mb to it!) and is still readable today with no problems.
    I made a point of dating the disc and keeping it safe, just to see what life
    a CDR's data had. Ten years and still going strong.

    Something I learned a long time ago... >>> NEVER trust a floppy disk <<<
     
    James, Apr 10, 2005
    #9
  10. Hello,

    Maybe your drive is broken... You can search for spare parts on this
    website www.ultratec.co.uk you can also order online of talk to
    someone live online!

    tyhnx

    val
     
    Data Recovery, Apr 11, 2005
    #10
  11. Matt

    Charlie+ Guest

    underneath my scribble :

    The recommendations by others to a DOS system and to Spinrite (use
    version 5 which works straight from a bootable floppy) are good.
    However the very first thing I would do would be to try other floppy
    drive(s) as the most likely reason you see nothing is that your drive
    is misaligned to the original formatting and floppy drives are dumb in
    alignment - ie. there is no self correction loop for this problem.
    Floppies should be fine even recorded in the 1980s as long as not
    stored wildly hot or near magnetic fields (speakers etc).
    NB. Most people blindly used floppies but never checked immediately
    after recording that they were readable and error free, a very basic
    error which continues unabated into todays CD/DVD data era!
    Charlie+
    SNIP
     
    Charlie+, Apr 11, 2005
    #11
  12. Matt

    Arno Wagner Guest

    And one that the only reliable long-term storage medium that
    individuals can afford does not make by design: MOD does a verify
    of every write in the drive and reallocates defective sectors on
    write. That way the drive can also use a read mode more sensitive
    to errors than a software-verify can use.

    Even modern HDDs do that only on reads (i.e. never or much
    later in the worst case). DVD-RAM does it only if the cartridge
    is removed and then only in the driver AFAIK.

    Arno
     
    Arno Wagner, Apr 11, 2005
    #12
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