It is when I retrieved a number of diskettes (3.5inch / 5.25inch / iomzga zip…) that a deep feeling of frustration and sorrow took over my mind!
Yes, no recent PC (nor Mac) has that old-style floppy drives! They often even lack a CD/DVD drive!
Well, no problem, I thought. I have a floppy drive somewhere… just fix it into a mainboard and that is it… right?
Recent (relatively recent) mainboards have no more connector to which you can attach such oldies!
Well, let us find another solution. Oh.. Yes, look, some people are selling USB 3.5 floppy drives on Amazon… great!
It is even quite affordable (for less than $15 you can purchase one)… just a matter of patience for a few days before delivery.
Great! It is here!
Let us connect that to a USB port and start extracting all the old data to our new SSD world!
Do you know how much time that needed?
1 minute to connect the floppy drive to the USB port
Less than 1 minute for the OS to recognize the drive
And here is the first floppy diskette… OOKey… the OS is now reading…
After more than 2 minutes, here is the OS saying:
A:\ is not accessible.
The device is not ready.
Disk is not formatted
The disk in drive A is not formatted.
Do you want to format it now?
To make a long story short: our old-style floppy diskettes cannot be read by (any) modern OS. Even when the floppy has no real damage.
gives an answer… however frustrating!
A summary of the page:
This problem occurs on disks that do not contain a media descriptor byte in the BIOS parameter block (BPB) of the boot sector. Some older preformatted floppy disks do not contain a media descriptor byte. Older product disks may also not have the media descriptor byte.
The proposed solution on this same page is to edit the diskette sectors using (very special) physical sector editors . (Please do not do this… I tried, and got several floppy out of use!)
The real world solution
To read your old floppies, you need old equipment, old OS and, of course, some patience.
To extract data from your DOS, Win3.1, Win95, 98… and the like, you need hardware that accepts connecting the necessary floppy drives (not all mainboards can) and you need to install your old OS to extract out the data from the floppies.
By that time, you, again face a new frustration!
A 3.5inch diskette contains between 720KB and up to 1.44MB of data (for the so-called ‘high density’:)). Similarly, 5.25inch diskettes can store up to 1.2MB of data.
That is not much compared to our era where we often talk about Gigabytes!
When you succeed extracting your meagre megabytes of files, you face another problem: most of the files are either compressed backups or old database files (remember dBase-III? :))
Even MS Access 2.0 files are not directly readable by the more recent MS Office apps!
Well, after some months of hard labor… we now have a LAB with almost all what can be needed to decipher such old-style data stored on old-style floppy drives!
Unless you particularly love such annoying challenges, Do not do it yourself…
- Contact us (email@example.com) with a description of your subject and goals
- Send us your diskettes and tell us the most convenient media or upload destination for sending or transmitting the deciphered data back to you
We will quickly examine the media and give a report about:
- The physical status of your floppies
- What we can do and how much will it cost
- If you do not agree to our proposal, you are free to call back your media
- Othewise: we execute your order
- Once your paiement received, the extracted data is sent to the location of your choice with and original media