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Disks getting ruined again - AT this time

offensive_Jerk

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So I had an issue a while back with my PCJr I got off someone. Was working fine, then certain disks would stop working. Looking at the disk, there would be a ring carved into it. I bought a new drive out of fear it would ruin more disks.

I haven't touched any of those disks since. Recently after getting my AT, I started imaging some more of those early IBM era disks (thanks to mbrutman's excellent program) like the PCJR demo disk, etc. Now after trying to read those, my AT no longer reads disks in the 1.2MB Drive or the 360K drive.

And I determined that the 1.2MB drive is wrecking disks now. I tried formatting a disk a few times, and the ring carved in the disk got bigger and bigger.

Is there something with those disks that is doing this, or how they were stored or something? The AT seemed to read disks pretty decently until this. The 360k drive would be a little sketchy at first.

I ran a cleaner disk in both AT drives and still getting a gouge. I ruined a couple blank 1.2MB disks and a few commercial game disks.

What should I do, rub the disk heads with a qtip and alcohol?
 

Chuck(G)

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No, as floppies age, the binder degrades. Some brands are worse than others (Wabash is legend in this respect). Storage conditions matter--extreme humidity or heat can decrease the life of the binder. An accumulation of the coating from such a disk on the drive heads will exacerbate the situation--called the "sticky shed" syndrome. Audio tape enthusiasts run into this quite frequently.

First, clean the heads--forget the cleaning disk. Use a cotton swab with isopropanol or perchloroethylene or Freon TF if you can find it.

There is a way to temporarily rejuvenate a floppy much of the time (i.e. it's not sure-fire)--remove the cookie from the jacket and bake it for several hours between 130-140F, but no hotter. Re-insert the cookie into the jacket and read immediately. You may get the disk to last a day or so. I have a custom-made "oven" that I do this in with a PID temperature controller, so the temperature control is very good. Sometimes, coating the cookie with a bit of cocamide DEA can help lubricate things a bit.

Well, you did ask... :)
 

offensive_Jerk

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That baking method is interesting. I don't have any data I NEED to get off, it's just annoying to ruin commercial software diskettes. Some of the other ones that are more valuable like the first King's Quest I am too afraid to even insert as I don't want them wrecked.

So is isopropanol the same as Isopropyl alcohol? That would seem like the easiest of those chemicals to obtain.
 

SomeGuy

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Since you are having that many problems with it, yes, I would suggest removing the drive, inspecting it, manually cleaning the heads with a q-tip and alcohol, and cleaning any other dust or grime if needed.

Then thoroughly test the drive with a known good sacrificial floppy disk. Run it through a few formats and disk tests, make sure there are no errors and no significant damage appears on the disk surface.

Of course, a perfectly working drive won't mean you won't lose more disks. As chuck mentioned, binder material degrades after so much time. Also disks that were poorly stored are very likely to have dirt, dust, mildew, etc inside the disk jacket or on the disk surface.

If you can find copies elsewhere, DON'T run off of originals.

And go figure, right after shooting off my mouth the other day about never having a disk just randomly fall apart, I finally encountered a disk that totally ate itself up as I was reading it. When I visually checked the disk, the surface looked in OK condition, and the "cookie" seemed to turn in the jacket with no resistance, so everything seemed good. Probably should have at least blown some compressed air inside the jacket, it didn't look in bad enough condition to give it a full bath. But there must have been some dirt inside the jacket, combined with degrading binder. After the first pass there were grooves dug in to the surface, and additional passes just made things worse. The good news is that the first pass successfully read all the data off of it!
 

Stone

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Anyone who regularly uses twenty to twenty five year old floppy disks, especially 5¼", needs a floppy drive cleaning kit, i.e., a disk with cleaning solution. If you fall into this category and don't have one you'll just be spinning your wheels with what can appear to be bad floppy drive(s) when in actuality it's the disks themselves. I've had floppy drive cleaning kits, in both sizes, since the early 1990s and I've never looked back. If you don't have this equipment it's almost as bad as having a computer without a monitor. :)
 

Stone

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Yeah I used the cleaning disk a bunch of times but it wasn't cutting the mustard this time.
Using a cleaning disk on the drive's fouled heads will *not* enable you to use a *bad* disk in that or any drive. It will clean the heads so that the drive will now be able to read a good disk. ONLY GOOD DISKS CAN BE READ FROM OR WRITTEN TO!!! A bad disk can and will foul a good drive's heads in one second of use and must be discarded. So you must always have a known good disk on hand to determine if the drive's heads are working properly.
 

SpidersWeb

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Yeah I used the cleaning disk a bunch of times but it wasn't cutting the mustard this time.

Just wanted to check - are you running the cleaning disk dry or wet with isopropyl?
I've never had any success with dry cleaning disks or normal cleaning disks being run dry.
 

offensive_Jerk

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Stone, after reading the questionable disks is when I had the problem with the new disks. I put a brand new disk in just to test the drive and that's when it was getting carved into. I even tried again with another new disk knowing that one would likely be destroyed too. So, now I can't read anything with those two drives.

And spidersweb, yes, the cleaning disks were wet
 

offensive_Jerk

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Just to clarify, I was imaging disks, then noticed it seemed they were getting harder to read, so I stupidly put another known working disk in to image that and the drive started ruining it, along with not being able to read it.

That's when I knew the drive needed cleaning (at the very least) and ran the disk cleaner with fluid in. I ran that a bunch of times, and then put a brand new disk in to test. Those were still being ruined. I wasn't trying to clean the drive and read the same disk again.
 

Stone

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When you say 'brand new' disk exactly what do you mean? A disk can be 'new' and still be bad. :) You need to use a known good disk -- one that has just worked in another machine/drive. If the disk is not known to be currently working/good it might have the same problem as the others and it could also be a culprit that will foul the drive's heads again. Remember, one second is more than enough time for a bad disk to do it's dirty-work. The only valid test is to 1) clean the drive's heads and 2) try a known good disk in that drive. Anything short of that is not a reliable test of the drive's true condition.
 

offensive_Jerk

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The disk was new, and working. I had formatted it about a week ago. Two of them actually. I put another known working disk in after the first one died and the exact same result.
And also the known working commercial game disk before those.
 

offensive_Jerk

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I'm hesitant to try any of those other disks that came with my PCjr, I hate when this happens.
Looks like I'll have to take the drives out again and clean them, even though I just had the whole system apart to clean the 30ish years of swill out of the case.
 

Stone

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No need to take anything apart. Just use a cleaning disk. I have fouled drives' heads hundreds, if not thousands of times with the mountain of 25 - 30 year old disks that I have and the cleaning disk, when used correctly, has revived the floppy drive(s) every time. I have never had to disassemble a drive or a computer to clean a floppy drive.
 

Stone

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You can't just put the cleaning disk in the drive. That won't do anything at all! :) :) :) It's got to SPIN for a while, maybe 10 - 15 seconds, or even more. Don't forget the fluid. What I do is from a C:\> prompt type DIR A: and press enter. Then I press 'R' two or three times when the Abort, Retry, Fail message appears. That gives the heads a good cleaning (which is what it sounds like they really need).
 

KC9UDX

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Get a flashlight and look into the drive. It's sometimes possible to get a long "Q-tip" in there to clean the heads without tearing the drive apart. In my experience, "Q-tip"s with alcohol are much more effective than cleaning disks: Cleaning disks are great if you use them regularly. However, if your drive is to the point where it's not working because the head is dirty, the "Q-tip" is the way to go, IMHO.
 

Chuck(G)

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No need to take anything apart. Just use a cleaning disk. I have fouled drives' heads hundreds, if not thousands of times with the mountain of 25 - 30 year old disks that I have and the cleaning disk, when used correctly, has revived the floppy drive(s) every time. I have never had to disassemble a drive or a computer to clean a floppy drive.

I've been the victim of a seriously fouled disk twice--no cleaning disk would get the crud off the head. I had to go in with a throat swab (long wooden-shafted version of a Q-tip) and perc before the stuff would come off. Be careful with the program used with the cleaning disk--the aggressive cleaning program with ImageDisk is too much for some drives. Usually, just a "DIR" getting a "not ready" a few times is sufficient in most cases.
 

offensive_Jerk

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Stone, I know you need to have the disk drive spin when you have the cleaning disk in, I just figured it was so obvious I didn't mention that. I did try again, and hit the r key 3 times the. Moistened the disk again and hit r 3 more times. The drive is still having issues. Looks like it's qtip time.
 
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