• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Revitalizing old floppy disks

bettablue

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2011
Messages
1,647
Location
Eugene, OR
I know this was asked previously, but I have a full box of floppy disks that I bought back when I first got my PC. June of 2011 or there-about. I know some of them didn't work, but OK, I knew the source was quetionable. But now, none of the disks in the entire box are any good at all. Other disks I got from users with programs on them, etc, all work fine. And they work fine in my tweener. It's just these 15 disks that I can't get to do anything with.

I would like to know if there is any way at all to revitalize these diskettes, or are they all just a bunch of landfill? I suspect that these disks were not stored exactly as recommended. Although they do all look fine, and there are no visible lines or scratches on them. It's more like these disks were in contact with some electronic device or something that caused them to lose all of their formatting. Indeed, I have tried a couple of programs to try forcing a format but I get the same error pretty much with each of these disks. Please insert valid media, or media unformatted, would you like to format the media now?

Of course, when I format, it fails.

Any ideas?

Thanks again.
 

lucasdaytona

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
535
Location
Brasil
I had the same problem recently, and the cause was dirt heads. Some disks worked ok, but a specific lot didn't work at all. Are you 100% sure that your floppy heads are 100% clean?
 

Stone

10k Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
12,814
Location
South Jersey, USA
There are floppies and there are floppies. Some were well made and others were not. If you've got one box of the same disks that are all bad I'd just chalk it up to one of the not well made varieties. It's not the hardware and it's probably not the storage conditions. I've got thousands and thousands of floppies and many times I've seen bad batches. Not to say that they were bad when they were made. But, 15 - 20 years later they just didn't hold up at all.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,715
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
Very often, trying to read one bad floppy will contaminate the heads so that subsequent floppies all look bad. Just clean the heads and try again without the bad disk.

The worst floppies to handle in my experience are the grey-label Wabash brand ones. Hard or soft-sector, it makes no difference.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,715
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
Wabash is that famous for melting while you use?

Heh, they had a bad reputation even when they were new. Instead of fixing their binder issues, they just reduced the price on the floppies. When I get a bunch in for recovery, I'll usually refuse unless the customer wants to pay extra--and risk the data being destroyed. I mean to give some the Nu-Finish treatment to see if that helps, but I haven't had the opportunity yet.
 

bettablue

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2011
Messages
1,647
Location
Eugene, OR
Heads are clean and in good alignment. In fact, if a disk works in my tweener, it will work in my IBM, and vice versa. So I'll go with stone and Chuck on this one and just toss them. If they're not worth trying to save, then they're not. I can live with that. And in the next month or so, I'll buy another couple boxes from either stone or LyonAdmiral.

Thanks for the feedback. It's about what I thought.

BTY Chuck. I just got my Simpson 260 back today from having some resistors replaced, so I'll be looking at my AST card over the next few days to see about the reading you had mentioned in the AST thread.

Tanks again everyone.


I had the same problem recently, and the cause was dirt heads. Some disks worked ok, but a specific lot didn't work at all. Are you 100% sure that your floppy heads are 100% clean?
 

Ole Juul

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
3,982
Location
Coalmont, BC, Canada
. . . and just toss them.

Not so fast! I've found that format programs are not perfect either. Often if they see a bad disk they can't cope. I've often found that using FreeForm (I'm sure there are others that can do this) to format the disk, then it will work. FF doesn't complain and has many other desirable features which can be useful - if only as a learning/playing experience. I put FFRM231A.ZIP here for you.
 

krebizfan

Veteran Member
Joined
May 23, 2009
Messages
5,460
Location
Connecticut
I would not throw away the disks. Even though the disks are unlikely to work reliably anymore and I would not force them to be formatted, the jackets are still good. If any other disk suffers damage that requires removing the jacket, you have a stock of replacement jackets ready without having to destroy a good disk. Some people also use bad disks as replacements for the card that supposed to be inserted into a drive for shipment.

I never had good success with the force formatters. Even though sometimes they could produce a disk that could immediately be written to and read, after a short time the disk stopped working again.
 

patscc

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2005
Messages
2,311
Location
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
krebizfan said
Even though sometimes they could produce a disk that could immediately be written to and read, after a short time the disk stopped working again.
A truly excellent point. If you have media of dubious quality ( dubious being defined as the stock OS formatter kicks it out ), do you *really* want to force it into use ?
Maybe the force formatters originated in Wabash's secret lab of doom and pepsi-cola.
patscc
 

Ole Juul

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
3,982
Location
Coalmont, BC, Canada
Ole, ever used FORMATQM? DOS, no-hands operation, multiple drives, lots of options, including "PERFECT" etc.

Yes I have. It's been a long time. As I recall it was excellent but more suitable for production work.

krebizfan said:
I never had good success with the force formatters. Even though sometimes they could produce a disk that could immediately be written to and read, after a short time the disk stopped working again.

My experience has been exactly the opposite - it has been a software problem. I've been using a half dozen disks lately that are exactly in that category. MS FORMAT said "track 0 bad" or some such, and so did the several other programs that I had on hand. The "/u" switch notwithstanding. They were wrong. It was just a problem with their code. Like I say I've been using those disks intensively for a while, and by using I mean writing and deleting a lot of files and keeping them bootable as well. MS DOS programs tend to be very solid, and I like them for that, but the FORMAT one is faulty. MS SCANDISK thinks the disks are fine now.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,715
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
That one's nice, if it's the one I'm thinking of. It does the 3.5 MS DMF.patscc

I went overboard on that one--you could vary the sectors per track, FAT size, root directory size, include copy-protection, your own boot sector, call user code for each diskette, specify the number of passes to be made, the number of errors that you'd tolerate, format Mac HFS floppies...the list just goes on and on.

It pretty much died when Windows came in.
 

Ole Juul

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
3,982
Location
Coalmont, BC, Canada
I went overboard on that one--you could vary the sectors per track, FAT size, root directory size, include copy-protection, your own boot sector, call user code for each diskette, specify the number of passes to be made, the number of errors that you'd tolerate, format Mac HFS floppies...the list just goes on and on.

It pretty much died when Windows came in.

I'll have to look at it again. I just went through two machines like a drug squad through your apartment, and couldn't find it. It's here somewhere ...

BTW, I've got a terrible memory, but as I recall the problem with the MS format was that it wouldn't format a disk that had been wiped clean with a demagnetizer despite using /u and /f:1.44.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,715
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
Not only formatqm but also copyqm. I used to use that one a lot when I was duplicating disks.

I did a special version of CopyQM we called SyDupe--it could run 3 controllers simultaneously. I still have it installed on a 6-floppy tower. It's a lot of fun to watch operating.
 

bettablue

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2011
Messages
1,647
Location
Eugene, OR
I have copies of several force Format programs, but like patscc had mentioned, I seem to have had mixed results at best. In my massive collection of software, whilch will be posted on All Things DOS shortly, I have the following programs for force formatting. FormaQM, CopyQM, Format 58, and FDFormat. Although CopyQM really isn't a formatting program, it's my understanding that it will attempt a format if the program cannot write ti the floppy diskette. The only one I'm missing is Chucks Sydupe program. I know we had discuseed this previously, and Sydupe came up then too. And I think you even tried sending me a copy, but for some reason or other, I never received it.

The main reason I'm asking about this box of disks, is because each and every one of them is toast. Where previously, as I was going through my stockpile of floppies, I ran into a bunch that were good, and another bunch that were questionable, and a 3rg batch that were completely unreadable, and not able to be formatted. The latter being because of Track 0 issues; as in, unable to read track 0, or could not locate, or something. But on this box if disks, there doesn't appear to be anything for the format program to grab onto at all. Even chkdsk can't do anything.

I'll do as my friend ole juul stated, and see what happens. Thanks for the program link too. That was another one, besides Cucks Sydupe, that I didn't have in my archives.

So Chuck, do you mind posting a copy, or throwing a link out there please?




Sydupe seems to be a Sytel edit, is that right Chuck?

Now that I have this new computer, things are much more organized, so I'll be able to save them fo later.

Thanks much as always.

I did a special version of CopyQM we called SyDupe--it could run 3 controllers simultaneously. I still have it installed on a 6-floppy tower. It's a lot of fun to watch operating.
 
Top