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can't open old floppy

Hello. I am trying to open 3 old 3 1/2" floppy disks and keep getting a message to format the disk. I know that the disks have the files I want because I wrote on the label of each disk. So I don't want to reformat and lose the files. How do I get to these files? I tried using an older computer, but that didn't work either. Please help!

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Since they are old floppy disks....

In reply to: can't open old floppy

it could be that the disks are older 720KB size and not 1.44MB size disks.....

Try looking to see if you can change the direction of what it should look at in the floppy drive area of the bios to 720KB and then when you get to windows, try it again to see if that works. Make sure you change it back later after saving the files to your harddrive desktop in a separate folder.....that way once you change the drive back to being 1.44MB in the bios and reboot, you can then send them to newer floppy disks.


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In reply to: Since they are old floppy disks....

This keeps getting worse. A fourth disk that I successfully opened earlier today is now not reading the file that I need! It is a 1.44MB disk (the 3 others say MFD-2DD). I created a new folder to find the file more easily, and now that folder doesn't exist when using the old computer and the disk doesn't read at all on the newer computer.
I'm using Windows XP. Could you walk me through finding the bios?
Thanks for your help!

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Probably can't

In reply to: can't open old floppy

Floppies are not reliable media, and they tend to fail quite regularly. Chances are, they're simply dead, and anything on them is gone.

You could try sending it to data retrieval companies, but I'm sure the cost would outweigh the benefits.

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In reply to: Probably can't

Good idea. Unfortunately, I do really need this stuff. Can you recommend a good place?

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wondering if you can copy the files

In reply to: hmm

using true dos mode.

Get a bootdisk (free) from (get one for W98SE). Once you have the .exe file downloaded, put a clean floppy disk in the drive, and click the .exe file you downloaded and it will take about ten minutes to create the bootdisk.

Now reboot the computer with that bootdisk, and don't enable cdrom support when asked on the first screen.

When you get to the A: prompt, type C: and you will get to the C: drive. Now type MD FLOPPY1 and press Enter. now type MD FLOPPY2 and press Enter. Do this for how ever how many floppy disks you need to get copied and number each one accordingly. need to type A: and press Enter again so you are back at the A: prompt.

Put in the first floppy disk and type

COPY *.* C:/FLOPPY1 and press Enter. Make sure you put the spaces where they are shown here so the command works.

It should start reading the floppy disk and will show you what files it can copy and what it can't....hopefully it will catch them all.

Once it's finished, you will be again at the A: prompt so now put in the second disk, and type the same command, but C:/FLOPPY2 and repeat the process for each disk.

Once you have the files copied (hopefully), you can remove all disks from the floppy drive and press CTRL-ALT-DEL and it will reboot the computer.....or press the power button and do it manually. Get to the desktop, open Windows Explorer and under the C: drive you will find all the folders you created with the files inside.

Now.....get some clean floppy disks and open each floppy folder, click Edit, Select All, right click any highlighted file, and choose SEND TO FLOPPY from the menu. can use your cdr-w/dvd-rw device and burn all of the folders to a cd at one time for safekeeping since floppy disks are unreliable and unstable.

Let us know if this worked for you......sometimes I have found with floppy disks that what windows can't do, good old reliable MS-DOS works wonders with. Hope so in your case, too.


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No go.

In reply to: wondering if you can copy the files

Thanks for the detailed suggestions. DOS didn't read anything on 3 of the disks, and started to copy files on the fourth (except the one I put into a new folder), and then had an error message: Data error reading drive A. I tried several times on both computers, also tried several freeware recovery programs. Nothing.
I think I might try a data recovery service if no one has any other suggestions.

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One other thing to try

In reply to: No go.

is reading the floppies on another computer. A number of times I have encountered the situation that a floppy written on computer A could not be read later on computer A or on computer B, but could be read on computer C or D. This may be due to slight differences in head allignment or in read sensitivity.

Invest a few bucks in a flash drive, and then go to friends, work, or evan a computer shop, and try reading it on other systems. If you find a computer that will read the floppy, copy it to the flash drive for transfer back to your system.

Hope this helps


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In reply to: No go.

as previous replies have said - they are notoriously unreliable - just a thought - u have not kept them by your mobile phone? Electro magnetism causes of a lot of those probs? (that's really for future info)

anyway - real outside chance is to open application and then try 2 open floppy from within app - often bad sectors just affect some of the files - graspin @ straws for ya!!

I would also, like one of the replies stated, try them in lots of different PCs + have you cleaned yr floppy drive recently?

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Shareware and freeware recovery programs here

In reply to: No go.

One of these actually runs from a floppy disk instead of your harddrive in case you have files on the harddrive to recover and don't want to risk overwriting any of your case you could install the program to the harddrive and have it search the floppy disks to see what can be recovered....or run the program from a floppy disk and swap disks as you need the source.


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Data Recovery

In reply to: hmm

They could help you and if you check their various recovery services and options you might find just what you need.

It could be caused by a difference in floppy drive alignment or it could also be caused by a missing media descriptor in the floppy's boot sector. You haven't provide any exact error message so we must offer guesses. Do take a look at this MS KB link:;en-us;140060
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what I've tried

In reply to: Data Recovery

Hello all. Thanks again for the many replies and help offered.
I tried computers at the local library today and a really old computer at home. At the library, the error messages were the same as the ones I'm getting on my home computer: The disk in drive A is not formatted. When I try to open from the application, I get: The floppy disk in drive A: is not formatted or has been formatted for a Macintosh. Then I click OK and I get: 'A:' is not accessible. The disk media is not recognized. It may not be formatted.
Then I tried a hard drive I had buried in the closet with Windows 95 (!!). I could access _some_ of the files from the one disk I opened early yesterday (which is not currently opening on my new system), but not the files I created new folders for, which are the ones I need.
I tried the DOS method on the old machine, and it copies the files that I can open in Windows, and then stops, giving me the error message: Data error reading drive A. The remaining 3 disks get: General failure reading drive A.
I also tried PC Inspector and Restoration, as well as several others, to no avail.
Now I'm seeking professional help Wink I'm going to try CD Data Guys, which I found through these boards, because they are very reasonable (flat fee of $89, fast turnaround, and no charge if they can't recover the file I want). Fortunately, I do know the name of the file because I saw it yesterday. If it goes well, I'll send the 3 other disks.
I'll write a follow-up in a week or so to let everyone know what happens. Thanks again.

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Good news!

In reply to: what I've tried

I am very pleased to report that CD Data Guys ( were able to recover my lost file. They e-mailed it to me in less than a week and charged less than ontrack ($89 versus $150, no charge if they can't recover targeted data).
Of course I wish I was able to do it myself, but overall I was happy with their service. I'm letting everyone know in case someone finds him/herself in a similar situation.
Thanks again to everyone who offered information, and lesson learned: back those floppies up on cds!

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(NT) (NT) Laughinggull, Thanks For Posting Back !

In reply to: Good news!

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If you haven't already sent...

In reply to: Good news!

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Can't open old floppy

In reply to: can't open old floppy

TRULY this 'format' issue is often the Evil Empire Strikes! Microsoft after Win 95 has added a Code to identify the disk type/drive being used. There is even a code for 8 inch Floppys! Of course a DOS disk does not have this in it's root directory. The Evil part is telling us we need to Format! How many people have done that and Lost their Archived Data? Where is the simple option ----'Select Drive Used' ?
Learned this trying to print a file saved with a 486 DOS machine using the same drive that wrote the disk in an XP. Do Not use Linux but suggest trying that or a MAC then a recovery program?
Microsoft did this KNOWING no older floppy would read! They did Not offer a way around it. They have chosen to not offer us a 'Patch'---does telling you a Good Disk is Bad and leading you to Format/Erase data valuable to you equal MALWARE?
Ken Blake - Microsoft MVP replied on February 10, 2014

CNet PLEASE do an article on this!!

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