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Lotus 1-2-3/ floppy disk problems

by wetsekim / October 1, 2009 9:11 AM PDT

My wife uses Lotus 1-2-3 and we think it was installed around 2003. Whenever she tries to read the data on a floppy, it gets erased. We have replaced the floppy reader/drive. Our computer repairman says that the floppy disks are "dying". This is THE ORIGINAL Lotus 1-2-3 program and it has never been updated because it was never hooked up to the internet. The wife only uses the spreadsheet portion of the software that is installed. Can anyone who reads this give us an answer, or point us in the right direction to try and solve this problem. I have joined the IBM discussion group to try and get answers too.

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I've seen that happen.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 1, 2009 9:23 AM PDT

The floppy drive had failed in a very bad way. All diskettes inserted would get erased. The killer clue was that the drive would erase media even when the machine was not connected to the drive (power only.) This confounded many and you better believe the owner did ask "can you fix the drive?"

We had to say no and they said they would find a better shop that could fix diskette drives rather than replace them. You always wonder.
Bob

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Addendum to "replace the drive."
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 1, 2009 8:27 PM PDT
In reply to: I've seen that happen.

If a new drive does the same there is ONE OTHER PART that controls this drive but you may not like where it is. But do try a new cable first.

If the cable fails to fix it, here's a pin out of the floppy drive signals -> http://www.interfacebus.com/PC_Floppy_Drive_PinOut.html

Examine the functions on pins 2 and 24. Faults on the controller (now located on the motherboard) on those signals can result in a good drive erasing diskettes.

If replacing the motherboard is not an option, consider using some USB FLOPPY DRIVE like http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002G1YP3O This is too similar to the last drives I keep at home and the shop for legacy work.

We didn't broach the subject of OS issues but you can tell if that is an issue by using the write protect on the media. This area is full of topics that could be in play. From a boot virus that infected machines years ago and yes I read where this machine is not on the internet but those virus would infect machines prior to that day and corrupt diskettes effectively erasing them. Here's a note about that old pest -> http://webact.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2000-122009-5001-99 and AntiCmos and the list goes on and on.

These boot and MBR infections can reveal themselves by the symptom above.
Bob

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Re: floppy disk problems
by Kees Bakker / October 1, 2009 5:14 PM PDT

Strange. Bob says to replace the drive (seems a good advice) and you say you already did it, implying that didn't help.

Now let's find out if it is a Lotus-problem.

1. Don't start Lotus.
2. Put in the diskette.
3. Use your favorite tool (like Windows Explorer or My Computer) to copy the file to the hard disk.
4. Remove the diskette. Check the contents on another PC.
5. Use Lotus to update the file.
6. Exit Lotus.
7. Put in the diskette.
8. Copy the file from the hard disk to the diskette.
9. Check the diskette on another PC.

If anything goes wrong during this scenario, it's not a Lotus problem, because Lotus doesn't see the diskette. And it's not a drive problem (because you replaced the drive already), so it's a motherboard problem.

Of course, hardly anybody uses floppies anymore. Their main use shifted from data storage (1980) via data transport and backup (1990, storage on a hard disk) to data transport only (2000, files were getting to big to backup on a floppy). During these 20 years they turned out to be rather unreliable and error-prone. But for transporting data between systems that didn't really matter much.

For all purposes now, they have been replaced by USB-sticks. Those are bigger (up to 8 GB), faster and much more reliable.
So that's my advice here.

Kees

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