current "last best hope" for old floppy data recovery?

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

Hi everyone. When I moved to a new department I officially became
responsible for all of their historical data: which it turns out is
mainly stored in a file cabinet full of a few hundred 3.5" DOS floppy
disks dating back as far as 1988. In the course trying to copy
everything to our file server I am finding that about 20% of the disks
are unreadable. By unreadable I mean that the computer is not
recognizing the disk as being formatted, not that it is experiencing
bad sector read errors when trying to copy.

I have not had to do this sort of thing in a long while, so I was
wondering if anyone can recommend a good floppy data recovery tool
given that they might just have one pass left in them? A good
Win-based tool would be welcome, but if I absolutely had to I could
give it a try using gnu/linux tools.

Also, many of the disks are not high but double density it was also
suggested that some of those really old disks should be read by an old
double density drive as for various -bios-related reasons modern
drives are not good at picking up data on old DD disks -- is that true
and should I start looking on ebay? Thanks much everyone.

--chris
12 answers Last reply
More about current last hope floppy data recovery
  1. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    C G Kolar wrote:
    > Hi everyone. When I moved to a new department I officially became
    > responsible for all of their historical data: which it turns out is
    > mainly stored in a file cabinet full of a few hundred 3.5" DOS floppy
    > disks dating back as far as 1988. In the course trying to copy
    > everything to our file server I am finding that about 20% of the disks
    > are unreadable. By unreadable I mean that the computer is not
    > recognizing the disk as being formatted, not that it is experiencing
    > bad sector read errors when trying to copy.
    >
    > I have not had to do this sort of thing in a long while, so I was
    > wondering if anyone can recommend a good floppy data recovery tool
    > given that they might just have one pass left in them? A good
    > Win-based tool would be welcome, but if I absolutely had to I could
    > give it a try using gnu/linux tools.
    >
    > Also, many of the disks are not high but double density it was also
    > suggested that some of those really old disks should be read by an old
    > double density drive as for various -bios-related reasons modern
    > drives are not good at picking up data on old DD disks -- is that true
    > and should I start looking on ebay? Thanks much everyone.
    >
    > --chris

    I would certainly try several drives by several different manufacturers;
    they can vary slightly in adjustment and sensitivity. Whether it would
    be worthwhile to find an old pre-HD drive seems questionable to me --
    you're not too likely to find one in good condition.

    --
    The e-mail address in our reply-to line is reversed in an attempt to
    minimize spam. Our true address is of the form che...@prodigy.net.
  2. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    Previously C G Kolar <ckolar@imsa.edu> wrote:
    > Hi everyone. When I moved to a new department I officially became
    > responsible for all of their historical data: which it turns out is
    > mainly stored in a file cabinet full of a few hundred 3.5" DOS floppy
    > disks dating back as far as 1988. In the course trying to copy
    > everything to our file server I am finding that about 20% of the disks
    > are unreadable. By unreadable I mean that the computer is not
    > recognizing the disk as being formatted, not that it is experiencing
    > bad sector read errors when trying to copy.

    > I have not had to do this sort of thing in a long while, so I was
    > wondering if anyone can recommend a good floppy data recovery tool
    > given that they might just have one pass left in them? A good
    > Win-based tool would be welcome, but if I absolutely had to I could
    > give it a try using gnu/linux tools.

    > Also, many of the disks are not high but double density it was also
    > suggested that some of those really old disks should be read by an old
    > double density drive as for various -bios-related reasons modern
    > drives are not good at picking up data on old DD disks -- is that true
    > and should I start looking on ebay? Thanks much everyone.

    This sounds like a case for professional data recovery. Floppies are
    one of the few remaininge media that have significant issues with the
    signal going weaker, without it going necessarily close or below the
    noise level. With better amplifiers and reading heads many of the
    unreadable floppies should still be readable. My guess here is that
    the unreadable ones just have read errors in areas the OS checks in
    order to find out whether the floppy is readable.

    One thing before you spend a lot of money: VGA-copy is a
    dos disk copy programm that will allow you an assessment
    of whether a floppy is unreadable or just in some strange format.
    In addition its "retry"-counter can be set up to 99, which sometimes
    is enough to recover bad sectors. It has been a long time simce
    I sued it, no idea where you can find it. If I remember correctly
    it is fully functional shareware.

    As to the DD/HD issue, it only exists in 5.25" floppies, since there
    the DD floppies had 40 tracks, while the HD ones has 80 tracks
    and these tracks consequentially where slimmer. It is also mostly
    an issue when writing, not when reading. I know of no such
    issue with 3.5" disks and I have recently converted all my old
    3.5" DD floppies (Atari ST) to disk-images.

    Arno
    --
    For email address: lastname AT tik DOT ee DOT ethz DOT ch
    GnuPG: ID:1E25338F FP:0C30 5782 9D93 F785 E79C 0296 797F 6B50 1E25 338F
    "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws" - Tacitus
  3. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    Arno Wagner <me@privacy.net> wrote:

    >This sounds like a case for professional data recovery. Floppies are
    >one of the few remaininge media that have significant issues with the
    >signal going weaker, without it going necessarily close or below the
    >noise level. With better amplifiers and reading heads many of the
    >unreadable floppies should still be readable. My guess here is that
    >the unreadable ones just have read errors in areas the OS checks in
    >order to find out whether the floppy is readable.
    >
    >One thing before you spend a lot of money: VGA-copy is a
    >dos disk copy programm that will allow you an assessment
    >of whether a floppy is unreadable or just in some strange format.
    >In addition its "retry"-counter can be set up to 99, which sometimes
    >is enough to recover bad sectors. It has been a long time simce
    >I sued it, no idea where you can find it. If I remember correctly
    >it is fully functional shareware.

    Thanks Arno. I will give them another look, I appreciate your
    background information on how floppies fail. I did find a copy of the
    program that you mentioned at

    http://www.pctipp.ch/downloads/dl/18830.asp

    Download is in German, there is an english .exe that will change the
    language for someone like me.

    >As to the DD/HD issue, it only exists in 5.25" floppies, since there
    >the DD floppies had 40 tracks, while the HD ones has 80 tracks
    >and these tracks consequentially where slimmer. It is also mostly
    >an issue when writing, not when reading. I know of no such
    >issue with 3.5" disks and I have recently converted all my old
    >3.5" DD floppies (Atari ST) to disk-images.

    That is good to hear, at least I will save myself some time not trying
    to follow up on this aspect of the problem. I appreciate your follow
    up post.

    --chris
  4. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    C G Kolar <ckolar@imsa.edu> writes:

    >Arno Wagner <me@privacy.net> wrote:

    >>One thing before you spend a lot of money: VGA-copy is a
    >>dos disk copy programm that will allow you an assessment
    >>of whether a floppy is unreadable or just in some strange format.
    >>In addition its "retry"-counter can be set up to 99, which sometimes
    >>is enough to recover bad sectors. It has been a long time simce
    >>I sued it, no idea where you can find it. If I remember correctly
    >>it is fully functional shareware.

    >Thanks Arno. I will give them another look, I appreciate your
    >background information on how floppies fail. I did find a copy of the
    >program that you mentioned at

    >http://www.pctipp.ch/downloads/dl/18830.asp

    Another program worth trying is RESQFLPY.EXE, a free DOS program
    easily found on the Web. If the disk can't be read by the operating
    system because of damage to the system areas, RESQFLPY can copy the data
    to an image file, then back to a good floppy which can be read by the OS.
    --
    --Donald Davis

    [To respond by e-mail, remove "blackhole." from the address.]
  5. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    Keep in mind that Windows XP doesn't support DD disks anymore. You have to
    use older OS.

    "C G Kolar" <ckolar@imsa.edu> wrote in message
    news:rld4q0pffgv7nb892p0vg1hqjq67adfre5@4ax.com...
    > Hi everyone. When I moved to a new department I officially became
    > responsible for all of their historical data: which it turns out is
    > mainly stored in a file cabinet full of a few hundred 3.5" DOS floppy
    > disks dating back as far as 1988. In the course trying to copy
    > everything to our file server I am finding that about 20% of the disks
    > are unreadable. By unreadable I mean that the computer is not
    > recognizing the disk as being formatted, not that it is experiencing
    > bad sector read errors when trying to copy.
    >
    > I have not had to do this sort of thing in a long while, so I was
    > wondering if anyone can recommend a good floppy data recovery tool
    > given that they might just have one pass left in them? A good
    > Win-based tool would be welcome, but if I absolutely had to I could
    > give it a try using gnu/linux tools.
    >
    > Also, many of the disks are not high but double density it was also
    > suggested that some of those really old disks should be read by an old
    > double density drive as for various -bios-related reasons modern
    > drives are not good at picking up data on old DD disks -- is that true
    > and should I start looking on ebay? Thanks much everyone.
    >
    > --chris
  6. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    In article <WZzod.2740$uV6.984@newsread3.news.pas.earthlink.net>,
    "Alexander Grigoriev" <alegr@earthlink.net> wrote:
    >Keep in mind that Windows XP doesn't support DD disks anymore. You have to
    >use older OS.

    Which leads me to wonder -- what about just booting from a DOS floppy?
    (Perhaps that would mean having a FAT16 partition in part of the HDD
    that DOS can see too, in order to get much useful work done with it?)

    >"C G Kolar" <ckolar@imsa.edu> wrote in message
    >news:rld4q0pffgv7nb892p0vg1hqjq67adfre5@4ax.com...
    >> Hi everyone. When I moved to a new department I officially became
    >> responsible for all of their historical data: which it turns out is
    >> mainly stored in a file cabinet full of a few hundred 3.5" DOS floppy
    >> disks dating back as far as 1988. In the course trying to copy
    >> everything to our file server I am finding that about 20% of the disks
    >> are unreadable. By unreadable I mean that the computer is not
    >> recognizing the disk as being formatted, not that it is experiencing
    >> bad sector read errors when trying to copy.
    >>
    >> I have not had to do this sort of thing in a long while, so I was
    >> wondering if anyone can recommend a good floppy data recovery tool
    >> given that they might just have one pass left in them? A good
    >> Win-based tool would be welcome, but if I absolutely had to I could
    >> give it a try using gnu/linux tools.
    >>
    >> Also, many of the disks are not high but double density it was also
    >> suggested that some of those really old disks should be read by an old
    >> double density drive as for various -bios-related reasons modern
    >> drives are not good at picking up data on old DD disks -- is that true
    >> and should I start looking on ebay? Thanks much everyone.
    >>
    >> --chris
    >
    >

    Cheers, Phred.

    --
    ppnerkDELETE@THISyahoo.com.INVALID
  7. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    C G Kolar <ckolar@imsa.edu> wrote:

    > Hi everyone. When I moved to a new department I officially became
    > responsible for all of their historical data: which it turns out is
    > mainly stored in a file cabinet full of a few hundred 3.5" DOS floppy
    > disks dating back as far as 1988. In the course trying to copy
    > everything to our file server I am finding that about 20% of the disks
    > are unreadable. By unreadable I mean that the computer is not
    > recognizing the disk as being formatted, not that it is experiencing
    > bad sector read errors when trying to copy.
    >
    > I have not had to do this sort of thing in a long while, so I was
    > wondering if anyone can recommend a good floppy data recovery tool
    > given that they might just have one pass left in them? A good
    > Win-based tool would be welcome, but if I absolutely had to I could
    > give it a try using gnu/linux tools.

    There is a substantial difference in how the OS accesses floppies in the
    following three OS families: NT based (NT4, W2K, XP), Win 9x/ME, and DOS. Win
    9x/ME may be able to read a marginal floppy that XP can't read, and plain DOS
    (MS-DOS 7.x before loading Win 9x/ME are plain DOS, for that matter) may read
    what Windows 9x/ME can't. Therefore, floppy recovery should preferably be
    conducted under DOS. Which is the reason for which ResQfloppy is a DOS program.

    > Also, many of the disks are not high but double density it was also
    > suggested that some of those really old disks should be read by an old
    > double density drive as for various -bios-related reasons modern
    > drives are not good at picking up data on old DD disks -- is that true
    > and should I start looking on ebay? Thanks much everyone.

    Stiffies, as 3.5" disks are sometimes called, are either 720 K or 1.4 Mb in
    capacity and you can easily tell the one from the other by the square holes (one
    has the write-protect tab). 1.4 Mb have two holes, one on each side, those that
    have only one hole are 720 Kb. The OS identifies automatically which is which
    by reading the boot sector, on insertion. When the OS can't tell, then the boot
    sector is either corrupt, or unreadable. You can then tell which is which
    simply by the hole/s.

    Modern floppy drives have no problem reading both formats. If there is a
    problem then the cause is elsewhere (unreadable BPB from boot sector).

    A free floppy recovery tool is available from www.resq.co.il/iv_tools.php. Read
    the "readme" file (in the self extract package) before starting work.

    Recover your floppies on a Windows 9x PC, started to MS-DOS. If you have no
    such PC, then take the FreeDOS boot floppy maker, from the same page as
    ResQfloppy, and use it to boot the computer into DOS mode. The FreeDOS floppy
    will create a RAM disk on startup that should suffice for all the utilities as
    well as the floppy image file(s).

    If you run with RAMdrive, then don't forget to copy command.com to it and set
    the "comspec" as follows: SET COMSPEC=[d]:\COMMAND.COM where [d] is the letter
    assigned to the RAMdrive. Another tip: Copy FORMAT.COM too to the RAM drive,
    you'll need it.

    Lastly and most important: Make sure the write-protect tab of floppies is in
    the write-protect position before inserting the floppy into the drive. All it
    takes to render a floppy unreadable is to insert it after the wrong one. The
    drive may write to it cached data! I wouldn't be surprised if this is how you
    lost access to part of those floppies.

    Regards, Zvi
    --
    NetZ Computing Ltd. ISRAEL www.invircible.com www.ivi.co.il (Hebrew)
    InVircible Virus Defense Solutions, ResQ and Data Recovery Utilities
  8. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Donald G. Davis" <dgdavis@blackhole.nyx.net> wrote in message news:1101183468.832020@irys.nyx.net
    > C G Kolar <ckolar@imsa.edu> writes:
    > > Arno Wagner <me@privacy.net> wrote:
    >
    > > > One thing before you spend a lot of money: VGA-copy is a
    > > > dos disk copy programm that will allow you an assessment
    > > > of whether a floppy is unreadable or just in some strange format.
    > > > In addition its "retry"-counter can be set up to 99, which sometimes
    > > > is enough to recover bad sectors. It has been a long time simce
    > > > I sued it, no idea where you can find it. If I remember correctly
    > > > it is fully functional shareware.
    >
    > > Thanks Arno. I will give them another look, I appreciate your
    > > background information on how floppies fail. I did find a copy
    > > of the program that you mentioned at
    >
    > > http://www.pctipp.ch/downloads/dl/18830.asp
    >
    > Another program worth trying is RESQFLPY.EXE, a free DOS program
    > easily found on the Web. If the disk can't be read by the operating
    > system because of damage to the system areas, RESQFLPY can copy the data
    > to an image file, then back to a good floppy which can be read by the OS.

    But will still be unreadable because of the previously 'damaged' and now
    missing 'system areas'.
  9. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Alexander Grigoriev" <alegr@earthlink.net> wrote:

    >Keep in mind that Windows XP doesn't support DD disks anymore. You have to
    >use older OS.

    That is an Aha! bit of news. Thanks Alexander.
  10. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    Zvi Netiv <support@replace_with_domain.com> wrote:
    [....]
    >A free floppy recovery tool is available from www.resq.co.il/iv_tools.php. Read
    >the "readme" file (in the self extract package) before starting work.
    >
    >Recover your floppies on a Windows 9x PC, started to MS-DOS. If you have no
    >such PC, then take the FreeDOS boot floppy maker, from the same page as
    >ResQfloppy, and use it to boot the computer into DOS mode. The FreeDOS floppy
    >will create a RAM disk on startup that should suffice for all the utilities as
    >well as the floppy image file(s).
    >
    >If you run with RAMdrive, then don't forget to copy command.com to it and set
    >the "comspec" as follows: SET COMSPEC=[d]:\COMMAND.COM where [d] is the letter
    >assigned to the RAMdrive. Another tip: Copy FORMAT.COM too to the RAM drive,
    >you'll need it.

    [....]

    Thanks Zvi for all of the information that you have posted. I am
    going to give your tools a try and see if I have any luck with
    recovery. I'll post a followup to this thread once I have some
    experiences to report.

    Cheers,

    --chris
  11. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Folkert Rienstra" <see_reply-to@myweb.nl> wrote:

    > "Donald G. Davis" <dgdavis@blackhole.nyx.net> wrote in message news:1101183468.832020@irys.nyx.net
    > > C G Kolar <ckolar@imsa.edu> writes:
    > > > Arno Wagner <me@privacy.net> wrote:
    > >
    > > > > One thing before you spend a lot of money: VGA-copy is a
    > > > > dos disk copy programm that will allow you an assessment
    > > > > of whether a floppy is unreadable or just in some strange format.
    > > > > In addition its "retry"-counter can be set up to 99, which sometimes
    > > > > is enough to recover bad sectors. It has been a long time simce
    > > > > I sued it, no idea where you can find it. If I remember correctly
    > > > > it is fully functional shareware.
    > >
    > > > Thanks Arno. I will give them another look, I appreciate your
    > > > background information on how floppies fail. I did find a copy
    > > > of the program that you mentioned at
    > >
    > > > http://www.pctipp.ch/downloads/dl/18830.asp
    > >
    > > Another program worth trying is RESQFLPY.EXE, a free DOS program
    > > easily found on the Web. If the disk can't be read by the operating
    > > system because of damage to the system areas, RESQFLPY can copy the data
    > > to an image file, then back to a good floppy which can be read by the OS.
    >
    > But will still be unreadable because of the previously 'damaged' and now
    > missing 'system areas'.

    Covered in the readme file, in the ResQfloppy page. The principles involved
    with recovery of data from floppies is exactly the same as from hard drives:
    Clone everything you can from the bad drive, then work on the clone and fix
    what's needed. ResQfloppy is actually the cloning component. For the rest,
    Read the Fine Document. ;)
    --
    NetZ Computing Ltd. ISRAEL www.invircible.com www.ivi.co.il (Hebrew)
    InVircible Virus Defense Solutions, ResQ and Data Recovery Utilities
  12. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage (More info?)

    I've used a floppy disk recovery software named BadCopy. It worked
    great for me.

    http://www.jufsoft.com/badcopy/
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