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Format floppy fails

Last response: in Windows XP
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January 9, 2010 3:25:50 PM

I can no longer format a floppy disk. Have not used them in forever.

cmnd, format a:, writes to the disk, or tries too, then verifies 1.44M and gives me an error "Invalid Media or Track 0 Bad - disk unusable"

Booting to safe mode with a cmnd prompt, I can change directory to a:. I can read disks. But I can't write to them.

When I try to delete a file I get the error message "access is denied". (fixed this by changing attributes then delete worked).

When I try to format, I get "cannot open volume for direct access".

Right clicking on a: in explorer takes forever, then I can hit format. Format and format an MS-DOS boot disk both fail.

I'm running XP Pro 2002 SP2. (Version 5.1 (Build 26000.xpsp_sp2_gdr.050301-1519 : Service Pack 2) My C: drive has about 2G free, I keep running out of room and I have new drives to install but it looks like I need to update the BIOS to update how it will run the SATA drives I just purchased.

Also running AVG 8.5.406.

More about : format floppy fails

January 9, 2010 3:41:08 PM

New floppies or old ones? Old ones have a habit of doing this.
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January 9, 2010 7:38:45 PM

All my floppies are old ones. Haven't bought or used a floppy since building this box back in 2002. Will new ones work? Can you still even buy them? What changed?
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January 9, 2010 7:59:15 PM

Nothing changed, it's just that old floppies get - well - old. It's always been the case. All magnetic media tend to have a limited lifespan. If a floppy won't format any longer I just bin it and use another one.

Yes you can still buy floppy disks; about a pound of two (in the UK) for a box of ten. If you can't find them anywhere else, Amazon sell them.

Disclaimer: I can't guarantee that the fault is the disks - it's always possible that your drive is past its best, but it's not too much of an investment to buy a box of floppies and try.
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January 9, 2010 8:47:54 PM

I'll look for newer disks to try. However my stockpile goes back a long time and they are not dated... I just put one in the drive which contains a backup file from 1992 :) .

I thought when I could read the directory in safe cmnd prompt mode but not from XP there were other OS issues going on. I did find a link about a byte change in the system area but formating from XP always fails.

I had tried a format from linux that wouldn't boot on the XP system too. Same pile from post '92.
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January 10, 2010 12:49:59 PM

Have you checked to see if the floppy drives ribbon cable was completely plugged in all the way, on the floppy and the M/B connection?

You can also try using a new ribbon cable sometimes over time DC current will develop corrosion, and simply plugging a new cable in can solve the problem.

Of course it can be as already mentioned bad floppy media or a bad floppy drive, but normally if its bad media, it won't work in any machine.
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January 10, 2010 3:04:02 PM

I found an old floppy that worked, pre '92. Thanks for all the help. I had to search quite a few, and it takes a while for windows to "see" the a: drive. But one was all I needed...
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January 10, 2010 3:09:23 PM

You can also clean the drive if you've never done it... blow it out with some air first, then if you have one of those floppy cleaning disks, use it. Nowadays though, floppies seem to be a lot less reliable than they used to be... I still have to use them to do BIOS updates when replacing system boards. I find myself creating two or three of them at times just to make sure I get one that works. This can occur with brand new disks from the box... which is very frustrating.
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January 10, 2010 6:13:10 PM

Zoron said:
You can also clean the drive if you've never done it... blow it out with some air first, then if you have one of those floppy cleaning disks, use it. Nowadays though, floppies seem to be a lot less reliable than they used to be... I still have to use them to do BIOS updates when replacing system boards. I find myself creating two or three of them at times just to make sure I get one that works. This can occur with brand new disks from the box... which is very frustrating.


I once bought a major multi pack of 100 Verbatim of which I thought I wouldn't have to buy anymore for a long time, turned out I only actually had bought a pack of about 45 with 55 of them useless, so much for bulk buying floppy disks.
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January 17, 2010 9:10:46 AM

Reminds of going to a doctor, he blames "old age". I've seen computers, Windows XP Pro to be precise in which you can't format a floppy. Those same floppies can be formated in several other XP PC's. Microsoft blames the floppies too and people pass on bad data. Has nothing to do with the Floppy but it is either a driver conflict or address conflict. I've seen dozens of floppies being ruined in one machine and most can be revived on another XP machine. To be precise the cause is an I/O ERROR.

How to verify if it the cause of Windows or a bad floppy drive. If you can do two (2) things then it is the cause of a Window conflict with the motherboard, memory, controller, or the bios.
1st: boot up in a REAL Dos prompt with a Floppy. Type "format a:" (without Q's)
[it will ask you to insert the floppy you want to format. Insert another floppy and hit enter]
Next boot into "Safe Mode" if the Floppy will format in Safe Mode then it is Windows communicating with the Hardware but failing. That's an I/O error.

Good luck -- and this problem is occurring more and more with the newer Motherboards which are trying to do away with Floppies anyway.
Yet their USB drivers to work in DOS mode are in themselves buggy. Those who like to run diagnostic programs, etc. had best see if his mobby will format and have both a Mouse & Keyboard (another area which is being slaughtered in favor of USB).
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May 24, 2012 2:30:23 AM

Vista and above (and sometimes XP) don't seem to like writing to floppies, and especially don't like formatting them.
One thing that seems to help A LOT is to disable the HPET (high performance event timer) in your BIOS (CMOS Setup).
You may find that 50 of your 55 useless disks may now be formatted!
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May 26, 2012 5:12:44 PM

Check the thread date man this is way over 2 years old, most don't even have floppies anymore, it's gone the way of the dinosaur.
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