I am using my external USB 3 1/2 floppy drive to open and copy data from my old floppy disks to CD's and thumb drives. I am able to open and read all of the floppy discs just fine, except for one. I know there is data on it, but it apparently wasn't formatted originally. When I try it on my Windows 7 laptop and try to open drive A, I get the message "You need to format the disk in drive A: before you can use it". When I try it on my Windows XP pc, I get "The disk in drive A is not formatted".

Problem: I need the data that is on this disc. I can't copy the disc without opening it first. I can't open the disc without it being formatted. I can't format the disc without losing the data that is on it, which I need.

Any solutions?

Thank you,

6 answers Last reply
More about format disk loosing data
  1. You can't, use data recovery software such as EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.
    I'm not 100% sure it supports floppy disks though.
  2. Your best solution would be to back up your data before formatting your disk.
  3. Don't use floppy disks any more. They are of very poor quality these days because of the low demand. If you must use them, they should only be written to once.
  4. Its gone life will move on. In the future keep up to date on technology, and get a better backup system into play.
  5. IF you are correct in saying that the floppy contains data, then is most certainly HAS BEEN FORMATTED! No data could be written until the formatting was done. Do NOT Format it now, as you already know!

    As happens often, the error message you are seeing is misleading. The problem is NOT that it has not been formatted. The problem is that the drive cannot make any sense of the data it is reading. That indicates corruption of some of the basic data in the Directory and FAT tables of the disk, OR actual physical damage to a part of those tracks. Thus the disk and its data are not readable using "normal" procedures.

    As others have said, the solution is some data recovery software, and it MUST be capable of working with a floppy diskette and drive. Often these systems first make a copy of the entire diskette's contents to another device (like a folder in your HDD), then go about trying to make sense of the data. Often only a portion of the key system files (Directory and FAT) are damaged / corrupted, and the software can recover everything else. Sometimes you lose a file, but not all the disk's data. If you're lucky, the system might even be able to deduce where the "lost" file(s) are on the diskette even without the entire Directory or FAT info, and recover the file, too.
  6. I would try one of two things. First the easiest method for most people is to try a 3rd party recovery tool, there are many free ones out there that do a very good job. The other option you have is to try and use a Linux distro. If you have access to a linux machine they can be of great help as they typically have less complex procedures than windows does to get straight to data. Less complex procedures means fewer chances for false errors along the way. However if some of the initial sectors of the drive are truly corrupt then linux may not fare any better than windows.
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