What’s your feedback on the 3 1/2” floppies?

By ravisunny2 · 6 replies
Apr 21, 2007
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  1. I have found the 3 1/2” floppies (1.44 MB), to be notoriously unreliable. There have been numerous instances of failure for a single read-write.

    In 1999, when I got my P-III, I had the older 5 1/4” fdd installed too, and encountered numerous raised eyebrows.

    The 1.2 MB floppies were far more reliable. But now they aren’t even available in the market.

    Now that the cd writer is affordable, I’ve installed one, and my backups are safe again.

    But a couple of problem still linger

    1) What if I want to flash my BIOS ?

    2) So far, it seems to me, that the only way to make a cd bootable, is to use a fdd (at least in Win 98SE).

    I sure hope I’m wrong on both counts, and that the fdd can be dispensed with altogether.
  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    When you need to flash your BIOS (and there is no OS native tool available), you make a bootable CD using a floppy image. The CDs ability to emulate a floppy is one of the major factors in the demise of the latter. You can also use premade DOS-booting CDs and a USB flash drive for example.

    Yes, you do need a floppy disk or an image file to create custom bootable CDs, but you can use a virtual floppy disk device if your OS-computer does not have one built in (Windows).

    In my experience, properly kept floppies are pretty reliable. At least not a lot worse than el cheapo CD-recordables that start going flaky after a couple of years. Not to mention flash drives that start failing more and more often as the technology gets cheaper and the chip densities increase.
  3. Envergure

    Envergure TS Booster Posts: 134

    I've never even heard of a flash drive failing, except when people are stupid and drop them or shock the jack.

    I've also never needed a floppy to boot from a CD. I've booted to two Linux distributions and Windows XP from CDs with no trouble at all.

    As for 3.5" floppies, they should be beaten, stepped on, poisoned, electrocuted and burned! I've never used the 5.25" ones much, but I've heard they're far worse than the smaller variety.

    Rewritable CDs probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but they stink. They don't write properly unless you get some kind of X-treme CD-RW drive that probably would cost nearly a hundred dollars! Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, but I've had nothing but trouble from them.

    If you want to get a file from one place to another, the best way is to email it to yourself. I did that with homework files, but then the stupid school board network admins blocked my email client. I sent them an email, complaining. They never replied. Anyway, the only other good way is to use a USB key. Granted, key density increasing is a problem; Would it be so hard for the companied to just make them bigger?
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Oh my. I see you haven't been hanging around in Storage & Networking or Other Hardware then, there are at least 2 a week.

    Never used those. I've used DD (800Kb I believe) and HD (1.44Mb), had problems with both. Not sure on the DD but the HD ones don't seem to age well, every once in a while I'll need one and almost always the one I dig up has something wrong with it.
  5. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 1,986   +12

    Sorry if this sounds silly, but can we use, say, Nero, to burn onto these DOS-booting CDs (retaining their bootability) ?

    My 1.2 MB floppies were very reliable (except for the time there was a fungus attack), but my experience with the 1.44 MB was dismal. Maybe, I was just plain unlucky.
  6. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Well, you could extract the floppy image from the CD and then use the same image to create your own custom CD.. My point with these premade ones was that you don't need to burn a custom CD at all. Download and burn the .iso, all your own files would be on a USB drive that you access from the DOS prompt.

    You may be interested in the UBCD: http://www.ultimatebootcd.com
    They have guides on how to customise thing for your own needs too.
  7. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 1,986   +12

    Thanks for the link, Nodsu.

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