Why don't floppies work anymore?

By fw2004 ยท 19 replies
Jun 3, 2006
  1. Hi all;
    I am going to assume that everyone is having trouble with floppy diskettes.
    They used to work reliably (even from one machine to another), but since they have been more or less phased out I am unable to get any of them to work on any machine.

    I have several 1.44M diskettes which I have attempted to format as system start-up disks so that I can run Hard Drive Mechanic.
    I have tried all 3 diskettes that I have, and none of them will fomat.
    If I take them to another machine, same thing.

    It appears as though the manufacturers of floppy drives have colluded with the manufacturers of floppy diskettes to create a better market for CD devices.
    Problem is, I am finding it rather bothersome to create bootable CD's.
    The only way seems to be that you must first have a boot image on a 3.5" floppy! So how can I make a bootable CD when I can't get the image?

    I have a USB flash drive and am trying to make it bootable, but not sure that my bios will allow booting from it.

    The machine I want to work with is an older Dell Precision 330 wih bios version A09. I have not found an upgrade for that bios on Dell's site, but have not yet looked at the bios home site.

    Thanks for any help/advice.

  2. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    No real problems here. But remember, floppy disks have a limited shelf life. If you are trying to use old floppy discs, they may be unreadable. This is because the ferrous oxide coating eventually falls off over time.

    I have yet to run accoss a BIOS that won't let you use a floppy. Floppies are part of the core computing architecture dating back to the early days of computing.

    In your case, you are using a USB floppy. This is not the same as a real floppy.
    Your BIOS may not let you boot from a USB device depending how old your computer is.
  3. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    I am sure you checked , but just in case > Did you slide the little file protection button on the Floppy???
    I have done this.
    Anyway Ted.. is right . Just go buy some new ones.
    Floppies are your Friends...
  4. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    and with that bonding agent, the tiny magnets fail to stay on the floppy... therefore no 0s or 1s.. (or north/south :D)

    the drawbacks of magnetic technology....
  5. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

    I hate floopys. :mad: I have problems with nine out of ten of them, I tryed different brands on different drives all with bad luck.

    Nero can make bootable CDs. :p
  6. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    Thank God the floppy is dead. I never had a floppy drive that lasted more than 6 months at a time.
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    even zip discs are basically super floppy drives. They fail also after a few months.
  8. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,186   +469

    Floppies are so inexpensive if any gives any indication of trouble, I toss them. That said, luckily I seldom have trouble with floppy diskettes and so far no floppy drive failures yet. Maybe I don't use them as much as everyone else.
  9. fw2004

    fw2004 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 152

    Can it?
    I am running the trial version of Nero 7 and I have not yet found how to make a bootable CD.

  10. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    I don't find burned CD roms much reliable either.
  11. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    yeh well any sort of medium can distort, disintergrate or dissapear :D. Any if all, the data whether analogue or digital. its just the subject to which one is the most effective, efficient, and relevant to the job at hand..

    nero (in nero6 express, but should be similar): goto the startup page, and select the media (cd/dvd) then data>bootable
  12. fw2004

    fw2004 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 152

    Only reason I need floppies is that during install of Win XP on my Asus system with Raid, I need a floppy to load the Raid drivers. It will not accept a CD made as a bootable "floppy".

    Also, in order to create a bootable CD it appears that one requires a bootable floppy! A Catch-22 or what?
    Perhaps Nero 7 will do it for me. I downloaded the trial version, liked it and found it at a good price so bought the full version.

    Any recommendations for a brand of floppy I should get?

  13. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    floppies are still a neccessary evil due to the fact core computing architecture uses it for BIOS and CMOS updates. This is a legacy leftover from the early days of computing.
  14. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    well certainly not generic al-cheapo's......... :D

    Verbatim, IBM, Imation should be all good.. but in the end i dont think it all matters, just which ones work and which ones dont..
  15. fw2004

    fw2004 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 152

    It's annoying that such a primitive technology should still be used. Nobody has such an old computer that won't boot from a CD, do they?
    I would have expected that Win XP would be advanced enough to allow loading of the RAID drivers from a CD, even if that CD had to be formatted to look like a floppy.
    I surely hope that not only will Vista read a CD to load RAID drivers, but that it will INCLUDE them on it's install CD!

    Does anyone make a "floppy emulator"? Something that would take the place of a floppy drive and allow a USB flash drive to be plugged in and read like a floppy?
    That would be a much more reliable method, IMO.

  16. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

    Intel has a new system that's better than the old BIOS. Apple is using it, but M$ decided to not use it with Vista.
  17. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    This is because at the heart of every computer today, BIOS booting is done at the 8086 level. Every modern PC compatible computer has at the very heart and core 8086 technology which goes back to the late 1970s/ 80s.

    The computer has to be "trained" how to boot itself - before looking at other peripherals. CD roms didn't exist in those days.
  18. fw2004

    fw2004 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 152

    In looking for a "floppy emulator" I only came across combo floppy and card readers, but the card reader was a USB device docked onto the floppy drive, so nothing is different except the convenience of having both drives in a single bay.

    I ended up purchasing two NEC 1.44M floppy drives ($12 each) and a box of Verbatim 2M (1.44M) floppies. If I have trouble with this combo, I'm switching to MAC <g>.

  19. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    why bother? A real floppy drive is cheap and far better, unless you're using a laptop. I would never have a desktop without a floppy drive - they're too essential for legacy and root purposes.
  20. wolfram

    wolfram TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,967   +9

    I prefer a good USB memory. They have waayyy more capacity and reliability than crap floppies...
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