Floppy disks kill my drive

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Floppy disks kill my drive

Postby jonaszoon » 2008-8-09 @ 23:15

For this summer I had planned to make a final, complete backup of all my floppy disks collected over the years.

I started off with the 5 1/4" DD disks, which range from 16 to 22 years old, so initially I was quite pessimistic about their "survival". However, out of the 100 disks, only 5 had serious errors (excluding copy protection stuff), so I was very pleased with the result.

With the previous result in my mind, I enthustiastically began backupping the 3,5" DD/HD disks, 8-18 years old. However, my enthusiasm was soon tempered; 1 out of 3 disks had bad sectors (something I had expected earlier) and a pretty strange phenomenon emerged: Certain disks (mostly TDK branded) triggered a horrible grinding noise, as if the drive was in need of oil. It seemed like the drive motor couldn't keep up or something, so as soon as I heared the noise (it often began upon insertion of the disk), I broke off the backup process. After a while, I discovered that the contents of the "grinding" disks could be listed if tried multiple times. Unfortunately, this led me to reckless behaviour, like forcing the backup tool to retry and retry and retry. So obviously at one point, the floppy drive stopped responding, seemingly for good.

My question is: What is wrong with those disks? Is there any way to fix them? They have no remarkable visual differences and are not the oldest among the disks. Also they behave the same in every other floppy drive I tried and did not during an earlier (partial) backup in 1996 (I haven't used the disks since).
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Re: Floppy disks kill my drive

Postby leileilol » 2008-8-09 @ 23:30

There are floppy disk drive cleaning kits with special cleaning floppies, you could search for those. It's what i've done in the 90s, though i'm uncertain on obtaining such kits these days.
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Re: Floppy disks kill my drive

Postby MiniMax » 2008-8-10 @ 08:58

Maybe those disks where formatted in a drive that had badly aligned heads? If it is a brand of disks you bought in a particular time-frame perhaps they where also used with a particular machine? And if your current drive has its heads aligned correctly it might have difficulties reading the tracks, requiring several retries etc to get a good read. I guess it is the retries that you hear as "grinding".
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Re: Floppy disks kill my drive

Postby jonaszoon » 2008-8-10 @ 19:01

leileilol wrote:There are floppy disk drive cleaning kits with special cleaning floppies, you could search for those. It's what i've done in the 90s, though i'm uncertain on obtaining such kits these days.


The drive was hardly used and the disks acted the same way in three other drives I had available, so I don't think it would help.

MiniMax wrote:Maybe those disks where formatted in a drive that had badly aligned heads? If it is a brand of disks you bought in a particular time-frame perhaps they where also used with a particular machine? And if your current drive has its heads aligned correctly it might have difficulties reading the tracks, requiring several retries etc to get a good read. I guess it is the retries that you hear as "grinding".


A good point, because the majority of the disks were formatted in the same 386SX PC. However, what I failed to mention in my previous post, is that my backup project in 1996 used a different computer / floppy drive, one that had no problems with the disks back then. Also, I know a bit how a badly aligned drive sounds (the 5 1/4" drive went out of alignment at some point) and this "grinding" sound is a lot worse. It sounds like how a microscopic trainwreck would sound.

I recall that my Commodore 64 drive would make a similiar sound, but not that extreme, just a bit squeaky at times. Could it perhaps be that the disks are slipping? Somehow I should record the noise, but I rather do so without making more casualties.
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