VOGONS


First post, by 386SX

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Hi,
I'd like to ask what do you prefer in your retro machines for the floppy disk problem; most of the disks I find are not good anymore and I find even difficult to trust even the new ones someone still sell. Not to mention if I have to flash a bios eeprom and hoping the rom file into it will end up flashed correctly.
Are floppy disks still built nowdays even in low numbers or the not cheap emulator is the only way? I'm talking of the 3,5" ones but also the 5,25" disks.
Thanks

Reply 1 of 19, by firage

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Well, I use real drives and floppies. I don't write many floppies and they're only for temporary use. Wouldn't trust them for storage. Just have to be able to read any physical floppies I come across.

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Reply 3 of 19, by maxtherabbit

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it is very possible to have a 99% reliable floppy system in the modern era, but it requires a substantial investment of time, effort and testing

Reply 4 of 19, by PTherapist

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Real floppies for situations where I have to boot from a boot floppy, ie. a DOS boot disk on PC or Relokick on the Amiga + a couple of non-WHDLoad games. I still have a bunch of working disks that I can reuse that are in decent condition.

But for general usage, large HDD or CF storage & an Ethernet card for file transfer is much preferable.

I do have a Gotek which I flashed with the FlashFloppy firmware, but I haven't got it installed in any of my systems at present. I was going to use it in my XT/8088 build, but the XTIDE ROM & it's virtual serial floppy feature is more convenient there.

If/when I get an Atari ST next year, my answer will change as I plan to use the Gotek there, rather than having to deal with real disks.

Reply 7 of 19, by will1384

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I have lived were I do now for over 30 years, and unfortunately I live down a dusty gravel road that has a fair amount of traffic on it, floppies don't live very long were I live, the very fine silt like dust gets into them and causes scratches and that kills the floppies, I "might" get 5 or 10 uses out of a floppy before it's dead, I had to resort to storing floppies in zip-lock bags and blowing out the floppy drive before every use, I also had to remove the carpet in the house and found almost an inch of silt/sand under the carpet, it was nasty, and yes we have, and used, a vacuum cleaner but that did not help, even now with no carpet and air filters in every room there is still a lot of dust, I got a CD burner in the late 1990s and never looked back.

I have upgraded a few computer BIOSs with a boot CD, it's not has simple has a floppy but it does work, and what I have started doing on all my older computers and laptops is use SD cards in place of hard drives and that makes it easier to transfer files over, I also make use of a "SD to SD Card Extension Cable" when ever I can to allow easy access to the SD card, or a 3D printed drive bay housing for the SD to IDE adapter that allows easy access to the SD card.

Reply 8 of 19, by kixs

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AlessandroB wrote on 2020-05-31, 16:25:

what program do you use to test floppies sector by sector? So you have total security that works 100%

I use Checkit. It has floppy diskette test (read and write) among other hardware tests.

If the floppy is empty, just format it again with /u switch.

Otherwise I use floppies mostly for boot disks and a few necessary utils.

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Reply 9 of 19, by canthearu

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My tool of choice:

Format a: /u /q

Any disk that isn't 100% ok gets tossed without mercy.

Switching disks frequently between systems that I am testing and rebuilding, as well as my USB floppy drive on my Windows 10 machine, tends to regularly break the format of the disks. So frequent reformats do occur with disks that I am switching around frequently. The odd disk gets scratched up or dies permanently due to use.

I have maybe 200-300 1.44meg floppies, so I am not in any danger of running out soon.

Reply 10 of 19, by derSammler

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canthearu wrote on 2020-05-31, 16:31:

Any disk that isn't 100% ok gets tossed without mercy.

I hope you try every disk with a sector 0 error on a second drive, as you may toss perfectly good disks otherwise. A slight misalignment of a drive can give you a sector 0 error if the disk was formatted with a different drive, since sector 0 is tested by reading before formatting is started.

Reply 11 of 19, by texterted

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I have a Gotek in my Athlon machine, with about ten permanent disk images on there.

Cheers

Ted

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Reply 13 of 19, by 386SX

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AlessandroB wrote on 2020-05-31, 16:25:

what program do you use to test floppies sector by sector? So you have total security that works 100%

First of all thanks for the many answers, I'm not using specific programs but from Win 8.1 and a USB floppy drive with WinImage program and many floppy end up having bad sectors, the usual loop sound etc.. etc.. I don't think it's the usb drive, I suspect really most floppy I found are gone. I was following some ebay boxed new floppies but prices are a bit on the expensive side, anyway maybe it's worth having at least a box of them new to try.

Reply 14 of 19, by Mister Xiado

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It's a personal law for me that every motherboard with a floppy connector has to have at least one floppy drive, otherwise it's not being properly utilized. My Core 2 Quad system running Windows 7 has both 3.5" and 5.25" drives, though lamentably, I must alternate between them via BIOS, as the system only supports a single drive of any format and configuration at a time. I've got a USB 3.5" drive I use when needed, like when I need to make a disk for an old system in a hurry.
My main desktop has no legacy ports or connectors, barring a PS/2 port and the option to add a serial port. At least I still have a DVD burner in it, which is funny, because I had to use it to burn a Windows 10 DVD because Windows 7 was having a massive stroke on day 1, trying to operate with my new processor and display hardware.
I have no reason not to go with Gotek going forward, since the price of internal 3.5" floppy drives has skyrocketed up from the usual $8-$10 for NIB drives, to well over $50. I still have a buttload of NIB floppy disks, both 3.5" and 5.25", but I already have disks written with the software I would normally use them for, and thus don't really need to use new disks for anything.

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Reply 15 of 19, by wiretap

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will1384 wrote on 2020-05-31, 16:28:

I have lived were I do now for over 30 years, and unfortunately I live down a dusty gravel road that has a fair amount of traffic on it, floppies don't live very long were I live, the very fine silt like dust gets into them and causes scratches and that kills the floppies, I "might" get 5 or 10 uses out of a floppy before it's dead, I had to resort to storing floppies in zip-lock bags and blowing out the floppy drive before every use, I also had to remove the carpet in the house and found almost an inch of silt/sand under the carpet, it was nasty, and yes we have, and used, a vacuum cleaner but that did not help, even now with no carpet and air filters in every room there is still a lot of dust, I got a CD burner in the late 1990s and never looked back.

I think I would be moving or sealing up the house better at least. Fugitive dust and silicates are no joke in your lungs. I know a few people that lived near a quarry for most of their life, and they have terrible lung issues. One was diagnosed with COPD and never even smoked.

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Reply 16 of 19, by will1384

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wiretap wrote on 2020-05-31, 22:14:
will1384 wrote on 2020-05-31, 16:28:

I have lived were I do now for over 30 years, and unfortunately I live down a dusty gravel road that has a fair amount of traffic on it, floppies don't live very long were I live, the very fine silt like dust gets into them and causes scratches and that kills the floppies, I "might" get 5 or 10 uses out of a floppy before it's dead, I had to resort to storing floppies in zip-lock bags and blowing out the floppy drive before every use, I also had to remove the carpet in the house and found almost an inch of silt/sand under the carpet, it was nasty, and yes we have, and used, a vacuum cleaner but that did not help, even now with no carpet and air filters in every room there is still a lot of dust, I got a CD burner in the late 1990s and never looked back.

I think I would be moving or sealing up the house better at least. Fugitive dust and silicates are no joke in your lungs. I know a few people that lived near a quarry for most of their life, and they have terrible lung issues. One was diagnosed with COPD and never even smoked.

Yep, my dad now has COPD, but he was also a smoker for a few years, we keep the windows and doors shut now, and use large air filters, but only started doing that in the late 1990s early 2000s after we got an AC unit and could cool the house without the windows open, I grew up with out AC in the 1980s and 1990s, something I have noticed with dust in my computers is that with the side off the computer you tend to get less dust in the computer, and that I have to blow the computers out with compressed air about every 6 months even with the house air filters running 24/7, also the 486 desktop that I had in the mid-1990s needed hardly any cleaning, but over time computers used more fans for cooling and needed to be cleaned more, more fans = more dust.

Reply 17 of 19, by canthearu

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derSammler wrote on 2020-05-31, 16:48:
canthearu wrote on 2020-05-31, 16:31:

Any disk that isn't 100% ok gets tossed without mercy.

I hope you try every disk with a sector 0 error on a second drive, as you may toss perfectly good disks otherwise. A slight misalignment of a drive can give you a sector 0 error if the disk was formatted with a different drive, since sector 0 is tested by reading before formatting is started.

Of course I do. I do what I can to save floppies that start acting up. Most of the time it is just the old computers taking a dump on the disks.

I had a lot of trouble with my HP PC305 misidentifying HD and DD 3.5inch disks and trashing them until I realized that I needed to use the exact MS-DOS that came with these systems. The floppy system is slightly custom to allow 3.5inch HD floppy disks on an XT class system. So back to MS-DOS 3.3 it goes.

Reply 18 of 19, by aha2940

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I use floppy drives on my DOS and win98/XP machines, however I'd rather have a couple gotek drives and be done with it, but they are not cheap, and importing + shipping fees make them kind of an unreasonable buy right now.

Reply 19 of 19, by chinny22

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Mister Xiado wrote on 2020-05-31, 21:51:

It's a personal law for me that every motherboard with a floppy connector has to have at least one floppy drive, otherwise it's not being properly utilized.

I also follow this law 😀
Although I've gone over to Gotek drives.
Only really gets used for boot disks, raid/sata drivers for NT-XP setups and maybe a quick file copy on a new setup that I don't have networking available on yet.
So even though they don't get used much the fact that I've everything on 1 USB stick and 100% success rate makes them well worth it, specially if you live in a dusty location.
As I'm not trying to do anything fancy with mine they are still using the standard firmware.

I do have 3 real drives.
in my Dell XPS T500 as is has an announcing face plate labia over the actual drive.
My Dx4 has both a real and a Gotek.
My childhood DX2 as after 20 something years the look and missing sound during post just wasn't right with the gotek