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DavidMil

A Warning About Old Floppy Disks...

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Something that I have discovered (after loosing three old disks). These disks have been

in a sealed plastic box for over 30 years in my attic and I have started looking at them. Here

is the problem that I am having:

 

The disks will read one time but NEVER a second time. In fact the disks are no longer usable

after one time in any of the three 1050's that I use. But they will all read once. I've tried to

recover the data after the first read with Disk Wizard II but each time through the recovery

attempt the disks develop more and more bad sectors. Now these three disks can no longer

be formatted! I don't have this problem with newer disks that I have purchased from Best, so

I know it's not the drives. I guess the material on the disks has corrupted and one pass through

the drive is all it's good for.

So, what I have decided to do is use APE to make an image of each disk without even trying

to load it. This is going to take some time but time is something I have a lot of these days.

 

DavidMil

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One word people, or one acronym "SIO2SD". I used one of Atarimax's SIO2USB to read in all my disks, then they are kept on HDDs, SD cards and such. Floppy reliability has always amazed me, but they will eventually fail.

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I know David's experiences are not unique in this hobby, but ...

 

I first re-discovered about half of my old 80's era floppies from my misspent youth about 4-1/2 years ago. All of them aside from the back (notched) sides of two or three of them imaged just fine, and I'm not 100% sure those back sides were ever actually even formatted and used back in the day. Anyway, a few weeks after finding them again, I bought an SIO2PC device and imaged all my disks with APE. A bit over a year ago I bought a Happy board from Steve at AtariMax and all of my original disks still read just fine in testing. For several months after buying the Happy and installing into one of my drives, I used real floppies extensively and never had an issue with any of my old disks. And bear in mind the following fact, anecdotal though it may be: when I found this cardboard box of my old disks, it had been taped up probably 25 years or so before when Mom packed up all my old crap while I was away at college. She had given that box back to me 5 or 6 years later when she ran across it again and I had just tossed it into storage. "Storage" in the intervening years meant inside any of several climate-controlled closet and then into the garage of my house from 2001 until mid-2014 when I found them again. That garage ranged in temps from probably just above freezing to well over 100 degrees F, depending on the season. Yet all of them still work today. Brands range from TDK to 3M to Memorex and probably several others.

 

Your mileage may vary, of course, and I certainly don't use them daily as I did back in the 80's. But I may be the exception to the general rule. *shrug*

Edited by DrVenkman
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I'm still using disks I know I made or acquired in mid 80s. My only ones that failed were Kodak, and especially Elephant Memory Systems. Then again, mine have always been in a 50-70 degree home and never in real storage. They still get used and I don't do many re-writes, if at all.

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Who made the 5.25 disks for Tandy? I have some of them that work well. In fact, MOST, if not all of the Tandys are good.

 

Edit: I should say "The Tandys that I have seem OK". I can't say anything about other Tandy disks that others may have.

Edited by Kyle22
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My Tandys are great. The only disks I really had issues with are from Pinnacle (an off-brand generic). The oxide would simply flake off.

 

I had minimal issues with Memorex. The lubrication coating would clock the heads. And to get a complete read I would need to have cleaned the whole disk or cleaned the heads several times throughout the read process. Then all was well again.

Edited by Keatah

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And it starts...

The very thing I have been warning about, with people looking at me funny... "shedding"

I'll recount the story I've told countless times...

 

Magnetic media manufacturers, in an effort to increase overall frequency response (and thus overall reliability of the media), started experimenting with various changes to oxides, substrates, and adhesives. Manufacturers found that by even changing the properties of the adhesive, they were able to reduce noise and increase frequency response, starting in the mid 1970s, they started using adhesives with longer, much more elastic polymer chains. This unfortunately had the side effect of making the adhesives much more hydrophyllic, that is, prone to taking on ambient moisture, albeit _very_ slowly. Over the decades, surrounding moisture creeps into the adhesive, making it very gummy, and extremely tacky. At worst case, it can literally cause the oxide to SHED ITSELF from the substrate onto the head, causing an absolute, uncleanable mess, requiring replacement of the recording head.

 

This has been a known problem in the music recording industry, as older multitrack stem recordings are pulled in to be remastered. The solution we all came up with there was very simple:

 

"Baking"

 

Before using the tape, we place it in an oven at approximately 150 to 200 degrees farenheit (if the tape is not on a metal spool, it had to be removed and placed on a metal spool), to drive out; evaporate the moisture from the tape, for roughly 1-2 hours, followed by a 1 hour cooling cycle. This would allow the tape to be read to be digitized, and placed back in its box, with the consequence that the tape would immediately start taking on moisture again, at a much faster rate than before (kind of like a remix of the retrobrighting consequence)

 

A similar technique could be done with floppy disks on wire racks, once they have been removed from their jackets.

 

-Thom

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About 50% of my Apple II disks no longer work. I've gone through all of them and backed up what I could.

 

I do remember that some of my disks started failing even in the 80's. 5.25" floppy disks were not a very robust storage medium.

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I was thinking about the effects of disks stored in plastic with high temperatures and the initial though was that you would get moisture that mixes with the layer on the disk and becomes a sort of ultra thin slime and then I read Tschak909s detailed analysis of recording tape issues and it seems to fit in. To be honest I'm stunned the number of disks out there from those times that still work. I imagine the sort of srchival storage system needed for those disks from day one would have been utterly non cost efficient let alone the forward thinking needed..

 

BUT, it brings me back to what Allan said and I've said so many times...BACK UP THOSE DISKS FOLKS ASAP...2 copies of the archive on 2 different drives preferably in different places..That should see you safe for the most part unless the aliens or us lot wipe out this planet..

 

I'll be vaporised while playing Jumpman one last time :)

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I have several hundred disks from back in the day and at least 95% of them still work. I am guessing some of the ones that don't work probably failed back in the day. I have also been purchasing new old stock disks and using them to save programs. Every one has worked fine and many of them have been used more than once. Sorry to hear you are having this issue. Very frustrating! I agree with a previous post that storing them in the attic where they are subject to heat and humidity is not good.

 

One thing I have noted is that I have a number of modern devices such as a laptop and iPad on my desk that have magnets on them for keeping them closed. I had to make a strong mental note to keep my floppies away from my modern devices.

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Experiences vary... I've had people send me 1000's of disks over the last 2 decades and some batches all work fine, and some all have problems.

 

I would chalk it up to storage conditions and climate. Once you find a batch not working properly, though, just stop unless you want a lot of work cleaning out your disk drive. I've never had one ruined, but I did have to open the drive and scrub the head well to get it off. You get good at spotting them, though. Just take a look under a good light (or magnified light if you have failing eyesight like me). If you see what look like water spots, don't even try it unless you are prepared to go into extreme measures and clean it and your drive well to try to rescue the data.

Edited by R.Cade
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One word people, or one acronym "SIO2SD". I used one of Atarimax's SIO2USB to read in all my disks, then they are kept on HDDs, SD cards and such. Floppy reliability has always amazed me, but they will eventually fail.

 

So do SD cards, CF cards, USB-sticks and other flashmedia. A8 floppy disks are nowadays up to 40 years old and unbelievable, but true, many of them still work! Will ask you again in december 2058 if your SD cards (and other flashmedia) from december 2018 still work... (I don't think so, Tim) ;-)

 

 

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Something that I have discovered (after loosing three old disks). These disks have been

in a sealed plastic box for over 30 years in my attic and I have started looking at them. Here

is the problem that I am having:

 

The disks will read one time but NEVER a second time. In fact the disks are no longer usable

after one time in any of the three 1050's that I use. But they will all read once. I've tried to

recover the data after the first read with Disk Wizard II but each time through the recovery

attempt the disks develop more and more bad sectors. Now these three disks can no longer

be formatted! I don't have this problem with newer disks that I have purchased from Best, so

I know it's not the drives. I guess the material on the disks has corrupted and one pass through

the drive is all it's good for.

So, what I have decided to do is use APE to make an image of each disk without even trying

to load it. This is going to take some time but time is something I have a lot of these days.

 

DavidMil

 

Would you be willing to send me the disks? I'd like to see the failure.

 

Bob

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Experiences vary... I've had people send me 1000's of disks over the last 2 decades and some batches all work fine, and some all have problems.

 

I would chalk it up to storage conditions and climate. Once you find a batch not working properly, though, just stop unless you want a lot of work cleaning out your disk drive. I've never had one ruined, but I did have to open the drive and scrub the head well to get it off. You get good at spotting them, though. Just take a look under a good light (or magnified light if you have failing eyesight like me). If you see what look like water spots, don't even try it unless you are prepared to go into extreme measures and clean it and your drive well to try to rescue the data.

So how do I clean out my drive after just such an event?

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A head cleaner diskette, or rub a lint-free cloth on the head. It isn't a big deal. And floppy drives collect more ambient dust then they do shedding oxide.

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So do SD cards, CF cards, USB-sticks and other flashmedia. A8 floppy disks are nowadays up to 40 years old and unbelievable, but true, many of them still work! Will ask you again in december 2058 if your SD cards (and other flashmedia) from december 2018 still work... (I don't think so, Tim) ;-)

 

Any digital medium needs a plan for data migration. Media ages and degenerates, formats change, equipment to access it comes and goes. Migration to current media and methods is important.

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There is a trick I did, was remove the disk from the envelope. Clean both sides off with Rubbing Alcohol, maybe twice. let it dry. Put it back in the envelope, tape if necessary. Copy everything you can with a disk copy program to a new floppy or transfer to an ATR image. The magnetic media gets oxidized over time, but the content may be still intact.

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I thought isopropyl alcohol would be too harsh for that, great for cleaning stuff off heads etc but does dissolve glue etc, I'd be worried about it taking the layer off entirely..

 

Not sure,more asking if that's the case to be honest...

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So do SD cards, CF cards, USB-sticks and other flashmedia. A8 floppy disks are nowadays up to 40 years old and unbelievable, but true, many of them still work! Will ask you again in december 2058 if your SD cards (and other flashmedia) from december 2018 still work... (I don't think so, Tim) ;-)

 

 

Yes, flash RAM media is likely not as reliable as 5.25" floppies and will not stand the test of time. My point was, once you create digital images of your floppies (ATR or XEX), you can store them on a number of modern day media (Mdisc, DVD, HDD, etc) as a back up. As the next format of current media arises, you just migrate those ATR and XEX files to the new media. You \have a reliable and solid backup. On a practical note, to me, nothing beats the convenience of the SIO2SD for every day use. Every piece of software you need on a device the size of a pack of cigarettes. No 8 lb disk drive and accompanying 4 lb PSU not to mention all the floppies to maintain. I gave up on traditional floppies and rely solely on the SIO2SD and never looked back. For nostalgia, floppies are great, heck even cassettes are great for nostalgia.

I'd love to get my hands on a good working original Sanyo (metal carry handle) 410. Very interesting discussion regarding using mild application of heat to remove moisture. What if you put them in a sealed ammo can with desiccant bags for a few weeks. Might accomplish the same thing and makes a good long term storage technique. For those in Europe, ammo cans are what we gun crazy Americans store all our ammunition to service all our guns.

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I've recently had a batch of CDR's fail with random corroded spots appearing on the top. So, even those have to be remade periodically. Ones that failed were all done in maybe 2009, so not quite 10yrs. Only one batch so far...

 

So far, I've found the floppies to outlast the drives by far, especially my 1050's lol

Edited by zylon

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