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Floppy Discs Being Destroyed?

Hello, All.

   Yesterday I encountered a problem with a computer at work. It runs
MS-DOS 6.2 .

   I tried to copy files to various 3.5 floppy discs but kept getting
errors. The discs would not read and would not allow reformating. I kept
getting "Invalid Media or Track `0' Bad" messages.

   I ran a virus scanner with signature files only three days old and
everything appears to be OK.

   My DR-DOS laptop could not read the discs either, but it could reformat
them. I can take the reformatted discs and copy files to & from them via
DR-DOS but if I "FORMAT /Q", I get

	"Existing Disk Format is Different. Continue?"

   I press "Enter" and sometimes it can Quick Format, while other
times it says "Bad Track in System Space. Disk Unusable".

   I can still format it as usual and save and copy files to and from the
disc but only with DR-DOS on the laptop.

   What might be happening with the work computer that it's rendering
floppy disc tracks bad?

         Richard Bonner
http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/
0
Richard
1/19/2006 4:27:15 PM
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On Thu, 19 Jan 2006 12:27:15 -0400, Richard Bonner <ak621@chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:

>   What might be happening with the work computer that it's rendering
>floppy disc tracks bad?

Out of alignment?

-- 
Charles Dye     raster@highfiber.com

0
Charles
1/19/2006 5:09:08 PM
On Thu, 19 Jan 2006 12:27:15 -0400, Richard Bonner
<ak621@chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:

>Hello, All.
>
>   Yesterday I encountered a problem with a computer at work. It runs
>MS-DOS 6.2 .
>
>   I tried to copy files to various 3.5 floppy discs but kept getting
>errors. The discs would not read and would not allow reformating. I kept
>getting "Invalid Media or Track `0' Bad" messages.
>
>   I ran a virus scanner with signature files only three days old and
>everything appears to be OK.
>
>   My DR-DOS laptop could not read the discs either, but it could reformat
>them. I can take the reformatted discs and copy files to & from them via
>DR-DOS but if I "FORMAT /Q", I get
>
>	"Existing Disk Format is Different. Continue?"
>
>   I press "Enter" and sometimes it can Quick Format, while other
>times it says "Bad Track in System Space. Disk Unusable".
>
>   I can still format it as usual and save and copy files to and from the
>disc but only with DR-DOS on the laptop.
>
>   What might be happening with the work computer that it's rendering
>floppy disc tracks bad?
>

Clogged or damaged head would account for the "damaged track" error.
In my experience, when this starts happening, it's time to replace the
drive before it destroys something important.

One way to test is to format the floppy and fill it up on the good
machine.  Then copy *.* to nul on the questionable one.  If the dist
then won't read on the good machine, the other one is physically
damaging the media.

-- 
T.E.D. (tdavis@gearbox.maem.umr.edu)
SPAM filter: Messages to this address *must* contain "T.E.D." 
somewhere in the body or they will be automatically rejected.
0
Ted
1/19/2006 9:28:49 PM
On 2006-01-19 Charles Dye said:

   > Richard Bonner wrote:
   >
   > > What might be happening with the work computer that it's
   > > rendering floppy disc tracks bad?
   >
   > Out of alignment?

Or perhaps gunk has accumulated on the heads over time.  Try
a thorough head-cleaning first.

If that doesn't solve the problem, try re-seating the floppy
drive cable connectors -- both at the drive end, and at the
controller end.

Once in awhile, a thin film of oxidation can form on the pins,
and interfere with electrical conductivity.

Just unplug and re-plug the connectors from/to the drive and
the controller a few times.  This is usually sufficient to
dislodge any oxidation.

If cleaning the heads and re-seating the cable connectors
doesn't fix the problem, then it's probably time to replace
the drive.

Drives with misaligned or damaged heads aren't readily repair-
able, so drive replacement is your most expeditious option.

Good luck!

0
DOS
1/20/2006 12:13:03 AM
On Fri, 20 Jan 2006 00:13:03 +0000 (UTC), DOS Guy <me@privacy.net>
wrote the following to comp.os.msdos.misc:

>
> On 2006-01-19 Charles Dye said:
>
>    > Richard Bonner wrote:
>    >
>    > > What might be happening with the work computer that it's
>    > > rendering floppy disc tracks bad?
>    >
>    > Out of alignment?
>
> Or perhaps gunk has accumulated on the heads over time.  Try
> a thorough head-cleaning first.

Floppy drives are pretty cheap these days (about �6/$10), so it would
probably be easiest and less fuss to replace it without trying to clean it
or take it apart and rebuild it. A drive that is old enough to cause
problems like this is likely to be about to die anyway.

mh.
-- 
From address is a blackhole. Reply-to address is valid.

"People are animals too."
0
Marcus
1/20/2006 12:44:58 AM
Richard Bonner <ak621@chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:
[deleted]

>    What might be happening with the work computer that it's rendering
> floppy disc tracks bad?

  As others mentioned, probably the drive (at work) is bad (alignment,
dirty heads, otherwise defective).

  However, I have also had these problems with two boxes of brand-new,
pre-formatted diskettes (of a good brand, TDK). That was probably a
manufacturing/formatting problem. The problems re-occured some time
after re-formatting, probably because re-formatting only reformats the
tracks themselves, not the areas just beside the tracks. So if you have
similar problems, just toss the diskettes.
0
Frank
1/20/2006 10:40:27 AM
>So if you have similar problems, just toss the diskettes.

Depending upon inclination, before tossing you can try the refrigerator magnet 
erasure followed by reformating.  Be sure to do both sides. Srong fridge magnets
are best, not the thin flexible sheets -- those are too weak to do 3.5" disks
where the hard shell holds the magent away from the media inside.

If you have LOTS of disks to bulk erase, get a 200W to 240W soldering gun, remove the
tip and replace with a loop made from most of a wire coat hanger -- be sure to strip
the paint off where it is inserted into the solder gun so you have good electrical contact.
Form the loop into a long, skinny flattened oval that you can easily drop disks through
one at a time.  Make sure you press the trigger so current is flowing in the loop as the
floppies are dropped through.  ALternatively you can run the loop over the surface of
the floppies.
0
Kevin
1/20/2006 2:33:01 PM
***   Thanks for the tips, everyone. I have already reseated the
cables but have not tried to clean the heads. Since I have plenty of spare
drives, I shall replace this one.

   Can anyone suggest why a bad drive would only destroy track `0' ?
				________


   Now to answer a specific comment:

Kevin G. Rhoads wrote:
> >So if you have similar problems, just toss the diskettes.

> Depending upon inclination, before tossing you can try the refrigerator
> magnet erasure followed by reformating.  Be sure to do both sides.

***   Being in the entertainent business and having a large music system,
I have an actual semi-professional bulk eraser. I have often revived
floppy discs with this method.


(Snip home-made bulk eraser instructions)
> Make sure you press the trigger so current is flowing in the
> loop as the floppies are dropped through.  ALternatively you can run
> the loop over the surface of the floppies. 

   For anyone using a bulk eraser, be sure to separate the floppy or tape
from the unit while current is still flowing. Turning off the eraser while
the floppy/tape is in proximity can place a turn-off pulse on the
magnetic storage device as the field collapses. 

   Conversely, turn on the eraser current before bringing magnetic storage
devices into its magnetic field. 

         Richard Bonner
http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/
0
ak621
1/20/2006 3:14:26 PM
Richard Bonner wrote:

>    Yesterday I encountered a problem with a computer at work. It runs
> MS-DOS 6.2 .

....snip...
>    My DR-DOS laptop could not read the discs either, but it could reformat
> them. I can take the reformatted discs and copy files to & from them via
> DR-DOS but if I "FORMAT /Q", I get
> 
>         "Existing Disk Format is Different. Continue?"

What "data" do the flpy boot sectors contain, on the "destroyed" flpys
???
Std "flpy" boot sector data, or ?else? ???

E.
0
0_Qed
1/20/2006 4:26:24 PM
0_Qed wrote:
> Richard Bonner wrote:

> >    Yesterday I encountered a problem with a computer at work. It runs
> > MS-DOS 6.2 .
> ...snip...

> >    My DR-DOS laptop could not read the discs either, but it could reformat
> > them. I can take the reformatted discs and copy files to & from them via
> > DR-DOS but if I "FORMAT /Q", I get
> > 
> >         "Existing Disk Format is Different. Continue?"

> What "data" do the flpy boot sectors contain, on the "destroyed" flpys
> ???
> Std "flpy" boot sector data, or ?else? ???

> E.

***   I don't know. I could not read that track. I did not try a disc
editor, but assume it would not give me any information if the track
could not be read.
				________


   I fixed the problem by replacing the drive with another. I tried
writing and reading from the same floppy discs and even "FORMAT /Q". All
works as it should. 

   A thankyou to the comp.os.msdos.misc hardware gurus!

         Richard Bonner
http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/
0
ak621
1/20/2006 7:22:00 PM
On Fri, 20 Jan 2006 15:14:26 +0000 (UTC), ak621@chebucto.ns.ca
(Richard Bonner) wrote:

>   Can anyone suggest why a bad drive would only destroy track `0' ?

If the head drive isn't working, that could well be the only track it
has access to.  On the other hand, if the entire disk were trashed,
the software would still fail at track 0 since that is the one it has
to read to do anything else.

-- 
T.E.D. (tdavis@gearbox.maem.umr.edu)
SPAM filter: Messages to this address *must* contain "T.E.D." 
somewhere in the body or they will be automatically rejected.
0
Ted
1/20/2006 9:12:18 PM
On Fri, 20 Jan 2006 15:14:26 +0000 (UTC), Richard Bonner <ak621@chebucto.ns.ca>
wrote the following to comp.os.msdos.misc:

> ***   Thanks for the tips, everyone. I have already reseated the
> cables but have not tried to clean the heads. Since I have plenty of spare
> drives, I shall replace this one.
>
>    Can anyone suggest why a bad drive would only destroy track `0' ?

It probably destroys more than just track 0, but the first track is used to
align the disk and contains the boot sector, FATs and other system
information (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q140418/). Any track other than
0 can be marked as bad in the FAT, but if there's nowhere to store the FAT,
you can't store anything else on the disk.

mh.
-- 
From address is a blackhole. Reply-to address is valid.

"People are animals too."
0
Marcus
1/20/2006 9:34:55 PM
On 2006-01-20 Richard Bonner said:

   > Thanks for the tips, everyone. I have already reseated the
   > cables but have not tried to clean the heads. Since I have
   > plenty of spare drives, I shall replace this one.
   >
   > Can anyone suggest why a bad drive would only destroy track `0' ?


In all likelihood, track 0 was not "destroyed."  If the drive
is flaky, and is simply unable to *read* track 0, the standard
DOS error message 'Track 0 bad' is returned.

That doesn't mean that the *disk* is necessarily bad.

You often get the same result when you try to access a perfectly
good floppy disk that has a non-DOS format on it (a disk formatted
under Linux, CP/M-86, QNX, etc., etc.).

If you bulk-erase those floppy disks, and then reformat them
in a known-good drive, I'll betcha you'll find that they're
perfectly fine.

0
DOS
1/21/2006 12:35:49 AM
Marcus Houlden <spam@nukesoft.co.uk> wrote:
> On Fri, 20 Jan 2006 15:14:26 +0000 (UTC), Richard Bonner <ak621@chebucto.ns.ca>
> wrote the following to comp.os.msdos.misc:
> 
> > ***   Thanks for the tips, everyone. I have already reseated the
> > cables but have not tried to clean the heads. Since I have plenty of spare
> > drives, I shall replace this one.
> >
> >    Can anyone suggest why a bad drive would only destroy track `0' ?
> 
> It probably destroys more than just track 0, but the first track is used to
> align the disk and contains the boot sector, FATs and other system
> information (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q140418/). Any track other than
> 0 can be marked as bad in the FAT, but if there's nowhere to store the FAT,
> you can't store anything else on the disk.

  Not only that, but (as the above mentioned article also mentions) the
first sector of the first track also contains information on what *low
level* format this medium uses, i.e. number of bytes per sector, number
of sectors per track, number of sectors and number of sides. Without
this information, the drive/system can not even read the other sectors,
let alone interpret them.
0
Frank
1/21/2006 2:40:31 PM
Kevin G. Rhoads <kgrhoads@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> >So if you have similar problems, just toss the diskettes.
> 
> Depending upon inclination, before tossing you can try the
> refrigerator magnet erasure followed by reformating.  Be sure to do
> both sides. Srong fridge magnets are best, not the thin flexible
> sheets -- those are too weak to do 3.5" disks where the hard shell
> holds the magent away from the media inside.

  Also make sure you erase, softly turn the disk a little bit and then
erase again, because the magnet probably does not work (well enough)
through the metal door, which leaves the disk partially unerased which
is often worse (more error=prone) than a non-erased disk.
0
Frank
1/21/2006 2:40:32 PM
On Thu, 19 Jan 2006 12:27:15 -0400, Richard Bonner
<ak621@chebucto.ns.ca> put finger to keyboard and composed:

>   Yesterday I encountered a problem with a computer at work. It runs
>MS-DOS 6.2 .
>
>   I tried to copy files to various 3.5 floppy discs but kept getting
>errors. The discs would not read and would not allow reformating. I kept
>getting "Invalid Media or Track `0' Bad" messages.

If the diskette has been physically damaged by a clogged head, you
will probably see circular scratch marks if you retract the metal
shutter and rotate the hub.

- Franc Zabkar
-- 
Please remove one 'i' from my address when replying by email.
0
Franc
1/22/2006 7:43:36 PM

On Thu, 19 Jan 2006, Richard Bonner wrote:

> Hello, All.
>
>   Yesterday I encountered a problem with a computer at work. It runs
> MS-DOS 6.2 .
>
>   I tried to copy files to various 3.5 floppy discs but kept getting
> errors. The discs would not read and would not allow reformating. I kept
> getting "Invalid Media or Track `0' Bad" messages.
>
>   I ran a virus scanner with signature files only three days old and
> everything appears to be OK.
>
>   My DR-DOS laptop could not read the discs either, but it could reformat
> them. I can take the reformatted discs and copy files to & from them via
> DR-DOS but if I "FORMAT /Q", I get

Can you make a DR-DOS boot disk with DR-DOS's format, chkdsk, command.com 
and use it to boot the box at work and see if there may be corrrupted code 
on the work OS's format, etc., functions?

If you format on the laptop, can you do chkdsk on the laptop to see if you 
have all space available? Take that disk to work and see what MS-DOS's 
chkdsk says? And, when booting from the DR-D0S boot disk what the DR-DOS 
chkdsk says, and if the copy & format still don't work?

If you have a disk editor (eg. Norton's for DOS, or Xtree for either DOS 
or Win3.1), can you read and compare the bit pattern over some part of the 
beginning of the first track?

I recall reading about some weird virus that re-writes the media 
descriptor so it looks like something that can't be written to and it 
drives people nuts. And, the virus can't be found with the usual AV 
packages. Just a thought.

> 	"Existing Disk Format is Different. Continue?"
>
>   I press "Enter" and sometimes it can Quick Format, while other
> times it says "Bad Track in System Space. Disk Unusable".

If its on the same disk, you might have an electrical intermittent. Bad 
news. Or, maybe the head(s) have dirt grains that move around from one 
disk to another?

>   I can still format it as usual and save and copy files to and from the
> disc but only with DR-DOS on the laptop.

Again, see if you can run DR-DOS on the work box using a boot disk and see 
if your problem stays or goes away.

>   What might be happening with the work computer that it's rendering
> floppy disc tracks bad?

Keep us informed about what you find. Another possible option: make a 
linux-on-a-floppy boot disk (I think www.tomsrtbt.com, or something like 
that) and run the linux fdisk which is much more powerful on the formated 
3.5 disks and see if the linux fdisk can recognize the DOS 
partition/format (it should, and should report it to you).

>         Richard Bonner
> http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/
>
0
Straydog
1/23/2006 11:17:40 PM
Marcus Houlden wrote:
> On Fri, 20 Jan 2006 15:14:26 +0000 (UTC), Richard Bonner <ak621@chebucto.ns.ca>
> wrote the following to comp.os.msdos.misc:

> >    Can anyone suggest why a bad drive would only destroy track `0' ?

> It probably destroys more than just track 0, but the first track is used to
> align the disk and contains the boot sector, FATs and other system
> information (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q140418/). Any track other than
> 0 can be marked as bad in the FAT, but if there's nowhere to store the FAT,
> you can't store anything else on the disk.
>
> mh.

***   Good points. However, if I formatted a disc on my laptop and copied
files to it, it could be read by the other drive. The problem only seemed
to occur during writes.

   I have since reformatted all the discs I thought were destroyed. All
continues to work as desired. 

         Richard Bonner
http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/

0
ak621
1/24/2006 4:53:31 PM
DOS Guy wrote:

> On 2006-01-20 Richard Bonner said:
>    > Can anyone suggest why a bad drive would only destroy track `0' ?

> In all likelihood, track 0 was not "destroyed."  If the drive
> is flaky, and is simply unable to *read* track 0, the standard
> DOS error message 'Track 0 bad' is returned.

> That doesn't mean that the *disk* is necessarily bad.

***   In this case, it seemed to be the case because those discs were not
readable on my laptop until they had been reformatted on that laptop.


> If you bulk-erase those floppy disks, and then reformat them
> in a known-good drive, I'll betcha you'll find that they're
> perfectly fine.

***   I didn't have my bulk eraser here at work, so I just reformatted
them on the replaced drive and they are fine.

         Richard Bonner
http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/
0
ak621
1/24/2006 4:56:00 PM
Frank Slootweg wrote:
> Kevin G. Rhoads <kgrhoads@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> > >So if you have similar problems, just toss the diskettes.
> > 
> > Depending upon inclination, before tossing you can try the
> > refrigerator magnet erasure followed by reformating.  Be sure to do
> > both sides. Srong fridge magnets are best, not the thin flexible
> > sheets -- those are too weak to do 3.5" disks where the hard shell
> > holds the magent away from the media inside.

>   Also make sure you erase, softly turn the disk a little bit and then
> erase again, because the magnet probably does not work (well enough)
> through the metal door, which leaves the disk partially unerased which
> is often worse (more error=prone) than a non-erased disk.

***   The metal protector is aluminum soa bulk eraser will work through
it. The fridge magnets may not, though.

         Richard Bonner
http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/


0
ak621
1/24/2006 4:57:47 PM
Straydog wrote:

> On Thu, 19 Jan 2006, Richard Bonner wrote:

> >   ...I encountered a problem with a computer at work. It runs
> > MS-DOS 6.2 .
> >
> >   I tried to copy files to various 3.5 floppy discs but kept getting
> > errors. The discs would not read and would not allow reformating. I kept
> > getting "Invalid Media or Track `0' Bad" messages.
> >   My DR-DOS laptop could not read the discs either, but it could reformat
> > them. I can take the reformatted discs and copy files to & from them via
> > DR-DOS but if I "FORMAT /Q", I get

> Can you make a DR-DOS boot disk with DR-DOS's format, chkdsk, command.com 
> and use it to boot the box at work and see if there may be corrrupted code 
> on the work OS's format, etc., functions?

***   I could, but it would not function because the work `FORMAT' command
is MS-DOS, not DR-DOS. I could simply restore FORMAT.com from the original
discs, but as you probably already know from reading this thread, I
solved the problem by replacing the drive. Work's FORMAT is running fine.


> If you have a disk editor (eg. Norton's for DOS, or Xtree for either DOS 
> or Win3.1), can you read and compare the bit pattern over some part of the 
> beginning of the first track?

***   I have Norton and PC Tools disc editors and tried Norton's. It could
not read the disc.


> I recall reading about some weird virus that re-writes the media 
> descriptor so it looks like something that can't be written to and it 
> drives people nuts. And, the virus can't be found with the usual AV 
> packages. Just a thought.

***   I appreciate those thoughts. I did try a virus scanner, but the
likelyhood of my system contracting a virus is low because I use a shell
server. Regardless, I did download the latest signatures files (only three
days old at the time) and no virus was found.


> Keep us informed about what you find. 

***   it turned out to be a faulty floppy drive.


> Another possible option: make a 
> linux-on-a-floppy boot disk (I think www.tomsrtbt.com, or something like 
> that) and run the linux fdisk which is much more powerful on the formated 
> 3.5 disks and see if the linux fdisk can recognize the DOS 
> partition/format (it should, and should report it to you).

***   I have Gnoppix on a bootable CD-ROM and could have implemented that.
Does Linux' FDISK work on floppy drives? The DOS FDISK programs only work
on hard drives.

         Richard Bonner
http://www.chebucto.ca/~ak621/DOS/

0
ak621
1/26/2006 12:28:30 AM
Reply: