Don't laugh.... 3.5" floppy drive questions

curtis73

Novice Member
I'm not a member of any computer forums that I know of, so I figured I'd ask here since y'all are smart folks.

Going through some boxes the other day I found a stack of about 30 3.5" floppies, all of them labeled with events that were photographed with an old Mavica digital camera. Normally I would just say "who cares" and throw them away, but some of them are labeled things like "wedding reception" and "Uncle Duane's 90th." Things I know I want, and don't have copies of anywhere else.

At work, I have a 3.5" drive that was removed from an old PC tower.

See where I'm going here? I found some floppy-USB cards. Most of them say they recognize the drive but can't read the disks.

The only computers I know I have access to are an all-in-one (no bays), and two PC laptops. The only tower I can think of is in the Executive Director's office and being used as a server. Not too keen on hacking the boss' computer with all the company secrets on it, especially because I don't even know if this old drive/ribbon will even have a spot to connect.

Discuss.
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
The media has probably degraded by now. I doubt that they are even readable any more. Most floppy disks had a data integrity life of 5 years. Given that the last 3.5” floppy disks were manufactured in 2010, they are well beyond double their shelf life.
 

curtis73

Novice Member
Mine are definitely not Mac. With the exception of three horrific months with a borrowed iPhone, the last Apple product I used was a 2e in 1986. :)

I joke, but I'm squarely a PC/Android kinda guy.
 

curtis73

Novice Member
The media has probably degraded by now. I doubt that they are even readable any more. Most floppy disks had a data integrity life of 5 years. Given that the last 3.5” floppy disks were manufactured in 2010, they are well beyond double their shelf life.

You may be totally correct, but I'd like to try. These are likely circa 1999-2001. If I get nothing, so be it. But if I throw away hundreds of potential pictures without trying first, it would suck.
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
I found some floppy-USB cards.
I have no idea what a floppy-USB card is but you should be able to pick up a USB powered 3.5" drive cheaply from Ebay. eg:


Maybe start with a post on your local Facebook group or similar to see if anyone has an old machine with a FDD installed who could test a disk or two for you.

It's entirely possible the FDD you've acquired is faulty. Also remember that 3.5" disks came in 720kB & 1.44MB versions, so you could have a compatibility issue. Having said all that @mushii may be right, but I wouldn't give up just yet.
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Even if they are readable by the FDD there is no guarantee that modern OS will even recognise the file format, but you can try
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
Even if they are readable by the FDD there is no guarantee that modern OS will even recognise the file format, but you can try
They're almost certainly JPEGs I'd have thought.

Interesting device the Mavica, hard to believe they were a grand back in the day and took VGA Res pictures. We've come a long way.

 

curtis73

Novice Member
As far as I recall, you could capture as jpg or maybe tiff on the Mavica. The few photos I have from that era that I know were taken on the Mavica are jpg, and that long ago I wouldn't have had any clue how to navigate anything but plug and play. So whatever the camera took was what went directly to my hideous website after some novice photoshopping.

RBZ... the "card" I just discovered in a google search for "floppy USB converter" or something. They look like this picture below. I read numerous reviews that say they do just fine recognizing the drive and installing drivers, but when you try to access the drive it gives an error. I've found them as cheap as $6, but maybe I'll have to spring the whole $18 for a complete USB drive.

1610321261637.png


I did reach out to my neighborhood groups. I was hopeful because the average age of my neighbors appears to be 106 so I figured someone would have a floppy. The problem is, everyone is 106. Random neighbor asking to come into their house and stick disks in their tower isn't something most people are eager to do. I found one friend who had an old tower, but it was full of mice who had destroyed everything inside.

I have an IT buddy who said he would keep an eye out. He normally deals with Navy contracts which means the last time he saw a floppy was never years ago because he's only 35, but he said he does some private work for other businesses and encounters old towers sometimes that he could give me.
 

curtis73

Novice Member
It's entirely possible the FDD you've acquired is faulty. Also remember that 3.5" disks came in 720kB & 1.44MB versions, so you could have a compatibility issue. Having said all that @mushii may be right, but I wouldn't give up just yet.

I'll check the version, but I have nothing to hook it to to check if it works or not.

I guess I was just hoping that someone here knew a brilliant hack to check this before I spend my hard-earned $18 on a piece of obsolete hardware that may lead to nothing :)
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Even if they are readable by the FDD there is no guarantee that modern OS will even recognise the file format, but you can try

Yep, the missus word processor at the time used floppies but they wouldn’t read on a PC at the time. I tried but couldn’t get any joy. As you say if the disks have survived it may be the format that’s wrong.

Wonder if a disk recovery program would be able to recover anything as some will look for images on the disk, and just recover data regardless of format.
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Could be a current issue. Not sure 500mA available from a USB socket would be enough to power a drive designed to run off a full PSU. I would imagine the ones designed for USB operation are optimised for low power. Pure speculation though.

What sort of return policy do the likes of Bestbuy have over there if you were to buy a drive & have no joy? Would it even be possible to take a disk into a store & ask to test first?
 

curtis73

Novice Member
Could be a current issue. Not sure 500mA available from a USB socket would be enough to power a drive designed to run off a full PSU. I would imagine the ones designed for USB operation are optimised for low power. Pure speculation though.

What sort of return policy do the likes of Bestbuy have over there if you were to buy a drive & have no joy? Would it even be possible to take a disk into a store & ask to test first?

It's a tricky call. Technically no returns on anything that has been removed from the static bag, but my experiences is that they're a little more "walmart" on their returns policy. They don't seem to care. If I go that route, I'll likely choose one on Amazon that specifically says "free returns."
 

password1

Distinguished Member
I still have a floppy drive on my PC and the disks last more than 10 years..i still have about 100 floppies.

Back on the day when I didnt have a CD rewritable drive I used floppies for saving files.

I later converted a hard drive into a removable hard drive using a craddle.
 

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