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Virtual floppy needed for Win98

Posted on 2001-07-11
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OK, I've seen plenty of software packages for virtual CDROM drives to the hard disk, so does anyone know of a virtual PC floppy drive (to a hard disk)?

What's up:
I've got a consulting client who bought $300 worth of RAID1 and networking gear to be able to back up a Win98 POS PC to a bigger workstation/server PC.  All very smart and modern.  Then the POS program shows up and only supports backup to floppy, if you can believe it, and complains that the next disk has not been inserted when spoofed (simply by telling it the floppy was 'S', a mapped drive share) to back up to the other machine's RAID.  Must be checking the disk label or somesuch...  So, I need to come up with a virtualized floppy drive.

OK, I know that I can use Win98's basic system backup utility to back up the program and its data files to the mapped RAID, so no points for pointing that out.  Here's why that's no good:  The people who wrote the POS software refuse to provide tech support if you've backed up from anything but floppies in the case that their FoxPro frontend hoses itself.  While *I* could figure out restoring from 98's backup schedule my clients are, shall we say, not very technically sophisticated.

And then the *real* solution is to get decent POS software, but hey, it's not me who picked the thing and I have no say in that; I'm just their hardware advisor.

Also, yes, I know I could just spring $15 for a floppy drive for the POS (currently floppyless), but that wastes the $300 in networking and hot swappable RAID gear which has passed its 30 day return period, and really the goal of asking here is to generate ideas to save this investment.

I've searched Google for "virtual floppy" but it seems to turn up loads of Commodore TRS-80 emulators and other associated wackiness.  Minor points to start in case the answer, as I fear, is 'no such beast', but I'm happy to increase it for an ingenious or hard to find solution.

regards,
magarity
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Question by:magarity
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by:Gtrist
ID: 6274876
Couldn't you share a floppy drive on the network, map it on the POS terminal and then backup to the shared floppy drive?
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by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 6275125
Don't suppose you could use subst?  Hmm, no probably not, but who knows...

I think there is some setting in the registry that identifies what kind of drive a drive letter is, i.e. one hex code means its a 3.5" floppy, one means a harddrive, or cd-rom, etc.  Maybe something crafty at: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices

I can't find the setting I'm looking for (I'm on W2K, I think this is a 9x only setting), but I did find this...the reason 2K is so much more stable than Win9X! All you need is this registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl

Brilliant!  If 98 had that key, then it would be stable (HAHA!)

I've got to get out of here now, but I will check it out tomorrow...

Good luck though, I didn't find much with a pretty complex AltaVista search (exclusions, etc in the search)...Apparently there is a "virtual floppy" for iMac users (a website no less! ha!).

-d
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 6275319
Don't know if any of these will do it for you or not. :>)

look for disk100s.zip
http://www.filelibrary.com/Contents/DOS/49/10.html

look for de111e.zip
http://www.filelibrary.com/Contents/DOS/49/9.html

look for DISK11.EXE
http://www.hh.schule.de/brado/ra/ra142c.htm


The Crazy One
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by:Hunty
ID: 6275358
I did a search for floppy drive emulators and came up with soem interesting stuff but unfortunately none that would help.  I hate to say this but they may have to go the old fashioned route and let the POS software backup to "real" floppies (after you install a drive) and then backup the backup onto the RAID.
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by:BigFitz
ID: 6275544
I hate to be a master of the obvious here, but time is money, so spend the $10 for a floppy drive.  Reading between the lines, was it YOU who had them buy the RAID stuff and are now too embarassed to tell them that the problem can be solved for $10?  (OOPS)---Fitz
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by:RoadWarrior
ID: 6275618
Hmmm how many floppies does it write to?
Does it only write 1.44mb when spoofed? Then ask for another disk?
Can you convince it to use 2.88Mb floppies?

I am thinking along the lines of having a drivespace compressed volume file, to spoof it to, and having a dos .bat file as an icon on the desktop that when run copies compressed volume file to another directory, renaming it, then formats the compressed volume...... You would have to run this every time it prompts for a disk. When it writes the volume file it should use sequential numbering. I'd make drivespace make the file uncompressed and exactly the size of a floppy to avoid problems. Then to really restore the thing you could make a batch file that copies the files back one by one in sequence.....

This is really messy of course, anything at all that comes near solving it is going to be really messy..

IF it will use whatever size the floppy drive reports and will write more than a 1.44mb file AND it will only ever use up to 3 or 3 1/2 regular floppies, then you can get a 2.88Mb drive, format it to something like 3.7Mb using a system like MS used on win 95 distribution floppies. Now the benefit of this would be you could set it up to dump  to that single floppy in the machine, which remains in the machine all the time, and then copy a disk image to the REAL backup system.

You could also use a regular 1.44Mb floppy in the manner suggested by the method of using a compressed volume file, keep formatting it underneath the software with a .bat file and sending the image over to the REAL backup system, you could put this drive in an internal drive bay with a floppy permanently inserted.

If the system supports backing up to two floppy drives, a then b, then you could create a series of volume files with drive space and walk the assignments up the series, don't think you could do it like this for just one drive though.

If the system supports other devices on the floppy controller maybe a cheap 40mb floppy tape drive would be good if it will write all the data to it in one shot, again, you'd probably want to have the tape permananenlty installed and write the image to the REAL backup.

Please comment and provide further info about what it will and won't do and I might have some other ideas and workarounds. Would be interesting to play with the software and see if is detecting media size in the floppy drive or whether it just will write 1.44mb whatever. If it detects media size, but defaults to 1.44mb when it can't (like when you tried spoofing it) then I can think of some ways to spoof a larger media, I think.

regards,

Road Warrior
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by:RoadWarrior
ID: 6275619
Hmmmm, if this was an Amiga..... LOL
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by:magarity
ID: 6275646
"it YOU who had them buy the RAID stuff"

Excuse me, but the RAID gear was bought knowing that a POS program was going to be bought.  That's it.  End of information.  So I'm supposed to know it was hard coded to go to archaic media?

RW,
Unfortunately, that's all occurred to me.  The problem is that the thing seems to be looking for labels, because if you don't put in the right disk of its, again hard coded, three floppy disk backup set then it complains you haven't put in the correct disk.

"If the system supports other devices"

Yeah, right.  Let's put it this way: this is a DOS front end to a FoxPro database.  When was the last time you saw a commercial product that used FoxPro?

The original set of install floppies had gone bad between when it was shipped and I went to install the program the first time.  She had to send another batch.  And then has the nerve to claim that floppies make perfectly good backup media.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I've called the woman who writes the thing and she told me that I couldn't get a patch to backup to a single directory because she couldn't (be bothered to) support all the different kinds of backups people might get.  She then told me I was wierd for not having a floppy in the POS machine in the first place and summarily hung up *BEFORE* I could comment on her general competence.  

What a noxious %^$#@.  I'll be writing my own POS program shortly and underselling her $1,000 peice of junk.
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RoadWarrior earned 50 total points
ID: 6275700
Hmm hard coded backup floppies ?????? wonderful !
$1000? **choke** It was written specifically for this customer for that price and degree of sophistication, right? Crap if I paid that, I'd expect the programmer on site to solve all issues without food or water until he/she did. :-) Sounds like something you could knock up over a weekend with Access and VBscript, sounds like you could do it better in Qbasic even given a few hours. What is so special about it????

Hmmm, so, why not image these hardcoded floppies to 1.44Mb drivespace files? and swap them around from another issue of the command prompt?

I'm going to have a browse of Simtel's archive, I've got a feeling that there might be something useful there.
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by:andysalih
ID: 6275941
what you may be best doing is networking and mapping your A drive to another network drive, so its in reverse.

what about getting an old copy of the dos command file.

ASSIGN

provoke
ASSIGN A C

or

ASSIGN A: C:


which ASSIGN's the A: C:

this is a guess but its worth a shot.

i dont know it will work with windows OS it used to be a dos command so there must be something siml for windows OS

hope this helps
Andy
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by:andysalih
ID: 6275959
have a look at this thread its listed in there and it does what you want it to do but i dont know where you can get the file from

http://www.computerhope.com/dosapp.htm
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by:andysalih
ID: 6275974
HERE IS A replacement command have a look at the details is what exactly want

http://www.timeslips.com/answer/DOS754K.HTM

hope this helps

andy
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by:andysalih
ID: 6275980
explaination of command and operating systems comp with

http://www.computerhope.com/substhlp.htm

cheers
andy
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by:andysalih
ID: 6275989
okey heres the quick answer

TYPE IN :-

SUBST /H

LQQK WHAT IT SAYS "VIRTUAL DRIVE" WITH HELP COMMANDS

and that should do it

many thanks

Andy
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by:dbrunton
ID: 6276036
Does it have to be 1.44 floppies?

What about those 100 Mb floppies someone was producing?  Can't recall the maker.
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by:andysalih
ID: 6276099
THIS WILL DO IT

SUBST A:\ H:

this will assign anything which goes to A: drive floppy to the virtual drive H;

hope this helps

cheers
Andy
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by:andysalih
ID: 6276105
sorry this will do it not the other comment

SUBST H:\ A:

this will assign anything which goes to A: drive floppy to the virtual drive H;

hope this helps

cheers
Andy
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by:Hunty
ID: 6276417
From: dbrunton
                                                                            Date: 07/12/2001 12:31AM PST
                     Does it have to be 1.44 floppies?

                     What about those 100 Mb floppies someone was producing?  Can't recall the maker.

That's the LS-120 120Mb floppies.  It's an Atapi drive that'll use anything under 120Mb.  I have one installed on my system for backups.  I think they run about $60 USD though and the disks aren't cheap either.
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by:andysalih
ID: 6276420
the only way your going to get this command to work on the pc is to go into bios and tell it that there is no floppy on drive A:

then reboot the computer so is doesnt reckonize drive A and set A as a virtual drive allocated to C

eg

SUBST P: A:\

this will tell the computer software that anything going to A will really be backed to C:\ thus being the hard drive

hope this helps

ive tried this and it works fine

cheers
Andy
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by:andysalih
ID: 6276428
in your case SUBST C: A:\

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by:andysalih
ID: 6276434
this is a cheep command and no cost in provocking it , so use this command instead of buying a zip drive or any other hardware device

many thanks
andy
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by:mrbud
ID: 6280016
Hi, dont mean to be picky, but didnt dogztar suggest this as the first comment.
Regards

Martin.
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by:andysalih
ID: 6280190
no he didnt

he stated could it be used

i didnt see that part of this comment but ive shown and given the full way of doing this.

all comments help the questioner, if another EE user actualy works of one of my comments and re-proses it i wouldnt mind aslong as its suggestion a correct method to solve the problem,

i see that you didnt offer any explaination Martin but a picky jester.
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by:mrbud
ID: 6280233
I didnt offer any explanation as to be honest I would agree with the both of you, Subst would seem the logical choice to me. An old command but certainly the easiest if it does the trick.  As for RAID1 I have no idea.
Regs
Martin.
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by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 6280829
Well, I didn't spell out the full syntax for SUBST because I know magarity is a very knowledgable expert and likely know about SUBST previously, also because it won't work considering the worthless way this POS software is written (from the sound of it).  It sounds like it is hard-coded to write to only the A: drive, and it looks for a disk label as well, based on her comments.

I had another thought, I wonder if there would be some way to use WinImage (www.winimage.com) to do this, by saving the images to the RAID?  Seems that it would require a custom program to implement virtual floppies though, but WinImage does have a SDK available...in the end though, would it really be worth it?

I'm fairly sure there is no way to pull this off, but you never know...maybe one of the Simtel Archive files posted above can do it.

-d
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by:Otta
ID: 6283090
> [LS-120] disks aren't cheap either.

One Imation SuperDisk holds the equivalent of 83 floppy-disks.

So, you could pay 80*$0.30 -> $24.00 (US)
or you could pay $6.00 (US) for one SuperDisk.
Which is "cheaper"? (The SuperDisk)
Which is "faster"? (The SuperDisk)

Note that 'LS-240' drives are now available.
and they can write 32MB onto a "standard" 3.5" HighDensity diskette.

Since everybody else suggested 'SUBST', I will too,
to plagiarize DOGZTAR's comment.  :-)
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by:dbrunton
ID: 6283136
Is there an echo in here?

Sorry, I always wanted to do that.  :-}
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by:Hunty
ID: 6283263
>So, you could pay 80*$0.30 -> $24.00 (US)
>or you could pay $6.00 (US) for one SuperDisk.
>Which is "cheaper"? (The SuperDisk)
>Which is "faster"? (The SuperDisk)

Well, since you put it that way..............  :-)
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by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 6283898
I'm sorry, but I"m going to have to sue all of your for plagarism!

magarity:
Does it help at all if you set the "comment" field for the network drive share to the label of the floppy?

-d
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by:andysalih
ID: 6283908
is magarity still alive,

hasnt commented, is going to be another dead end question where ya just get ripped off,

whats happening just latley,ive got another question where ive answered it with other users and we are still waiting for a reply,

ive got a mod whos gonna delete the question soon, but it seems to me that they ask the question and have no interest after, whats the point of asking the question if they arent going to try any of the solutions provided.

this is very annoying.

cheers
Andy
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by:andysalih
ID: 6283911
sits down and starts to read a book on "HOW TO SPELL"

cheers
Andy
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by:Otta
ID: 6284055
> I'm sorry, but I"m going to have to sue all of your for plagarism [sic] !

You should borrow the "HOW TO SPELL" book,
if/when  andysalih  has finished with it.

Plagarism: the act of being related to Bill Plagar or to Bob Plagar -- former hockey players with the St. Louis Blues.

Plagiarism: I would copy a definition from a dictionary,
but that would be plagiarism.   :-)


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by:CrazyOne
ID: 6284064
LOL
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by:Hunty
ID: 6284099
Well it's certainly not like magarity to abandon a Q.  Maybe he's arguing with his clients about the lousy software they got and is trying to talk some sense into them?
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by:magarity
ID: 6284418
Well, I guess the floppy emulator is a pipe dream...  I'm plotting with a friend to write our own Win32 software since it is a retail package, not a custom job...  it's $850 per license to start for the basic version, has ~350 installed users and is supposedly the best of 3 programs for this application on the market.  We'll make a killing.  See you turkeys on the Riviera.
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by:Hunty
ID: 6284906
Good for you buddy!  Make a killing then take us all out for drinks.  :-)
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by:Otta
ID: 6286377
> We'll make a killing. See you turkeys on the Riviera.

Fast-forward into the future, and we could hear you say:

  ... Hi, I'm the new trainee -- would you like fries with that?

judging by the number of Generation Y'ers who have emulated the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.   :-)
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by:Hunty
ID: 6287253
Heh heh heh :-)
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by:edwardwong_ks
ID: 8454851
A true virtual Windows Floppy disk driver has just been released by a Japanese programmer:

http://chitchat.tripod.co.jp/vmware/vfd.html

But it only works in NT/2000/XP.

Have used it to successfully create Ghost Boot "floppies" on a floppyless laptop.

Ed
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by:charlesg
ID: 10783047
> A true virtual Windows Floppy disk driver has just been released by a Japanese programmer:

> http://chitchat.tripod.co.jp/vmware/vfd.html

> But it only works in NT/2000/XP.

> Have used it to successfully create Ghost Boot "floppies" on a floppyless laptop.

Cool program! Been looking for one of these for my floppy-less 2000 machines for ages. Thanks very much :)
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