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Floppy problem or media problem?

I have been experiencing some floppy problems lately.  I work in an eight-site public school district and this problem is occurring in every site, across MS WIN95, 2K and now XP os's.
I can take a floppy right out of the box (IBM formatted) and sometimes have to go to two or three pc's to get a drive capable (or willing?) to read the floppy.
We have prdominantly Compaq pc's.
Has anyone out there been experiencing this phenomenon?

I'm thinking that because we have mostly one brand of pc, with a handful of rougue clones and a few Mac's, that the tolerances should not be off that much.

I have also used different brands of floppy disk media with much the same result.  The mystery expands in that I cannot seem to duplicate the problem consistently!

I just want to know if it's also happening outside our little world.  Please tell me I'm not crazy!
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mperea
Asked:
mperea
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1 Solution
 
dbruntonCommented:
I would try the following

a floppy disk drive cleaning kit on all of the machines
running an ant--virus app on all of the machines

You should not be experiencing this problem on all machines.

And can you take your media that fails out of your schools into your home and carefully test it.  Check that it has not been virus infected and see if you can read it.
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mpereaAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the quick response.  I should tell you that we are running Norton anti-virus products already.  This problem occurs on older and newer pc's. I have three shop pc's: one each of the mentioned os's.  The problem isn't even consistent on those machines.  Just twilight zone kinda stuff.  I will bring a floppy from home to test in the shop.
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jhanceCommented:
Let me just say that I believe that there is a bug in Windows XP that is causing this.  

I too have been experiencing this but it only happens when I have XP in the mix.  I can take a brand new floppy, and write some data to it using Win98 or Win2000 and all is fine.  If I take it to an XP machine, sometimes it works fine.  Other times XP says the disk needs to be formatted.  If I take the floppy BACK to the original machine, it's messed up and the system says the floppy needs to be formatted.

It's inconsistent in WHEN it happens but it is consistently the XP machines that cause it.  And more than one machine is involved.

I have no solution and I've not found any reference to this on MS web site.
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mpereaAuthor Commented:
This has happened at sites with XP pc's on-site.  (We are trying to hold on to our 95's as long as possible.)

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mpereaAuthor Commented:
This has happened at sites with XP pc's on-site.  (We are trying to hold on to our 95's as long as possible.)

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jhanceCommented:
You're repeating yourself.
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Jason_SCommented:
Is there a common piece of software installed on all of the problem systems?  Virus Scanner, or other?
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mpereaAuthor Commented:
Almost all of the pc's are networked, MS Office 2k professional series. Student demographics programs etc.
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ridCommented:
It could be interesting to know about this taking a floppy from the box situation. Several boxes? Newly bought or stored somewhere on the premises? All from she same place? A tedious, but possibly rewarding exercise would be to take a box of new floppies and run them through good old Norton Disc Doctor, doing a thorough surface scan. Finding any errors at all from the very beginning could point towards media problems.

I have too had some problems with new floppies, both formatted and unformatted, and on several different computers. Not to the extent that you seem to have, but still... sometimes I wonder if quality control at the manufacturers is slipping.

Regards
/RID
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WiZaRdCommented:
Are the discs inserted corrected correctly. It's real easy to pop in a floppy disc but it's not quite sitting in the drive correctly. Is everyone having this problem or is it just the one user ? Quality control is possibly an issue as I've had more faulty floppy drives in the last 6 months than in the previous 12 years (no exaggeration). However it would be unusual, to say the least, to have so many together in different machines running different OS's. Try to locate at least one machine that consistently reads the discs OK and compare the software/hardware to other machines. also worth trying each machine off the network in case this is an issue.
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Jason_SCommented:
1)  What errors are seen when the read fails?

2)  Were the problem systems all purchased at the same time?

3)  What about the PC's from another manufacturer.  Do they have the same problem?

4)  Successfully create a boot disk on a system, and try to boot from it on one of the problem PC's.  If successful every time, that would indicate a software issue.  Try disabling software's (virus scanner) one at a time, and see if you can find a common link.
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NickLoCommented:
The main problem is the slight distortion of the read/write head of the floppy disk drive due to either wear and tear or dirt such as lint.  I suggest replacing  the disk drive and check.  Fortunately they are very cheap.
If you think that the problem is caused by the software, then take the floppy disk drive from one of the machines which was unable to read the floppy disk and place it in the machine on which the floppy disk was originally recorded.  If it works then the problem is due to the software of the operating system, and if not, the problem is caused by the head alinement of the floppy disk drives.
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RoadWarriorCommented:
Okay, I've got a few theories fwiw......
i) XP has badly implemented read/write caching that is turned on by default, turn it off.
ii) XP co-opts the floppy drive DMA (DMA 2) line and/or IRQ (IRQ 6) and lets other hardware use it.
iii) All of XPs 16bit and 12 bit filesystem support is goosed.

However, in the particular case of Compaq machines, they have been known to get a little creative when adhering to interface standards, so maybe thier floppy controllers need a compaq specific driver for XP and maybe 2K.

For what it's worth also, I've had boxes of "name brand" disks that have had bad sectors and dropouts, and lost data because of it, so if I am saving something important I always format the floppy first, probably the floppy making machines are third hand or so by now and have "graduated" from clean room to regular factory, to tin roof shack alongside the nike sewing machine collective.

Good luck anyway,

Road Warrior
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mpereaAuthor Commented:
OK, all.  I'm red-faced about one of my postings.  There is a typo up there where I repeated myself accidentally.  It should say that this has happened at sites where there are NO XP's on site.  My apologies!

rid - The problem occurs with different brand floppies, out of the cellophane AND with floppies that I have used in the past - on different machines, which does not discount the "out of tolerance" and "distortion" NickLo mentioned.  It once took three floppies out of one box to find one that would work!

Jason S - the errors are simply that "this is not a formatted disk" - then it won't format - "Unable to format"

At the moment, I am leaning toward the floppy media as being the major problem, with perhaps the slight distorion exacerbating the problem.  I will keep this open for a while longer in hopes of getting more ideas, but school is getting ready to close the year and I will not have time to carry this too much farther.

Thanks to all of you Experts.  I'm the rookie here and am grateful for this forum.
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Jason_SCommented:
mperea:  Please look back through this thread, and clarify an answer to each of the questions asked above.  I see a few that there is no clear answer from you.
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NickLoCommented:
One last possibility.  I do not beleive that the problem is due to the diskettes or the type of operating system.  The mechanical vibration of the floppy disk drive as well as the heat from the current, result in dry joints.  I suggest you take each floppy disk drive out of the computers and resolder the four supply plug pins and some of the data plug pins if necessary.  Inspect the joints carefully with a magnifying glass and see if there are any loose tracks or joints on the pcb on the disk drive.  This is a very common fault and can be very frastrating, especially when halfway through saving the disk drive freezes or unable to read or write on a diskette.
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mpereaAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all who have participated in this forum.  This being my first posting, I did not know what to expect.  Very positive experience. Thanks again.

I have found that we have used three different brands of floppy media and there have been some inconsistencies since these have been in use.  I guess you really do get what you pay for.
mp
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ridCommented:
It is difficult to get a conclusive solution to a problem like yours. I assume "better" makes (BASF, Maxell) may yield less problems. An FDD cleaning set may com in handy, too.

Cheers
/RID
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jekimblerCommented:
We have had similar problems at our district. It is mostly in the Win XP lab that it occurs. Either the disk cannot be read or it is saying this disk has been formatted for a MAC.  It's the strangest thing.

Thanks to those of you who have offered solutions. We are trying to track if it is certain machines to see if it is more of a hardware issues vs. software. Not enough time has passed to determine this yet though.
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