A; (floppy) drive being accessed all the time

Posted on 2003-03-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Dell Dimension XPS H233
Windows 98 SE
IE 6.0
HP 3200 (All in One)
Lexmark Z52

I recently replaced all the SIMMs on my machine and formatted the C: drive. After reloading the OS everything seemed to be dandy with three exceptions (that I hope are related):

1. The A: (floppy) drive is accessed constantly. For example, if I am talking with someone on AIM, each time I send a message and each time I receive a message, the system tries to access the A: drive. It also happens when I try to print something (after hitting the 'print' button, the system will try and access the A: drive a dozen times or more - and then stop.

2. During boot up, the process always halts after trying to read the A: drive. The standard message comes up: Abort, Retry or Fail? I can select either Abort or Fail and the boot process continues.

3. I reinstalled the software/drives for my Lexmark Z52. When I try to print a test page, the system again access the A: drive, but also tells me the printer is not connected (it is - by USB 2.0 upgrade and new cable. The printer is on and indicates it is online,)

Thanks in advance
Bruce S
Question by:bruces1
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Accepted Solution

dotthei earned 1000 total points
ID: 8187232
Check config.sys and autoexec.bat for reference to A: or B:

Check win.ini and system.ini also

Using RegEdit (or comparable) search for A: or B:

Clear Recent files shortcuts from C:\Windows\Recent

Failing the above, read the extensive info below.  There are VERY many possible causes

FYI: More info:
- Known and Unknown Autostart Methods:
- Startup Problems:
- Startup Content:
- Startup List Items:
- Startup Items List:
- Startups:
- Floppy Drive Access Bug:

Here we go:
1. You have an AntiVirus tool installed (like McAfee VirusScan/WebScanX, or
Norton AntiVirus etc), which is set to check/scan/detect your floppy/add-on
drive(s) for viruses upon Windows startup/shut-down, and/or at preset
regular intervals.
I. FIRST SCAN and CLEAN ALL your drives (including removable) for potential
There have been reports the Neuville virus can also cause this!
II. Just start your antivirus tool and disable the floppy (or other add-on
drives) check/scan/detect option.
2. At some point you have accessed/opened/worked with/saved files located on
your floppy/add-on drive(s) with programs included with Windows, like
Wordpad, Notepad, MS Paint, or with commercial Microsoft or/and 3rd party
apps/utilities. Here is a (growing) list of such programs:
- File compression/decompression (zip/unzip) utilities:
      - Niko Mak Computing Winzip
      - Quarterdeck Zip-It
      - PKZip for Windows
      - Syncronys Zipper
- Diagnostic/repair tools:
      - Norton Utilities + System Doctor
      - Quarterdeck Fix-It
      - Quarterdeck WinProbe 95
      - Helix Nuts & Bolts tools (DiskTune, DiskMinder)
      - CyberMedia FirstAid 95/97
- Web browsers:
      - Netscape Navigator/Communicator
      - Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Paint/graphics manipulation programs:
      - JASC Paint Shop Pro
      - Leonardo Loureiro's LView Pro
      - Adobe PhotoShop
      - Corel Draw
      - Inset Systems HiJack Pro
- Word processors:
      - Corel WordPerfect suite apps
      - Lotus Smart apps: 1-2-3, Notes, Domino etc
      - Microsoft Office apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook
The programs listed here make up only the tip of the iceberg, there are
zillion others out there that save files to or check add-on/floppy drives.
I. Consider NOT saving files to floppy/add-on drives (you might need to have
to configure some of these apps to do so, read "behave").
II. Remove ALL disks/diskettes from your floppy/add-on drive(s), and see if
you get a pop-up (error) message at Win95/98 startup or whenever you run
such a program. If you do, you need to select another target drive for
saving files, reconfiguring the respective program.
3. Every time you open ANY file associated with a program/executable in
Win95/98, a link/shortcut to that document, zip, graphic, scrap, template
etc file is created in the Recent Documents subfolder (C:\Windows\Recent
usually). And your Recent subfolder contains ALL previously opened documents
(the max limit is 15) IF its contents has not been purged lately!
Every time you open let's say a ZIP file (associated in Win95/98/NT with an
zipping/unzipping tool, like Winzip 32-bit), a link to that ZIP file is
created in the Recent documents folder.
I. To clear ALL Recent documents, just right-click on the Taskbar (on an
empty raised spot, NOT in the sunken area where the time is displayed).
Select Properties, and click on the Start Menu Programs tab.
Now click the Clear button. Voila! All your saved links to previously opened
docs/files are gone.
If this was the reason why your floppy/removable drive was being accessed,
you won't have any problems from now on, ONLY IF you empty your Recent folder
on a regular basis!
You can also use the Microsoft TweakUI Power Toy [110 KB, free, unsupported]
to delete the Recent folder contents automatically upon every Win9x startup:
II. You can also do an "automatic cleaning" (my favorite) every time you boot
up or shut-down Windows 95/98:
A. Add a line to your Autoexec.bat file,
B. If you start Win95/98 from a dedicated batch file (like I do), add this
line there:
ECHO Y | DEL %winbootdir%\RECENT\*.*
C. A more radical approach, which can be achieved ONLY from outside the
Windows GUI, in native/real MS-DOS mode:
A similar solution is described in "CLEAR DOCS & MORE...", part of
REGISTRY.TXT (included). You can also use CLEAR.BAT (included here) in a
Windows DOS box for the same purpose.
4. If you haven't disabled the "Floppy Seek" in your BIOS, your primary floppy
drive is usually accessed every time upon bootup, even if you boot from your
master hard disk (like most of us do these days).
When you see the first CMOS POST (Power On Self Test) screen during boot,
press Del, F1, or the appropriate key to access your BIOS Setup. Go into the
"BIOS Features Setup" menu (title might be different depending on your
motherboard/BIOS type/model), and disable the "Boot Up Floppy Seek" option
(title might be different). Save your changes and reboot.
WARNING: Certain boot sector viruses can "invade" your BIOS and render your PC
"unbootable"! Therefore scan ALL your drives AND your computer's memory
periodically, using your favorite Virus Scanner tool, especially after
downloading files from untrusted Internet sites.
5. Open your System.ini file (located in the Windows folder) with Notepad or
Sysedit. Scroll down to the [386enh] section, and look for the
"device=filename.ext" lines listed there. The "device=" lines in System.ini
load Win95/98 specific protected mode device drivers or TSRs/programs,
installed by the OS, and/or by software you are or WERE using. Some of these
entries might be obsolete (especially if you uninstalled some "buggy" programs
that placed such lines in System.ini).
To isolate the possible "culprit", remark those device= lines one at a time,
using a semicolon (;) in front of each line. Example:
; device=vsbpd.386
Now start a search for all these devices/files on ALL your drives, and then
safely delete all "device=filename.ext" entries that don't point to actual
files anymore (but BACKUP FIRST!).
Reload Windows and see if that annoying floppy LED still goes on.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT remark/delete ANY System.ini "device=*" lines that have an
asterisk (*) as the first character after the equal sign! These are Win95/98
virtual drivers, NOT real files, and they are needed for Windows 95/98 proper
operation! Example:
6. Open your Win.ini file (found in your Windows folder) using Notepad.
Look for the "load=" and the "run=" lines under the [windows] section.
All programs/files listed there are Windows programs/TSRs that load/run at
startup. Example:
load=c:\windoz\wintsr c:\stuff\winstuff
Remark one file at a time (by using a semicolon in front of the file name,
and moving that file entry on a separate line), to prevent Windows from
trying to load/run it at startup. Example:
; c:\stuff\winstuff
; c:\myprogs/myprog.exe
Restart Windows and see if the floppy drive is still accessed.
Now start a search for all files listed on the "load="/"run=" lines, on ALL
your drives, and then safely delete all "filename.ext" entries that don't
point to existing files (but BACKUP FIRST!).
7. It has been brought to my attention that there is another System.ini line
which can contain executables that automatically run when Windows loads.
It is the "drivers=" line, found in the [boot] section of your System.ini.
This line looks usually like this:
but it may also have other devices/drivers besides the Windows default
"mmsystem.dll". All drivers (executables) on this line can have one of these
file extensions: .DLL, .DRV, .386 or .VXD. No matter how many drivers are
listed, they MUST ALL be on this same line, each separated by a space.
drivers=mmsystem.dll driver.vxd c:\stuff\weird.386
Note that all files located in C:\Windows\System (default for your Windows
System folder) don't need to have their path mentioned on System.ini's
"drivers" line.
If your "drivers" line has other commands listed, beside "mmsystem.dll",
proceed with the same steps as described at paragraph #5 (above), to disable
(remark) them, one at a time. Restart Windows and notice any differences.
8. Another place to look for loading programs is your Startup folder (default
is C:\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup).
Run Explorer, open your Startup folder, and determine which entries
(shortcuts/links) are not valid anymore (actual files on your drives).
Delete them (but BACKUP FIRST!).
9. Run Regedit.exe (located in your Windows folder), and scroll down to the
following keys:
Look in the right hand pane of each key above. You'll see a list of programs
Write down/print a hard copy of all programs/executables found under these
Registry keys, and then search ALL your drives for the correspondent file
BACKUP your Registry and System files (SYSTEM.DAT, USER.DAT, SYSTEM.DA0,
USER.DA0, SYSTEM.INI, WIN.INI, CONTROL.INI), and then safely delete/or move
to a backup drive/folder all obsolete entries under the Registry keys above.
Highlight each item you want to delete, and press Del. Answer OK to the
confirmation screen.
10. With Regedit started, check this Registry key for references to .DLL or
.OCX files that might reside on your floppy/removable drive:
WORKAROUND: Find the incriminated floppy/removable disk, copy the .DLL or
.OCX files you found to a directory on your hard disk, and then change their
path in the correspondent CLSID Registry subkey to point to the new
11. This one is not frequent, but you never know: search for a file called
WINSTART.BAT, on ALL your local hard drives. ANY command line listed there
will be executed BEFORE Windows 95/98 loads!
If WINSTART.BAT is on your path line, specified in your Autoexec.bat, move it
to a different location, NOT in your path! You can also open WINSTART.BAT with
Nopepad, to see the program names listed there. Then if you decide to keep
WINSTART.BAT in its original location, you can "remark" the program(s) you
don't want Windows to run upon startup with a double colon (or using the old
fashioned "REM"), followed by a space. Remark one line at a time, and then
restart Windows after each change. Example:
12. This topic is valid only for the hard drive your Windows 95/98 swap file
is located on. Basically, if your swap file size is too small, or/and if your
machine has only 8 MB (or less) of RAM, Win95/98 accesses the hard drive VERY
I. Read "SWAP FILE - Part 1" and "SWAP FILE - Part 2", both in MYTIPS95.TXT
(this file), for details on how to adjust Win95/98's swap file to your needs
[see especially "FIXED SWAP FILE" in TIPS95.TXT (included), on selecting
the swap file size based on your system installed memory amount].
II. Buy more memory (no more excuses, the memory chips prices dropped so low
13. Search ALL your drives for existent .PIF (Windows MS-DOS Shortcut) files
that might point to programs/apps located on floppy/removable drives.
Obviously, you need to delete/move ALL such PIF files (but BACKUP first!), or
avoid running those programs.
This step might be necessary for all topics above: REBOOT, RESTART or RELOAD
Windows to cure the problem!


1. Maggie (choukoud@xs4all.nl) sent me her own tips on "squashing" the
"drives access bugs". Many thanks for sharing, Mags!
"Some programs keep their own Recent file history in Win.ini, others do so
in the Registry. Whenever my A: led flashes, the first thing I do is start
Regedit and Sysedit, find A:, very often I find the entry.
On some rare occasion I found it in another .ini file.
The "FindFast" from MS Office '97 installs, even when you tell setup not to.
It not only accesses A:, but all directories on all drives.
Today I reinstalled Office, as well as a lot of other programs on my new 9
gigabyte hard disk, and forgot about FindFast. On the worst possible moment
this bug-with-a-name started indexing my 9 gig...
My system was so slow that even starting Regedit took me two cups of coffee.
Only after deleting all keys containing "findfast" the noise of clicking HD
heads stopped.
Back to floppies:
After installing IE4 I found out that Mijenix Explorer Plus was constantly
accessing A:. A free updated version of Explorer Plus solves this problem."
NOTE: This MSKB article explains how to disable FastFind:

2. Here is another cool trick to circumvent the A: floppy drive from being
accessed, courtesy of Dwayne (dwayne.pivac@team.xtra.co.nz):
"I have another answer that fixed this problem for me.
Using TweakUI (or something similar) you can hide the A: drive from the My
Computer or Windows Explorer screens. The problem I was having is whenever I
open these windows it would access the Floppy Drive, and hiding it fixed the
problem (good ole Windows). If you don't have TweakUI, you can hide the A:
Drive in the registry, go to:
Create a new Binary Value called NoDrives, with value 01 00 00 00, or
create a .REG file in Notepad:

-----Begin cut & paste here-----


------End cut & paste here------

Oh yeah, you can always add a shortcut to the A: Drive on your Desktop or
Start Menu if you still wish to access it, or do like I do and use the Windows
key and R together (on a MS Natural Keyboard), then type A: and press Enter.
Or if you don't have a Windows key try Ctrl-Esc then R (unless you have an
application in your Start Menu starting with R)."
NOTE: See "HIDE YOUR DRIVES!" in REGISTRY.TXT (included) for details.

3. Bradford (Bradford.Bucca@compaq.com) found yet another Windows 98/98 SE(U)
"floppy annoyance", and he also offers the solution:
"Under System -> Performance -> File System -> Floppy Disk -> uncheck the
"Search for new floppy disk drives each time your computer starts" box.
But the Biggie (at least for me with tape drive backup SW installed), there
are 3 VXDs in C:\Windows\System\Iosubsys: unless you have a floppy/parallel
port tape drive you should rename DRVWQ117.VXD and DRVWPPQT.VXD to something
like *.OLD, as these sniff the floppy/printer ports, causing unwanted floppy
access at startup. Search also the Registry and *.INI files for references to
them, but the renaming is quicker. And NEVER access anything from a floppy in
Win95/98, copy whatever you need to a HD first."
NOTE: See "SPEEEDUP YOUR GUI STARTUP!" in MYTIPS95.TXT (this file) for details
on how to do this.

4. This one comes from Richard (marich@worldnet.att.net):
"While my tip correcting the floppy drive being accessed and the drive light
left on during bootup annoyance by renaming HSFLOP.PDR and letting Windows use
the DOS floppy driver works, I finally located the source of my problem.
A patch was required so that OSR2 would handle my AMD 380 MHz CPU. That patch
contains an updated floppy driver. The problem arose when the patch didn't
remove the references to the old driver in:
The patch placed the new driver information under a key that contained the old
floppy driver date. By deleting all entries referencing the old floppy driver
(for some reason I had 5) and correcting the date in the remaining key to
coincide with the subordinate listing the new driver date, the problem was
solved, but ONLY AFTER doing this: Control Panel -> System -> Device Manager
-> Floppy disk controllers -> Standard Floppy Disk Controller -> Properties ->
disabled the hardware profile. Floppy drive works fine and the light doesn't
turn on anymore."

5. Try also this one from Todd (ToddW@westcoasteagles.com.au):
"This has always worked for me: in Explorer, select View -> Folder Options and
choose the File Types tab. Run slowly down the list of file associations one
by one with the down arrow on your keyboard, until you hear your A drive seek.
Then either edit or remove the offending association (you may have more than

6. This "fix" appears courtesy of Jor (Joranthalus@foxvalley.net):
"If you install Aladdin DropZip:
(for MAC Stuffit decompression) in Windows 98, any time you right-click on a
shortcut or compressed file, it will attempt to access your A: drive. I found
2 ways around this:
- uninstall the damn thing,
- or use TweakAll:
to take "Add to DropZip" off your right-click menu."
"Here are the instructions to fix frequent floppy access with Aladdin DropZip
in Win95/98 caused by a corrupt shortcut to the A:\ floppy drive located in
the \Windows\SendTo subfolder:
For Windows NT, 2000 and ME there are downloadable patches to fix this issue."
[Thank you Nick (NickR@ClearSystems.co.uk)!]


Expert Comment

ID: 8187237
And never ever print a file directly from the floppy or a CD or other removable drive.
LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 8187569
One simple solution to a previous request was that A:\ was in the path in AUTOEXEC.BAT
Another possibility is that you have a virus - http://housecall.antivirus.com
A third is that your virus scanner is checking it.
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 8187590
I don`t think this was in the surprisingly comprehensive post above, but I had a similar problem, and it was an entry in the "send to" menu(right click on file).
every time I opened a window, it checked ALL the drives, one of which was no longer there. It also checked the floppy, ( just in case it was the missing drive I suppose).
First thing I would do is check the boot sequence in the Bios (hold down delete while booting), and set it to "C only" it is probably set to a,c,cdrom or something similar.

Expert Comment

ID: 8188480
In case not already mentioned ...

until you do find a real fix ....

... temporarily just leave a spare blank disk in the floppy drive so that whatever it's checking for, is over and done with in a fraction of a second instead of repeated failed attempts.


Expert Comment

ID: 8189327
Wow dotthei, u REALLY want those 125 points dont you! :)

Expert Comment

ID: 8189622
The removable drive seek issue is difficult to track down. I once worked for a guy who did all of his word processing from a floppy.  You likely cannot imagine the problems this created.

Also, "Dot The i" implies thoroughness.
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 10475445
No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I will leave the following recommendation for this question in the Cleanup topic area:

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