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USB 2 upgrade? New Motherboard? Recent re-installation?  ???? something else? Why oh why always this "Windows was unable to complete the format."

Posted on 2004-10-10
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Greetings,

I have gone through some traumatic renewing of my PC after a crash of the HDD. Some changes and upgrades.

While there have been many problems, some seeming quite serious, only to be solved, I have now this one nagging, irritating, frustrating problem with the floppy drive.

One may be inclined to dismiss floppy drive matters as low importance, but no one who as just relied on his emergency boot floppies will share that view.

So, I have non-boot, regular joe floppies, which I had previously formatted on this same computer and A: drive, which invariably produces a "Windows was unable to complete the format." message.

Any ideas?

regards,

stevenjs
___________________________
"I am but an egg."
--Stranger in a Strange Land
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Question by:stevenjs
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Expert Comment

by:Cyber-Dude
ID: 12269604
Simple;
You can easily do so via the 'DiskPart' utility within Windows. It is a very powerful utility:
1. Enter the command prompt (Start => 'Run...' => 'cmd' => Enter).
2. Type 'Diskpart' and press 'Enter'.
3. Type 'List disk' to view the list of drives available;
4. Type 'Select Disk <disk letter>' to select the HDD you want to format.
5. Type 'Clean' to clean the drive from all data.
6. Type 'Exit' to exit the command line.
7. Try to format the drive once again.

Another option is the following:
Try to use the following command (undocumented though):
Format <Drive Letter> /FORCE

Cyber
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Assisted Solution

by:Cyber-Dude
Cyber-Dude earned 350 total points
ID: 12269623
PS

One more thing (I wrote it down for you in your personal comments):
Try to boot via Windows 98 CD and try to use its format utility to verify any Hardware or Software problems. If the format fails while using the Windows 98 Boot CD (which is loading simple device drivers) than you may experience a hardware problem (i.e. the lowest layer) thus you may need to replace your floppy drive. If not, you may need to verifay cables; BIOS settings and forth. Tell me for now how things worked for you...

Cyber
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Accepted Solution

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nobus earned 150 total points
ID: 12270303
You can also try to boot from a bootdisk, get them at www.bootdisk com , or try booting in DOS (hit F8 while booting)
If it can boot from it, the drive looks good for reading.
If you boot from DOS, try reading a known good floppy. Then i would try writing to it, with a command : edit test.txt. This will try to create a file on your floppy, so type in it any text you want. Save it. This will show you if there are any errors associated with your floppy drive.
If there are errors, 2 possibilities arise : or the drive is faulty (replace it) or the drive controller on your motherboard is faulty. In this case you can try replacing the controller with a separate ISA HDD + floppy controller, depending on how much the system is still worth.
I must say, i'm beginning to wonder if you do not have problems with your motherboard. Does your system run OK?
Just trying to help  (...i feel a bit obliged, you know)

If you need more help, give a yell

nobus
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Author Comment

by:stevenjs
ID: 12271463
Nobus and Cyber-Dude,

First, please let me remind you both that there are few limits to my ingorance of things PC.

I don't have a windows '98 boot disk, don't know what it means to boot from DOS, or how one would "read" a floppy from DOS, or write to one. Verify what in BIOS settings? I do not understand the relevance of any of this.

The floppy drive reads and writes fine. When I try to format from the command prompt, it says the device is "busy." Diskpart => list disk lists only the hard drives, not the floppy, nor the internal HDD's partition "drive."

It is a brand new motherboard and a brand new floppy drive, neither of which have given me any problem, including formatting floppies, since yesterday (or at least I first noticed yesterday when I tried to format a floppy for the first time in several weeks).

Please explain given this.

stevenjs
--Stranger in a Strange Land
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Expert Comment

by:Cyber-Dude
ID: 12271507
> please let me remind you both that there are few limits to my ingorance of things PC.
Sorry, I'll do my best to provide you with clearrer information;
>When I try to format from the command prompt, it says the device is "busy."
It is an important issue here:
What was the exact message? Just plain 'Busy'? If so, you may have problems with the on-board Floppy Disk Drive Controller (FDD Controller). I don't know this for a fact but do you know how to enter the BIOS and all its sub sections?

If not, please provide me with the exact MainBoard model and I'll do my best to provide you with a step by step guide to diagnose things;

Cyber
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Author Comment

by:stevenjs
ID: 12271640
Thank you gentlemen, but the problem was simple and low tech.

I took the PC to a technician to install the motherboard etc. and at Cyber's suggestion to "verify cables," I checked the connections to the floppy, and sure enough, one end of the pin connector was not seated all the way. I soon discovered no amount of coaxing would get it in, but the flat, tape-like cable had another connector further down closer to the mother board, which did fit in all the way and which solved the problem. The drive formats floppies and does everything else it should.

The moral of the story is that experts rush to complicated, high tech problems and answers, when the obvious low tech thing (plug it in ! ;-) is the problem.

regards,

stevenjs
___________________________
"I am but an egg."
--Stranger in a Strange Land
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 12271708
When you connected it to the second plug, there is a twisted part between the two plugs and the drive may be lettered B: now instead of A:. I would advise you to get the cable changed by the tech, as it can cause boot-up problems by looking for drive A while you have only B.
You can check it with diskpart; or with the explorer.
Glad to know it is solved though.

Have a nice day

nobus
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Author Comment

by:stevenjs
ID: 12271786
Nobus,

It's still showing up as A. In any event it is the only plug that fits the drive.

Wouldn't it come up as B right away, or only after rebooting?

stevenjs

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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 12274215
when you switched the cable plug, you did reboot, did you?
So if you have rebooted, and it shows as A: it should be OK.
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