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Floppy drive not accessing disk

Posted on 2006-07-04
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Hi
My Floppy drive will not access its disks, from XP Home. In XP, when I click the drive it says 'insert a disk into drive a', and if I try to format one it says 'there is no disk- try again' and gives a little buzz. I have checked the cable seating and orientation, BIOS settings, driver info, replaced both FDD and cable and always the same. I have a CD-bootable DOS, but that calls the CD drive a: and I cannot cd to the real FDD. If I boot holding F8, Floppy is an option (BIOS sees it too) but trying to boot from floppy here gives one little buzz then defaults to HDD normal booting. I do get a flash of its light on startup, but just as XP is launching. I used to get a whizz much earlier in the boot phase.
I am just emerging from an XP nightmare, not quite closed in which I changed the Mobo. If you want a good (but long) laugh, see:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/WinXP/Q_21858914.html#17021594
I am actually suspecting the Mobo, but it is new and given the whole OEM thing in the above link I have any number of paranoid suspicions.
Can any kind person offer any advice?
I have given this one 500 points since it is becoming urgent- read the other post and you will see why I am getting tired!
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Question by:justinpaterson
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Expert Comment

by:Will Szymkowski
ID: 17037295
Hello there,

Have you tried a different cable for the floppy drive? Also you might what to try a "known" working Floppy drive before you suspect the mobo.

Keep us updated
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17037367
Quote 'replaced both FDD and cable and always the same. '
The second FDD was brand new. All combinations of cable and FDD had the same symptoms.
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17037852
Verify BIOS settings for FDD (FDD present and set to the right type).
Also, resetting CMOS and re-checking BIOS settings may be a good idea.
Verify that the floppy you use is indeed in working condition and, for bootup purposes, bootable.
/RID
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038062
As I said, indeed I checked the BIOS settings. The only option was to change the 3.5 to something ancient.
I tried initializing the BIOS- interesting. It did affect the FDD. It now seems to detect disks a bit better, and offers to format them, but cannot actually proceed with the format. I thought , OK time for a BIOS update, but the Asus (it is a p4b88-e delux) website wants me to make a floppy!
Nasty little loop!
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17038074
Can you boot from a DOS or win9X bootable floppy?
/RID
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by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038244
Quote 'If I boot holding F8, Floppy is an option (BIOS sees it too) but trying to boot from floppy here gives one little buzz then defaults to HDD normal booting.'
That includes both my DOS and 98 disks.
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17038295
Yea, I thought perhaps the BIOS reset might have caused some change; obviously not.
/RID
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by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038338
I owe you an apology Mr. Rid! I assumed you had misread my initial post. I had not tried the boot from 98 since BIOS reset. It worked- sorry! What next?
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17038374
It worked? Great! Then you know the FDD and the Mobo are OK... If there is a problem still, in windows, you might have to remove and reinstall the FDD in the O/S to have windows to re-detect the unit correctly.

Also, there is a w2k and XP problem with (some) floppies that are formatted by earlier windows versions and DOS; apparently something to do with the media descriptor byte. Formatting the disk in e.g. XP solves this, but if there  are things you don't want to lose on the disk, it's a bit of a catch22. The offending byte can be edited by something like Norton DiskEdit, but that requires cool nerves and know-how (haven't tried it).

Try windows safe mode - can the FDD be used?
/RID (no apology needed :) )
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by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038458
Safe mode still does not see a disk. It just wants to format everything.
How do I remove and reinstall the FDD?
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17038488
I suppose "Add/remove hardware" would be one place to look, but I'm not much of a windows user nowadays.

The formatting thing could be related to the bug/feature/weirdness outlined above. See if you can format a disk and then use it. Or did you mean it still stalls?
/RID
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038531
Sure, with Add/Remove I am sure I could remove it, but I am a bit scared of how I get it back! FDDs do not have dedicated 3rd party drivers to my knowledge that I could point the wizard at...
Still can't format.
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17038551
FDD's don't need drivers, as far as I know, they're accessed through BIOS. Windows should detect the FDD and then adjust to its presence. Any other O/S would... Newer windows versions talk to hardware through a software layer (the HAL, hardware abstraction layer) and this can become corrupt. Perhaps you should repair XP or run SFC, (system file check, if that option is still available). Damaged system files should then be replaced.
/RID
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038556
Update
Just mamaged a successful format in DOS, then tried that same disk in XP, and same old trouble- wants to format, but cannot.
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038575
It has taken a long long time to get to where I am right now with even most of a working PC. See that other post! Too scary to try a repair install until I have verified the Ghost image I have taken of where I am- problem is, I need to boot from floppy to do that since my bootable Ghost CD will not go right now. I could get hold of a Ghost floppy from someone else. I least since the BIOS reset I can boot from floppy. Once I have that one in the bank, I will be more confident.
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17038603
Good thinking... Since formatting in DOS works I'm pretty certain this is NOT a hardware issue, although I cannot explain why XP won't format unless there is a problem with XP floppy control. Take your time, keep us posted. Cheers.
/RID
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038717
Cheers, Rid.
I like the idea of removing/replacing the hardware locally in XP, so if anyone know, please give me your thoughts in the meantime.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 17038795
Just a comment on your Dos bootable CD which maps drive a:. You should still be able to access the floppy with b: in such a situation.

appart from that, have you tried using different floppies? I've had so many problems with floppies where complete packs were unusable! I just try not to use floopies if possible because of their unreliability.
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Expert Comment

by:knoxzoo
ID: 17038871
In Device Manager, expand Floppy disk drives, right click on Floppy disk drive and select Uninstall.  Do the same under Floppy disk controllers (remove Standard floppy disk controller).  

Click on your computer name at the top of the list.  Select Action, Scan for hardware changes.  It will find and reinstall the floppy controller and drive, unless there is a hardware fault of some sort.  

Now try the drive.

Also, check in Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management, Disk Management, and make sure no other drives are trying to use the drive letter A.
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038877
Thanks Rindi. Good to know about the b: allocation. Yeah, I hate floppies too, especially having lived off a Mac for the last year while my PC was bust. Funny, you go in with trepidation, but you do not miss 'em...
Get this....
Before I posted I checked through EE like you do. There was one guy who had (I think a Compaq) case which was blocking his drive in a miniscule way. Now, when I read that, I slid my FDD right inside my (posh !?) Lian-Li case and checked. I tried a couple of positions back until I could no longer actually eject the floppy via the 'remote' button on the Lian-Li. In the course of responding to Rid, I was trying to boot with the FDD  loose, just holding it in place with my finger for insertion/ejection (Madam!). I tried to boot into DOS again and it did not work... Several attempts later, it did. In the position in which the drive WORKS, you cannot actually eject the floppy! Same problem as the other guy- schoolboy stuff. Hey, I have just had to write assembler to wipe my MBR to get the machine right here. Nothing could be that simple right? I can eject disks with a screwdriver and can build some sort of prosthetic for the future.
I wonder why zapping the BIOS helped it along a bit? Maybe just a sppoky coincidence of physical positioning.
Who should get the points for this?
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17038879
Cross posting. Thanks anyway Knoxzoo. Good to know for next time.
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Expert Comment

by:BennyM82
ID: 17048641
Could be the floppy IDE controller on the motherboard acting up.  Easiest option there would be a USB floppy drive.  Or stick what you need on a cd =)
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Expert Comment

by:Marc5000
ID: 17112714
Hi,

FDD's really old, but some people still use them, so hey!

ok, follow these steps and you should be able to get the stuff you need

1) Make sure the floppy was reformatted before written with data. This can sometimes mess the writing process up.
2) Make sure the floppy disk is unlocked. (little notch at the bottom of the disk)
3) Check that the drive is connected with the right pins the righ way on the mobo. And check if its coming up in windows or linux.
3) If that isnt working, then dont fret. Try acessing the disk in BASH or any command prompt.
4) If that still doesnt work, then please, FDDs these days arnt that expensive, some one could easily grab one off ebay or any site, even a shop! (Around $5 - $20 MAX!)

Thats all I can suggest, or try it the floppy disk in another computer of a differnt make to your own.

Regards

Marc5000
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Author Comment

by:justinpaterson
ID: 17114108
Thanks Marc5000
See the post of 07/04/2006 02:00PM PDT....
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