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Floppy Disk Drives

Last updated: 2/5/04

Q. What causes a non-system disk error?

Q.  Why is the floppy drive is not ready even though I put a disk in (A:\ is not accessible)?

A.  Be sure the Standard BIOS Setup is set correctly for your floppy drive (most are 3 1/2 inch, 1.44 MB).  If you have more than one floppy drive, check to see if you have Floppy Drive swapping is not Enabled in CMOS.  Are the floppies write protected; i.e., when looking at the back of the floppy with the metal door down, the little tab in the rectangular hole at the top, left of the floppy blocks light.  In the Windows Explorer, right-click the floppy drive and format the floppy with the transfer system files option selected. Try another floppy drive.  Replace the floppy cable.  Sometimes they get nicked.  If the floppy drive LED stays on all of the time, you have the flat cable plugged in backwards on either the motherboard or drive; the red stripe goes to pin 1.  You could have a bad box of floppies.  Try one of the suspect floppies in another computer after running a virus scan on them.  Throw away that magnetic screwdriver.  They are banned in my shop.

Q. If I put floppy disc in the A: drive, it works Ok. If I then change the floppy to any other one, it continues to see the first one...

A. The Floppy Disk Drive Phantom Directory Problem

Symptoms:  When a floppy disk is inserted into floppy disk drive and the directory is displayed, the directory of the floppy that was previously in the drive is displayed.

Caution:  Writing to the second floppy will damage the data on it.  The write also writes part or all of the previous floppy's FAT and directory sections.

Background: Pressing the eject button to remove the previous floppy normally sends a Disk Change (DC) signal to the floppy drive controller.  If the signal does not get to the controller or the controller is defective, the operating system will not flush the floppy cache'.

Temporary fix: Press Ctrl-C in DOS right after inserting the floppy.  That should flush the cache'.


1. Reseat the floppy cable at both ends.

2. Replace the floppy cable.  To verify, Check pin 34 continuity.

3. Make sure the pins labeled DC on the floppy drive printed circuit board are jumpered.

4. Dirty (or bad) disk change sensor or LED. Remove floppy, gently open door, and blow dust out of the drive. Carefully clean through floppy door with cotton swab and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol (use sparingly; keep away from heads).

5. Bad floppy drive printed circuit board.  Replace drive.

6. Bad floppy disk controller (part of the motherboard now-a-days).  Find a controller card (good luck!), replace the motherboard, or go without.

Q.  What is floppy mode 3 in BIOS?

A.  It is a special 3 1/2" 1.2 MByte floppy used in Japan.

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.