Formatting and Copying Floppy Disks

Formatting and Copying Floppy Disks

By the End of This Tutorial, You’ll Be able To:
 Format brand new floppy disks, so you can store files on them
 Figure out what kind of floppy disk drives you have
 Reuse a floppy disk
 Duplicate disks for fun and profitTo place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to
GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183
Then text the name of the Project topic, email address and your names to 08060565721.  

In addition to acting as second-rate Frisbees and first-rate drink coasters, floppy disks store files and enable you to transfer files from one computer to another. Before you can use them in this capacity, however, you need to know how to format the disks (prepare them to store data) and copy disks.

Making a Floppy Disk Useful
You get a brand new box of disks. Can you use them to store information? Maybe. If the disks came pre-formatted, you can use them right out of the box. If they are not formatted, you’ll have to format them, with the help of DOS or Windows.

Formatting divides a disk into small storage areas and creates a file allocation table (FAT) on the disk. Whenever you save a file to disk, the parts of the file are saved in one or more of these storage areas. The FAT functions as a classroom seating chart, telling your computer the location of information in all of its storage areas.

Format Once
You normally format a disk only once: when it is brand new. If you format a disk that contains data, that data is erased during the formatting process. Before you format a disk, make sure the disk is blank or that it contains data you will never again need.

Before You Begin Formatting Disks

Before you start formatting disks, ask yourself a couple questions:
 What kind of floppy disk drives do I have? What capacity is each disk drive? Is it high-density (1.2MB or 1.44MB) or double-density (360K or 720K)? The documentation that came with your computer will tell you whether you have high- or double-density drives. If you have DOS 6.0 or later, enter msd at the DOS prompt; this runs the Microsoft Diagnostics program, which tells you the floppy disk drive types you have.

Low-density 1s Obsolete
Low-density drives are rare. If you have a new computer, you can safely assume that you have high-density drives. However, low- or double-density disks are still common.

What kind of floppy disks do I want to format?
Do you have high-density or double-density disks? Check the disks or the box in which the disks came.
Why does this matter? There are two reasons. First, you can’t format a high-density disk in a double-density disk drive. For example, you cannot format a 1.2MB disk in a 360K drive. Second, you can format a double-density disk in a high-density drive if you tell your computer specifically to do that. For example, you can format a 360K disk in a 1.2MB disk drive, if you know what you’re doing.

Formatting Diskettes in Windows 95
In Windows 95, you can format disks using either My Computer or Windows Explorer. I prefer using My Computer, because it’s lying there on my desktop. Here’s what you do:
1. Insert a blank disk in drive A or B, and close the drive door, if necessary.
2. Double-click the My Computer icon. A window appears, displaying icons for all the drives on your computer.
3. Click the icon for the drive you’re using to format the disk: A or B. (DO NOT double-click the drive icon; Windows 95 cannot format a disk whose contents are displayed.)
4. Open the File menu and select Format. The Format dialog box appears, as shown here.
5. Open the Capacity drop-down list, and select the capacity of the disk. For example, for a high-capacity 3 Vz” disk, you would select 1.44MB (3 1/2n).
6. If you are formatting an unformatted disk, click Full under Format type. If you are reformatting a formatted disk (to refresh it), click Quick (erase).
7. (Optional) Click inside the Label text box, and type a label for the disk (up to 11 characters). If you add a disk label, the label will appear next to the drive’s icon in Explorer and in My Computer.
8. (Optional) Click any of the following options to turn them on:
No label tells Explorer not to add a label to this disk.
Display summary when finished displays a dialog box at the end of the format operation indicating how much storage space is available on the disk and whether the disk has any defects.
Copy system files makes the floppy disk bootable. That is, you can stick it in drive A and start your computer with it.
9. Click the Start button. My Computer displays a dialog box, showing the format progress. If you turned on Display summary when finished, a dialog box appears when the formatting is complete.
10. Wait until the formatting is complete, then click the Close button. You’re returned to the Format dialog box, where you can format another floppy disk.
11. Click the Close button.

Quick Formatting
To quickly format an unformatted disk in Windows 95, simply insert the disk, and then double-click its icon. Windows displays a series of dialog boxes to lead you through the process.

Formatting Diskettes in Windows 3.1
Formatting disks in Windows 3.1 is almost as easy as doing it in Windows 95. Here’s what you do:
1. Start Windows and double-click the Main group icon.
2. Double-click the File Manager icon. The File Manager window appears.
3. Insert a blank disk in drive A or B, and close the drive door, if necessary.
4. Open the Disk menu and select Format Disk. The Format Disk dialog box appears.
5. Click the arrow to the right of the Disk In option, and select the drive that contains the blank disk.
6. Click the arrow to the right of the Capacity option, and select the capacity of the disk.
7. Click OK. The Confirm Format Disk dialog box appears, warning you that formatting will erase any data on the disk and asking if you want to proceed.
8. Click Yes. File Manager formats the disk. When done, File Manager displays a message asking if you want to format another disk.
9. Click No to quit or Yes to format another disk.

Get Your Capacities Straight
Disk capacity, not drive capacity. If you are formatting a double-density disk (360K or 720K) in a high-density drive (1.2M or 1.44M), make sure you select the capacity of the disk, not the drive.
Using the DOS FORMAT Command
If you picked up your computer at a garage sale, and you don’t have either version of Windows yet, you can still format disks with DOS. Insert the new, blank disk you want to format in the floppy drive, and then perform one of the following steps:
 If the disk and drive capacities match, type format a: (if the disk is in drive A) or format b: (if the disk is in drive B), and press Enter. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen.
 If you’re formatting a double-density disk in a high-density drive, use the /F switch to specify the disk capacity. For example, to format a 360K disk in a 1.2MB drive, type format a: /f:360 and press Enter. To format a 720K disk in a 1.44MB drive, type format b: /f:720 and press Enter.

Always Specify a Drive Letter
Format plus drive letter. Always follow the FORMAT command with the letter of the drive you want to use. With some versions of DOS, if you enter the FORMAT command without specifying a drive letter, DOS may attempt to format drive C, your computer’s hard drive. This could destroy your hard drive data.

Reusing Disks without Losing Data
Once you’ve formatted a floppy disk, you usually don’t have to format it again. If you want to reuse the disk, make sure you no longer need the files it contains, and then delete those files.

If you start having problems with a disk, you might be able to fix it by reformatting the disk. Perform the same steps given earlier to format the disk in Windows or DOS. Keep in mind that formatting destroys any data on the disk, so if the disk contains files you need, copy those files to another floppy disk or your hard disk before reformatting.

Disk Errors
Several factors might cause disk errors. The read/write head inside the disk drive might go out of alignment over years of use, storage areas on the disk might start to go bad, or the data on the disk may have become corrupted by dirt or some magnetic field. If you get disk errors with several floppydisks, have the disk drive repaired or replaced. If you’re having trouble with a singledisk and reformatting doesn’t seem to help, trash the disk.

Copying Disks for Friends and Colleagues
Although illegal, the main reason people copy floppy disks is to pirate software. For ten bucks, you can make Christmas presents for the entire family! I’m not going to lecture you on the evils of this practice. You know it’s wrong, and if you thought there was any way you might get caught, you’d probably stop. However, I will say that the only reason you should copy floppy disks is so you can put the original program disks in a safe place and use the copies for installing and using the program. Having done my duty for the software industry, let us proceed.

Get Some Blank Disks
To copy disks, first obtain a set of blank disks that are the same size and density as the program disks you want to copy. You cannot copy low-density disks to high-density disks or vice versa. And you can’t copy a 51/4-inch disk to a 31/2-inch disk either. Don’t worry about formatting the disks; your computer can format the disks during the copy operation. However, the copying will go faster if the disks are formatted.
While you’re at it, write-protect the original disks (the ones you want to copy, not the blank disks). This prevents you from accidentally copying a blank disk over an original disk and ruining it.

Copying Disks in Windows 95
If you’re using Windows 95, you can copy disks using either My Computer or Windows Explorer. In My Computer, take the following steps:
1. Insert the original disk you want to copy into one of the floppy disk drives.
2. Double-click My Computer.
3. Click the icon for the drive that contains the disk.
4. Open the File menu and select Copy Disk. A dialog box appears, asking which drive you want to copy from and which drive you want to copy to.
5. Click the same drive letter in the Copy from and Copy to lists.
6. Click the Start button.
7. Wait until a message appears telling you to insert the destination disk.
8. Remove the original disk and insert the destina¬tion disk.
9. Click OK, and then wait until the copying is complete.

Dual Drive Copy
If youhave two floppy disk drives of the same size and capacity, insert the original disk in drive A and the blank disk in drive B. In the Copy from list, click drive A, and in the Copy to list, click drive B.

Copying Disks in Windows 3.1

To copy disks in Windows 3.1, use File Manager. The procedure you follow is about the same as the Windows 95 disk copy procedure, although it’s equally uninteresting. Here’s what you do:
1. Open the Main program group window, and double-click the File Manager icon.
2. Insert the original disk in drive A or B, and close the drive door if there is one.
3. Open the Disk menu and select Copy Disk. If you have two floppy drives, the Copy Disk dialog box appears, asking you to specify the source drive and destination. If you have only one floppy drive, skip to step 7.
4. From the Source In list box, select the letter of the drive that contains the original disk.
5. Select the same drive from the Destination In list box. (Don’t worry, File Manager will tell you to switch disks at the appropriate time.)
6. Select OK. The Confirm Copy Disk dialog box appears.
7. Select Yes to continue.
8. When you are instructed to insert the Source diskette, choose OK since you already did this in step 2. The Copying Disk box appears, and the copy process begins.
9. When you are instructed to insert the destination disk, remove the original disk from the drive and insert the blank disk. Then choose OK to continue. The Copying Disk box disappears when the process is complete.

Copying Disks with DOS

Once you have the blank disks, making copies is easy (but not very interesting). Here’s what you do:
1. Type diskcopy a: a: (or diskcopy b: b:) and press Enter.
2. Insert the original program disk into the drive you specified (a: or b:), and close the drive door if there is one.
3. Press any key. DOS reads the information from the disk and stores it in memory.
4. When DOS prompts you, insert one of the blank disks in the specified drive and press any key. DOS writes the information stored in memory onto the blank disk.
5. Follow the on-screen messages, swapping disks into and out of the disk drive as instructed, until you’ve created a copy of each program disk.

Copying Programs from Your Hard Drive
New computers always come with a bunch of software on the hard disk. The manufacturer may also include a CD or diskettes containing the same software, just in case anything happens to the program on your hard disk…or, he might not.
Can you copy a program from the hard drive to a set of floppy disks? Usually not. When you install most Windows programs, the installation utility typically places files in the Windows folder, the Windows/System folder, and any other folders you’d never think of looking in. Unless you’re a super sleuth, you’ll never find all the files that make up a program. Another problem is that most programs can’t fit on a single floppy disk.
Some small DOS programs install all their program files in a separate directory on your hard disk. To copy a program such as this to a floppy disk, simply use My Computer or File Manager to copy the files

The Least You Need To Know
Few people use floppy disks anymore. They buy everything on CD-ROM and store all their data on the hard disk. When you can’t avoid working with a floppy disk, keep the following important points in mind:
 You can’t use a new floppy disk until you’ve formatted it.
 Formatting destroys any data on the disk, so avoid reformatting disks.
 To format or copy disks in Windows 95, run My Computer, open the File menu, and select the Format or Copy Disk command. Follow the on-screen instructions.
 To format a disk with DOS, insert the disk and enter format a: or format b:.
 To format or copy disks in Windows 3.1, run File Manager and find the appropriate command on the Disk menu.
 Copies of your favorite software make affordable Christmas presents, but they’re illegal.

To place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to
GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183
Then text the name of the Project topic, email address and your names to 08060565721.  

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