Classicamiga Forum Retro Edition
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Thread: Floppy degrading
Teho 01:58 15th February 2015
I was just curious, as we all know floppies degrade over time and become useless and in fact several original floppies from back in the day are already useless. I'm not much of a tech-head when it comes to this sort of thing though and was wondering, is it just the contents ie the magnetic information on the floppy that is degraded so that you could just format and reuse it, or is the floppy physically destroyed and just to be binned when it happens?

Would be good to know if I basically need to replace my old floppies with new ones. In that case, where is the best place to get new Amiga DDs these days?

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What, I'm the only one not busy and able to post on geek forums on valentine's?
Stephen Coates 09:18 15th February 2015
Hi Teho.

I'm not entirely sure. I have wondered this myself. I would expect that the data would degrade before the actual disk itself, but I'm sure the disk will degrade with time.
Kin Hell 10:27 15th February 2015
Hiya Teho.

The definitive answer is quite simple. Floppy Disks work on the basis of Magnetism. It's the magnetic properties of the Floppy Disk itself that dies & this causes them not to work anymore.

This is why you should never store Floppy Disks alongside other Magnetic fields such as a Monitor, or speakers & especially CRT based display devices. Their Magnetic fields will destroy Floppy Disks in a very short time.

Damaged Disks are usually where the heads hit the surface of the Disk; Dirty drive mechanisms; Ejecting too soon after the Disk Drive light has gone out; Ejecting the Disk whilst the drive is still reading/writing to the Disk.
Some Format tools can mark out bad blocks allowing you to re-format. Ok if you are just copying single files to them but for DMS & other de-archiving progs when writing to Floppy, they need the whole disk to complete their function. If it manages to de-compress & write the file, chances are the data on the damaged sector of the Floppy is duff anyhow. This is where you get to the binning bit.

DD & HD Floppy Disks are difficult to source these days. I wish I could be more helpful than saying Google is your best friend.
Stephen Coates 11:32 15th February 2015
Does anyone find that old floppies are better than newer ones?

In the last ten years or so, when I've used modern floppy disks, I've found them to be quite unreliable. But I have disks which are as old as me which still work fine and have been very reliable. Although they are starting to degrade a bit now.
Teho 20:42 16th February 2015
So my old disks can't be trusted and I should get some new ones then, just in case. Thanks for the help.
Harrison 11:25 17th February 2015
I think it is getting to the point where floppy disks are becoming too old to rely upon them for anything more the nostalgia.

Regrading older floppies, I agree Steve. Disks I purchased back in the early 90's are mostly all still working, whereas a few I have from later (97 ish) have failed more). I think it's much like most media. As the hardware ages, companies find cheaper ways to manufacture media, leading to lower quality products.

Now is a great time because of the Gotek Floppy drive emulator. They are cheap and a direct replacement for any floppy drive, storing up to 1000 disk images per usb stick meaning the adf files are portable and easy to backup via pc, but to the Amiga and other retro computers they just see them as real disks. For me, combining third with my KryoFlux it's brilliant, as I can archive my original disks, then run the archived disk images.
Teho 17:59 17th February 2015
I've considered getting a floppy emulator for the Amiga, already have one for the C64. But, I'd still want working, reliable floppies as well as half the fun with having these old systems is showing them off to others like my nephews who thinks it's fun to see that stuff. And I would much rather have original hardware when doing that.
Tiago 11:56 18th February 2015
I still have Disks from 1989 and working fine. 90 % of the disks i still have from that time, still work.
Gotek is good, but no device can replace the mechanical feeling of a real floppy. Did you ever open a floppy drive, did you ever look inside it?
It's amazing, very nice hardware. Touch, sound, even smell, all of it is part of the the original. Reading Adf is great, if you have an A500... but with a A1200 with an expansion card, why would we need a Gotek if you can have whdload? Is it because it's faster to pass files from an amiga to other? I am sure there is a lot of good situations for it, but i can't see them. When o want to load files to my Miggy, i put the HD in Pc with winuae. Bang, is fast and clean.

And does the gotek create the adf, or it just read and updates it?
Harrison 11:38 20th February 2015
Gotek emulates a floppy drive, so you can use blank ADFs in it and format them in Workbench as if you just inserted a blank disk, and swap disks on the fly.

You can't however create a new ADF from the Amiga unless you had some blank adf files on the usb stick (AFAIK), so you would need to create a few on the PC before hand. The only limiting part of the device would be converting original floppy disks into ADFs for use with the Gotek. It can't help with this, which is why I own a KryoFlux. You can also create ADFs from floppy disks on the Amiga using workbench utilities, or using Amiga Forever.

I agree that the Gotek is more useful on an A500 or A600 than it is on an A1200, hence the reason I have one in my A600 and not my A1200. For the A1200 I use a PCMCIA CF card reader for quickly moving files to the Amiga. Removing the HDD from the Amiga is a bit annoying, however I've been planning to mount the IDE to CF card adapter in my A600 at the edige of the case so the card can be accessed externally, fixing that issue.

Personally I'm slowly planning to get rid of most of my floppy disks (I have thousands of them in about 30 disk boxes), plus hundreds of boxed games, all taking up space I don't have. As time permits I want to archive these with my Gotek into ADFs then I can offer the original disks up to others to enjoy. I will also plan to share the created ADF archive with you all here eventually.

The same thing is quickly happening with most retro systems now. With the Everdrives you can have your complete game collection on an SD card in the console, and never need to change a game cart again. Saves wear on the hardware and you can backup your game saves if you wanted. I still like to play using original cartridges sometimes though as it does feel special.

And even older CD based consoles are removing the need for their original media, with HDD installation for games.. and with things like the Dreamcast now having a GD-Rom emulator to load games from memory card/sdcard.

This will all safeguard and push to archive the software on all these systems even more than we have ever managed before. Plus without the moving parts in drives the hardware might live even longer. Plus the great people in the retro community with soldering and electronics skills are amazing because they can repair and restore even the most damaged PCB or motherboard back to full working order, meaning we might even be using Amiga's and other retro systems when they are 40 years old.
Phantom 14:32 13th March 2015
If you take care of your floppies, then there is nothing to be afraid of. Almost all of my old 20-25 year old floppies working perfectly, probably because they were storaged in their boxes and in dry places, with no magnetic fields around and/or humid etc. Even my Amstrad CPC 6128 disks are working.

As for Gotek; ugly and doesn't have anything to do with Amiga. The internal Amiga disk drive is a mandatory component of the Amiga's heart. I cannot live without hearing the unique noise the the floppy drive makes, simple as that.
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