Bad floppies :(

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Dominus
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:32 am

Bad floppies :(

Post by Dominus » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:10 am

Got my Kryo last year and finally had time to get it up and running and starting to copy things.
After only two games (Ultima VII -Serpent Isle in Spanish and Ultima Underworld I) I'm already disheartened by the state of the floppy disks :(
The Spanish Serpent Isle had three disks (out of 8) that had bad tracks and the Ultima Underworld seemingly a bad track on the last floppy. If this keeps up I'm crying over my perfect looking bad disks :(

Curiously the Underworld track got *better* when I reread the track in preservation mode only - is that usual that another try might work better?

SomeGuy
Posts: 87
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:18 pm

Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by SomeGuy » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:38 am

It happens that in some cases disks will start to read better after having been read a number of times. I'm not sure of the exact reasons, perhaps a thin hardly visible residue. But you have to approach that carefully because you want to avoid scratching it up.

I find it invaluable to throughly clean the disk first. Even new-ish looking disks can have junk inside the jacket that will rip them up. Almost every time I decided to cut corners and plop a perfect looking disk directly in the drive, I wind up kicking myself.

It is a good idea to start with preservation dump, because then you can feed it back to the kryoflux or other tools to carefully determine the next plan for attack.

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mr.vince
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Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by mr.vince » Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:16 pm

May I assume that these disks are HD? HD disks fail much sooner than DD ones. This has to do with the fact that HD disks are much closer to what's physically possible.

Dominus
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Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by Dominus » Wed Mar 02, 2016 9:49 pm

Thanks SomeGuy, seems I need to look up how to clean those things without destroying them.

mr.vince, yes, HD disks. Thanks for the information.

SomeGuy
Posts: 87
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:18 pm

Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by SomeGuy » Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:59 am

There are various cleaning methods out there.

The more "professional" data recovery methods usually involve cutting up disk jackets, but obviously we don't want to do that to collectible factory-original disks.

I'd advise against applying alcohol to a spinning disk. As I've sadly observed, this can increase the friction between the jacket and the "cookie" surface, and cause an ugly mess. I would only suggest that as a last resort if a disk has been cleaned with other methods first, and a specific track is giving errors with no dirt/residue visible on the disk.

Although not terribly professional, I've adopted a method of washing with tap water that, for me, works well with 5.25" and 8" disks. (It is difficult to dry 3.5" disks). Basically run warm (hot enough you can comfortably touch it - and no soap!) water down through the hub while propping the jacket around the hub open, and a bit around the head opening. If done carefully, I can avoid getting the label wet. Top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right. That rinses off the entire disk surface and the jacket interior as well. The trick then is drying, which I do by gently propping up the jacket with q-tips around the hub (too much pressure can dent the cookie), and trying to avoid touching the magnetic part of the cookie. Then I put in in front of a fan, or I also happen to have an air purifier that blows air in them nicely. I've also found it is a good idea to re-locate the q-tips after an hour or because the jacket can on rare occasions with low quality disks (WABASH!) sort of stick to the cookie. Don't throw them in a drive until the cookie manually spins freely and you see no moisture on the surface. I have had no problems with any kind of mineral residue - or at least infinitely less than than that of the dirt/sand/residue/debris/coffee/etc that so often hides inside a disk jacket.

After all of that, I'd following up with a simple manual visual inspection of the disk surface and touch up any remaining spots with a q-tip and alcohol.

Of course if anyone has a better idea I'm all ears. :)

Dominus
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:32 am

Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by Dominus » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:20 am

thanks, got to try that.

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IFW
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Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:42 pm

Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by IFW » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:33 am

Always keep all stream dumps of disks you want to rescue.
The recovery capability of the software is constantly improving under the hood and a new version of the software may give better results from a bad disk than an older one.

Dominus
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:32 am

Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by Dominus » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:34 am

also thanks, good to know!

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IFW
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Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by IFW » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:36 am

...and a new version should be available sometime in the near future :)

spags
Posts: 90
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Location: Australia

Re: Bad floppies :(

Post by spags » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:05 pm

I believe when "head clog" was suggested, it was implied that your drive heads were clogged (due to a contaminated floppy). You will likely need to clean the floppy, but you will also need to clean the actual heads on your drive(s) as well.

In regards to floppy media cleaning, I have used a variation of the non-destructive method suggested by Someguy. That suggestion was essentially an entire rinse of the media surface (trying to keep the label dry). I hadn't considered that as a possibility before, but I guess that would work as a quick and easy fix. The method I have used is much more painful and slow, but I have used it multiple times without issue (mostly on 5.25 floppies, but some 3.5 as well).

I do use isopropyl alcohol, but diluted with water. I also used cotton buds/q-tips to physically wipe the surface of the media, so there is some risk involved and one has to be gentle and careful. I moisten the bud with the iso mixture and gently wipe the media up and down through the media access hole. The bud should be used almost parallel to the media surface, not perpendicular to it. After several back and forth strokes, examine the surface for any fibres that have dislodged from the bud and make sure they are wiped away. Then blow dry the damp surface with your breath and/or by waving the disk in the air. Don't use something like a hair dryer - you will melt the media. A non-heated pedestal fan will probably work well. There may be some marks on the media from the mixture drying out. I have never had a problem with these but if it concerns you, then you can wipe that section of the media again. Once that section is dry, rotate the media one small fraction and repeat the entire process until the entire surface is complete (and for both sides). A good trick to know when you are finished is to start with the index hole visible so that when you reach it again, you know you are done. It is very much an exercise in patience.

The mixture will tend to spread and be wicked away by the protective mesh of the floppy jacket so try to avoid getting it wet (mostly impossible). The more of this that occurs, the more difficult it becomes to rotate the media. Do stop if there is too much resistance to your turning otherwise you will crease and/or rip the media. Prop the jacket away from the central hub using buds just like Someguy suggested. Let it dry for 24 hours before resuming the clean.

One you are satisfied both sides and the entire surface has been cleaned, allow the floppy to dry completely, again for 24 or even 48 hours. You must prop open the jacket again to ensure it all dries out thoroughly. I usually put it all in a snap-lock bag along with a little silica gel pack to facilitate the drying. When you think it is dry, turn the media through multiple revolutions to look for the slightest sign of dampness through the access holes - both sides. The media should have one or two millimetres of give from the very centre of the jacket. Make sure it is not resisting in either dimension (which may still indicate dampness) before attempting a dump.

This will clean your media surface, but unlike Someguy's suggestion, any gunk in the jacket itself will still remain. So anything like dirt or cigarette smoke will begin to spread over your surface again - preserve sooner rather than later. Really, one should probably use distilled water for all this, but tap water works fine in my experience.

As for cleaning the drive heads, if you don't have one of those cleaning disks (which some frown upon anyway) then you will need to clean with isopropyl alcohol and buds. This would/should have been detailed multiple times in these forums, but as a quick guide, carefully raise the upper head arm away (it should pivot) and latch it as best as possible that way somehow (I use a bud stick), especially for 3.5 heads as the smaller arm/springs make it very easy to crash back down onto the lower head. Gently wipe both the upper and lower head(s) (they will look like a white square with a thin black strip through it) with an isopropyl bud along the direction of the black strip until it looks clean. Don't scrub unless you want a fancy paperweight. While the arm is raised, I also apply a smear of Vaseline along the rail that keeps the arm raised from the bottom head, as well as on the stepper worm gears. I don't know if Vaseline is recommended for this, but it works for me. Maybe torch lubricant is a better option? Use sparingly anyway as you don't want a dollop falling onto your clean disk or heads during operation or when the weather warms up. Carefully lower the arm back, reconnect everything and run a few track calibration tests from Kryoflux to ensure the lubricant spreads around.

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