Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

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Here's a little trick that I have been using since the old days...

Ever encounter a floppy disk that keeps giving you an error in the same sector no matter how many times you format it?

WE ALL HAVE!

The possible solution?

A COMPLETE ERASE.

Also known as Degaussing, it will permanently erase a disk and bring it to a state of no format.

Formatting a disk is an exact process depending on your PC but the end result is the same. The process of formatting will come across the same magnetic problem on the disk and will cause it to get an error in the same place or multiple places. It's caused by a slightly stronger or weaker magnetic field on several spots on the disk.

This is why you should never keep your disks inside your disk drives for too long, and why tape heads need to be demagnetized. When they are not, you will find that the tape head will erase the spot of music where the tape rests on the tape head.

The same goes for disk drives and floppies.

Degaussing will make all magnetism on the disk disappear, and ready to be formatted and be error free.

To do this:

Buy a RadioShack Bulk Tape Eraser.

There are two models, one for cassette tapes, and one for VHS tapes.

I suggest you get the one for cassette tapes since the one that erases VHS tapes cannot be held on for too long and will overheat easily.

The catalog number is 44-232.

Search on Ebay for "bulk tape eraser 44-232" and you'll see many matches. It's not hard to find.

To Degauss your floppy disk, hold it in your hand and turn on the tape eraser and make a circular motion for a few seconds, then while keeping it on, move the tape eraser away from the floppy and then turn it off.

Repeat this on the other side.

I prefer to do this twice on each side of the floppy disk.

This process works on both 3.5" and 5.25" disks.

If afterwards, you still get errors on your floppy disk, then I suggest you put your floppy through a really good and strong paper shredder certified for floppy disks, because at this point, NOTHING in the world can fix the disk.

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amauget's picture
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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

Thanks insanitor !
I used to do the same with magnets.

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Antony
Apple II forever

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

We're actually doing the opposite, right? Using a magnet would magnetize the disk. Degaussing is De-magnetizing the disk, I suppose.

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

Maybe I was doing it wrong but I never was able to erase a disk with a magnet. I mad some on a speaker and they kept working, I stuck one to my fridge with a really strong magnet for a year and it still worked.
Accidentally leaving one om an Apple Graphic tablet did did it though I had't wanted to wipe that particular disk.

amauget's picture
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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

In my comprehension, the magnet was supposed to generate mangetic fields, enemies of the disk.

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Antony
Apple II forever

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

Some time ago I bought a lot of used apple disks with programs. They gave me errors and sometimes didn't load at all. My solution was cleaning the disks - put some alcohol on a rag, and move the disk while leaving the rag on the disk opening. The white rag went grey with dirt. Did that to all disks on both sides, they started working again.
Cheers

Javster

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

The bulk tape eraser is an electromagnet. Using the process I described, as you keep the eraser on and near the disk it will become magnetized. But when you move the eraser away from the disk while keeping it on it demagnetizes the disk.

In watchmaking, (the last trade I was officially part of) there are instances where demagnetizing a mechanical watch was required for either demagnetizing the hairspring (balance spring) or to demagnetize the entire watch to remove magnetism on the watch which can create problems in accuracy.

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Joined: Apr 21 2013
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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

The Bulk tape eraser used an alternating current/voltage and hence magnetic field, the way it is meant to be used is to start the demagnetization close to the disk/tape and slowly move it away. I was taught to also move the eraser in circles as you do this, the complete process should only take 30 seconds or less.

A magnet can work but as its a fixed polarity you run the risk of magnetizing the disk/tape with the same polarity as the end of the magnet you are using. From experience a magnet can work to erase the data but you run the risk of permanently magnetizing the disk so that it can't be written to or formatted unless a bulk eraser is used afterwards.

Cheers, Martin...

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

mnc1959 wrote:

The Bulk tape eraser used an alternating current/voltage and hence magnetic field, the way it is meant to be used is to start the demagnetization close to the disk/tape and slowly move it away. I was taught to also move the eraser in circles as you do this, the complete process should only take 30 seconds or less.

A magnet can work but as its a fixed polarity you run the risk of magnetizing the disk/tape with the same polarity as the end of the magnet you are using. From experience a magnet can work to erase the data but you run the risk of permanently magnetizing the disk so that it can't be written to or formatted unless a bulk eraser is used afterwards.

Cheers, Martin...

There's nothing in your post which I have not already mentioned already but thanks for the help. Smile

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

By gradually moving the disc away from the VERY STRONG AC magnetic field of the degausser, you are overcoming the natural hysteresis loop of the magnetic particles themselves, which in an every decreasing loop insures that every particle is zeroed out, no information will remain there. Erased, permanently! No program or forensic technique can recover ANY usable charges from a properly demagnetized tape or disc.

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

Sometimes the disk are worn out, or have manufacturing defect, or even a physical defect from a pointed object. When you look at them you can actually see the separate tracks in some spots. They were read over and over in some areas. When you manually move the media around in a circle you can sometimes see a spot like what a grain sand looks like when it flaws a paint job. And last but not least someone stabbed the disk with a pencil or pen.

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Re: Get rid of errors on your floppy disks. FIX THEM!

mnc1959 wrote:

the way it is meant to be used is to start the demagnetization close to the disk/tape and slowly move it away. I was taught to also move the eraser in circles as you do this, the complete process should only take 30 seconds or less.

I already said this...

insanitor wrote:

To Degauss your floppy disk, hold it in your hand and turn on the tape eraser and make a circular motion for a few seconds, then while keeping it on, move the tape eraser away from the floppy and then turn it off.

mkinn wrote:

By gradually moving the disc away from the VERY STRONG AC magnetic field of the degausser, you are overcoming the natural hysteresis loop of the magnetic particles themselves, which in an every decreasing loop insures that every particle is zeroed out, no information will remain there. Erased, permanently! No program or forensic technique can recover ANY usable charges from a properly demagnetized tape or disc.

Does everybody in this forum have some kind of repeating problem? Is there an echo in here?

Here is what I said:

insanitor wrote:

A COMPLETE ERASE.

Also known as Degaussing, it will permanently erase a disk and bring it to a state of no format.

People are just repeating what I posted.

This is a thread about fixing disks that cannot be formatted without errors. It is not about data recovery.

We make sure we have data by backing it up.

If there are errors on a disk with data on it then trying to format the disk will also destroy data on it wouldn't you say?

Here was my introduction:

insanitor wrote:

Here's a little trick that I have been using since the old days...

Ever encounter a floppy disk that keeps giving you an error in the same sector no matter how many times you format it?