Software diskette archiving advice sought

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dvsjr's picture
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: Jun 8 2004 - 15:14
Posts: 136
Software diskette archiving advice sought

Hi all

I was given several dozen boxes of apple mac software. diskettes in DD HD and ED formats. Original system disks, games, apps, utilities, etc.
I want to archive these onto a more reliable media (putting aside for now the rightful argument that CD and DVD's don't last all that long)
and so I am coming to you all for your thoughts and advice.

First, many of the diskettes are of course old, and I have always been a little unclear as to which diskettes work in which Mac diskette drives.
I have many many many old Macs. So for this project, which Macintosh, with which diskette drive scenario would you recommend,
which utility would you use to image the diskettes, and whatever else you may think is important for this undertaking.

I have several external SCSI drives, SCSI zip drives too which I can use to ferry the imaged diskettes to a newer Mac like my G4 to
burn onto final media (DVD). I can also use ethernet on the home LAN.

thank you in advance


Dog Cow's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 11 2008 - 16:26
Posts: 554
Dog Cow's Recommendations

I've done a few disk archiving projects, so I've *loads* of tips and advice.

First off, LOCK all your disks! Make sure the tab is not covering the hole. Make sure all disks are locked before inserting them in any device!!! Never unlock a disk, even if it you get errors!

Any new disk drive can read any older disk. So, you want to get the newest Mac you can, which has a disk drive. Also, having many disk drives helps, but I'll get to that later. All platinum-colored Macs since the SE/30 onward have a SuperDrive, so you are set there.

Now, for the actually process, I recommend using Apple DiskCopy 6, and making the image files read only and compressed. So, just open up DiskCopy and start imaging away! Make sure you are imaging the disk itself, not it's contents! The point here is to get the original creation/modification dates of the files, AND of the floppy itself. Make sure the disk is locked! Everything matters!

Dealing with errors. It happens. If you can go through even 50 disks without having a disk error, then you are the luckiest Mac owner I know. Here are my tips: temperature matters! If the disks are cold, or are in any way not room temperature (or slightly warmer) you will have a higher chance of disk errors. This is proven! I have had disks which I got of storage and were cold, had a disk error, I set them aside to warm up, and suddenly they worked. So the point here is, make three stacks: one stack is your "stockpile" these are the disks you haven't processed yet. Second stack is "retry" these are the disks which have had errors and you will try them again later in a few minutes. Last stack is "finished" these are the disks which you have successfully archived.

Tip 2 for dealing with errors! Have multiple disk drives! I think this matters. When I did my archiving a few weeks ago, I had 4 disk drives and used them ALL! I had a Power Mac G3 as my main machine with built-in floppy drive, and an external USB floppy drive. The USB drive was used for high-density, 1.44 MB disks because it has fast read times, but can't do 800KB disks. The internal drive was used for 800 KB disks. The second Mac was a Classic with an internal SuperDrive and an external 800KB floppy drive (from a IIgs). In the end, I used all these drives at some point. Some disks were unreadable in one drive, but could be read in another. The more drives you have, the better.

If you _still_ can't solve the disk errors, then just use StuffIt to compress what you can, as long as the disk will mount. Better to have a partial archive of a disk, then no archive. If the disk won't even mount at all.... then you should probably seek some stronger disk utilities if you really want the data off it.

When you're finished, you should have a nice collection of disk images, all in their original state, providing the floppy was never unlocked. Then, make sure you are storing the disks in a clean, non-dusty, and warm location. Best place that meets these requirements? Probably the room you spend a lot of time in, such as a bedroom, or a closet. In any case, if you want these disks to last, they need to be stored in a place which meets those 3 requirements.

eeun's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: Dec 19 2003 - 17:34
Posts: 1895
All very good advice! Just

All very good advice!

Just a caveat, though...looks like dvsjr's disks are DD minimum, and 800K floppies are supported on newer floppy equipped Macs, but...

Any new disk drive can read any older disk

...the exception is Mac 400K floppies, which will require a slightly older Mac (400K support was killed with OS 8 ) for reading.

mmphosis's picture
Last seen: 1 week 6 days ago
Joined: Aug 18 2005 - 16:26
Posts: 437
more reliable media?

magnetic tape: a fairly long time unless accidentally magnetized

new hard drive: three years?!?

old hard drive: more than three years? some errors?

CD-ROM: eight years? errors in a few years? look into "Taiyo Yuden"

micro-fiche stored in metal barrels in a mineshaft: 100 years?


It appears that the question of Long-Term Personal Data Storage is mostly unanswered.

Dog Cow's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 11 2008 - 16:26
Posts: 554
Re: All very good advice! Just

All very good advice!
...the exception is Mac 400K floppies, which will require a slightly older Mac (400K support was killed with OS 8 ) for reading.

No, but that is certainly untrue, for DiskCopy doesn't need to mount the disk in order to image it! So yes, you can't mount 400K disks on newer Mac OS's, but you can always archive them!

lefevere's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Apr 13 2004 - 20:40
Posts: 59
Working with older disk images

For System 6, you should use Disk Copy 4.2 to work with 400K/800K disks and images. This is ideal, since System 6 can read/write 400K disks, which normally use the Macintosh File System (MFS) format. 800K disks use a different format: the Hierarchical File System (HFS). System 6 is fluent in both formats. [It is possible to format 400K disks using HFS, but they can't be used as startup disks.

System 7 is not ideal, since it does not handle the MFS format properly. This is discussed in Apple Knowledge Base article 9502, System 7.x: Limitations on Use of 400k Disks. Nevertheless, you can use Disk Copy 4.2 to work with 400K/800K disks and images with no problems. Disk Copy 6.3.3 works perfectly with 800K disks and images. It allows you to make compressed images and mount images on the Desktop.

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