Can’t Access The Floppy Disk

Dear Computer Lady,

I borrowed a floppy drive to open some archived disks made in Windows 98 (?), which were in storage for years.

My computer refuses to recognize the contents and wants to reformat them and destroy the data.

What software can I use to read these disks? My computer runs Win 7. The disk contents are from 1998 to 2004.


Dear Angie,

I don’t have a software solution to your problem because it is probably a hardware problem that is preventing your computer from accessing the files on the floppy disks.

This inability to read the disks can be the result of one of two problems. Either the drive that was used to write the contents of the disk was slightly off track, or the years of storage has degraded the disk.

If your problem is that the floppy drive that was used to create the disks was slightly off track, the only thing you can try is to use the original floppy drive to get your files. What used to happen with floppy drives is that as they got older, the read/write heads would drift away from their original position, and write your data in a slightly different location. This didn’t cause a problem as long as you are using the same drive to both read and write your disks.

If your data is extremely important, you can try sending them away to a data recovery company. Just go to Google and search for “Data Recovery”.


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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • Larry Sementini
    • September 15, 2012

    I’d try to find someone with a different floppy drive if they would allow you to use it. Also, you might find a sympathetic teacher or computer lab person who would allow you the use of a floppy drive reader. Otherwise I’d go for the external USB drive floppy read/write gadget, as Computer Lady suggested.

    • DiggerP
    • September 15, 2012

    Hi Angie,

    In addition to Elizabeth’s answer I’d like to offer a
    few more possible solutions:

    The problem with not being able to “read” the contents of the floppy may also be due to the USB interface,so my first choice would be to try the floppies on an older computer with an internal floppy drive and an older OS ,like eg XP.

    While on this system you could try the following utilities to rescue the data on the floppies if still not recognized by Windows.
    FlopShow DataRecovery Direct download link

    There’s also a relatively inexpensive service from

    One of the problems with floppies is described here:
    Floppy Disk is Not Accessible, Not Formatted, or Not Recognized by Windows
    This suggests the use of DiskProbe which is part of XP Pro and Server 2003 System Tools ,but this solution
    may well go beyond your expertise.

    Apart from using a friend’s older computer ,you might try a local computer store and see if the disks can be read.If so check what they’ll charge for doing your collection.
    If outrageous and the data is valuable to you, buy an old computer with working Floppy drive.
    I’ve picked up older computers for free or bought some
    IBM NetVista with XP Pro for $50 which could be much less than a transfer done by a commercial outfit.

    Just some ideas 🙂


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