The a: (floppy) drive
While the a: drive is being replaced in terms of storage (people prefer burners), it is still used to boot the computer if things go wrong. It is important to know how to troubleshoot an a: drive.
How to tell if the floppy drive is broken
- You attempt to read data off of a disk, and get an error such as "Cannot read from specified device. Disk may need to be formatted" or something similar.
- You have attempted to use at least THREE floppies, and continue to get the error.
- You try the floppies in another, known good drive, and they work fine.
- You can not format the disk
- Win9x you attempt to read of format from DOS and it fails
- Using a known good boot disk and the bios is set to boot to floppy or removable device 1st and it fails to boot to the media
One of two things may be
wrong: The cable is loose; either at the motherboard or the drive, or the
drive itself is bad.
- Re-connect the cable to the floppy and to the motherboard, and make sure the connections are solid.
- Make sure to not reverse the orientation of the cable when connecting. Thus, remember where the red stripe on the cable is. In MOST cases the red line is AWAY from the power. Opposite from the CDROM drive that is towards the power.
- You cannot orient the cable the wrong way.
- A missing pin in the row of connecting pins on the drive corresponds with a blocked hole on the end of the cable left, below).
- On the motherboard, notice the orientation of the red stripe on the cable. Pin 1 will be labeled next to the floppy controller on the motherboard (below, right).
Test the floppies again. If
you get the same error(s), the cable is not to blame
- Obtain a known good floppy drive (call the helpdesk or myself). Attach it to the cable and power supply in the computer in question.
- Test the floppies. Are the errors coming up?
- If yes, then there may be a general cable problem, floppy controller issue, or motherboard issue.
- If the errors don't come up, the student needs to buy a new floppy drive. Wal-Mart and Office Max have them for less than twenty dollars.
A case in which the floppy drive acts like its broken but really
In order for the floppy drive to be able to communicate with the computer, the computer has to know it's there, and has to know that it is a 1.4 mb floppy drive. The responsibility for this function in with the computer's BIOS (Basic Input Output System) which, amongst many other functions, detects all drives in the computer. If the specs for the drive are improperly configured, the drive will not operate. In addition, the BIOS data is maintained by a battery on the motherboard. If that battery weakens, it can affect the operation of the drive. Here's how to tell if the floppy drive is malfunctioning because of the BIOS.
- Power the computer on.
Follow the onscreen directions to get to the BIOS.
- You may have to press the f1, f2, f10,
- Below are two common BIOS versions you may encounter.
Both BIOS screens specify an incorrect floppy drive
- In the AMI BIOS on the left, the Diskette Drive A: is set to 3.5 inch, 720 KB. It should read 3.5 inch, 1.44 mb.
- If the storage capacity of the drive is set incorrectly, the drive will not operate.
- In the Phoenix BIOS on the
- Since the default BIOS setting for a floppy drive is 3.5 inch, 1.44 MB, this implies the BIOS is not detecting drives.
- Set the diskette drive a: setting to 3.5 inch, 1.44 MB, and then restart. If the setting is once again set to Not Installed, the BIOS battery is dying and needs replacement.
- A dying BIOS battery will cause the computer to not communicate with the drive, and thus the drive will appear inoperable.