This External Floppy Drive connects to the USB port
Photo courtesy Gearxs.com
Genealogists sometimes share data by floppy. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do so regularly and often have problems with TempleReady at Family History Centers (FHCs) or at the Church's temples.
Why is it that floppies written by one computer are not always readable by another?
There are two different problems that can cause this and they can appear to be very similar.
1. FLOPPY FORMAT PROBLEM
CAUSE: Floppy disk format not recognized by Windows 98, XP, 2000, NT, and ME because it is a preformatted floppy missing one byte of information required by these operating systems.
TO AVOID THE PROBLEM: If you have a choice, use TempleReady on a computer with Windows 98, XP, 2000, NT, or ME. If you must run on Windows 95 or MS-DOS, always format the floppy again before using it for sharing.
TO FIX THE PROBLEM: Copy all the files from the floppy to a temporary folder on the computer. Format the floppy again. Copy the files back to the floppy or reuse TempleReady.
2. COMPUTERS DO NOT SEE EYE TO EYE
CAUSE: Floppies work a little bit like old phonograph records. Instead of the needle in a groove used by a phonograph record, floppies use an electro-magnet and read or record circles of information. If two floppy drives disagree about the location and spacing of these circles, then one of the computers won't read floppies recorded by the other.
As a computer is used and gets old, its floppy drive can become so near or far sighted that it records floppies that can't be read by other floppy drives (although it can read its own floppies just fine). You know you have a problem if several computers can't read floppies written by your computer.
TO AVOID THE PROBLEM: If you're still using Windows 98 (or earlier, come on, you know you're out there), it's time to buy a new computer. Buy the cheapest name brand computer you can find. It should be less than $500 on sale. Don't buy one that requires a subscription to the Internet. Be brave. If you're retired, take the money out of your kid's inheritance. If you don't have the money, ask your kids for a Christmas present. (Just don't tell them you were going to disinherit them a moment before!)
I like to wait until Compaq computers are on sale for $400, but eMachines and Gateways are almost always available at that price (or cheaper). Make certain it comes with a 6 to 12 month warranty. Don't pay for an additional warranty unless the convenience is really worth it.
The new computer may not include a floppy drive, so find out how much it will cost to add one. Your best bet may be to buy an external floppy drive.
TO FIX THE PROBLEM: If you're using Windows XP or later, you'll have to decide between replacing the floppy drive or buying a new computer. The floppy drive itself is pretty cheap. If you or someone you know is willing to perform the exchange, go for it. Otherwise, call the computer stores in your area and ask what they would charge to replace your floppy drive. Compare that with the price of a new computer (see price range above). The older your computer, the more you should lean towards buying a new computer.
EXTERNAL FLOPPY DRIVE
Floppy drives are fast becoming dinosaurs. New computers often don't include one. If you don't need a new computer, investigate the option of buying an external floppy drive that plugs into a USB socket of your current computer. Prices range from $35 to $70.
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