Friday, November 23, 2007

Floppy Disks and Data Recovery

Before looking into the recovery of data from them, let us first have a look at how the floppy drives function and what they are used for.
What are Floppy Disks?
The floppy disks consist of a thin disk that is made up of magnetic material and is enclosed in a plastic cover. The disks have a hole in the centre. In the hole, a metal apparatus is fixed. The spindle that is present in the floppy disk drive can fit into this apparatus and thus make the disk rotate.
A slot is present in the cover of the floppy disk from where contact can be established in between the read/ write head and the disk itself. Thus, data can be written onto the disk or can be read from it.
The method in which data is stored on the floppy disks is similar to the storage method used in case of hard drive i.e. the disk is divided into a number of sectors that are present in the form of circles on either of the disk’s surfaces. Each of these sectors has a specific address and can store 512 bytes of data. The above configurations may vary depending upon the type of floppy disk.
In the 3 and a half inch versions of floppy disks (the ones that are commonly used these days), a fabric is present within the cover in order to remove any dust that is present on the disk surface.
As far as the floppy disk drives are concerned, they are available in some of the desktop computers. On others, they have to be installed or external drives have to be used.
Use of Floppy Disks
These days, most of the software or applications that are used have sizes greater than the space available in a floppy disk. Thus, they cannot be stored in it. This is one of the reasons for floppy disks becoming obsolete.
However, they are still used in some of the older computers. Such computers usually lack an optical disk drive (one that can read data from CDs or from both CDs and DVDs). Hence, in case of a system crash, floppy drives come in handy where CDs cannot be used to boot the computer.
They can also be used for the transfer of data from such systems. In some rare cases, floppy disks are used for backing up of data. This data may include documents, software that is small in size, photographs etc.
How Data can be Lost from Floppy Disks?
The floppy disks are data storage media that are highly vulnerable to damage. The data present in them can be lost easily. Data loss can occur in the following ways:
The floppy disks are highly sensitive to dust. The plastic cover that is present on the floppy disks is usually insufficient to provide adequate protection over a long period of time.
The data present on the disks can be lost due to an effect of external magnetic field.
The data present on floppy disks can also be lost if they are mishandled. For example, scratches can form on the disk surface, the cover of the disk may open up etc.
The disks are also susceptible to logical errors. Such errors can take place when a file gets written incompletely on the disk due to power surges, power cuts etc.
Finally, the data retention capacity of the floppy disks goes on reducing with use. Some of the bad quality floppy disks may even stop functioning within a couple of weeks.
Recovering Data from Floppy Disks
In case the cause of inaccessibility of data from the disk is lack of proper lubrication, then the data can be recovered by making use of a proper lubricant.
To repair the logical errors that may be present in the data stored on a floppy disk, many data recovery software are available on the internet. Good quality software can be chosen from the same in order to recover the data.
In some cases, you can access the data present on the floppy disk by making use of a different floppy disk drive. Thus, one can try inserting the floppy disk into different computers in an attempt to access the data present on it.
Remember that floppy disks show the largest amount of failures. Hence, preferably they should not be used. In case the use of floppy disks is unavoidable, the data present on them should be backed up onto the computer hard drive before use.
Source: Free Articles

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