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I went through this problem a couple of years back, and it's only gotten worse since then of course.
I'll give you the tl;dr blurb first... you ARE going to end up here: KryoFlux Products & Services Ltd.[^] Save yourself a LOT of trouble and start with these guys, the documention alone is both necessary and sufficient, but you might as well just bite the bullet and buy their dedicated hardware because the other bad news is that a lot of your media is going to be bad. Their USB generic flux-sensing floppy controller is very powerful and surprisingly inexpensive and the software is free for non-commercial use (and ridiculously expensive for commercial use.)
Along the way I discovered that if you don't go the Kryoflux route you will also need an older motherboard with a BIOS that supports 5.25" drives if you will be trying to read them. The only way to tell if this is the case is to power it up and look in the settings. I had a mountain of used MB's laying around and I had to dig down a couple of feet to find one. (8-10 years old at least? How long ago did Gateway croak?)
It turned out that almost all of my media was useless, although I haven't made it through all of them. (1000 or so mixed 3.5, 5.25, 180K to 1.2M.) Totally my fault, the A/C went out in my storage shed and it didn't occur to me until it was far too late than this was ruining my floppies, including distribution media from practically every major PC software package and OS from 1982 until CD's took over. I'm crying a little now.)
My next project, and it's a failure so far, is recovering data from a dozen or so MFM hard drives. Data for that is even more scarce, and so far no samaritan with a hardware solution which is probably what it's going to take.)
I'm always surprised by people who claim "tl;dr" but have a lots of reactions without reading the text (Also, I am quite worried by how short entries that can cause a "tl;dr" - it seems as if even acadmics have a maximum attention span of three or four sentences. But that's another discussion.)
I don't have to search for a PC which can read 5.25" floppies (and has a 3.5 floppy as well); it is sitting in my basement. It doesn't have a network connection. It does have a USB interface card plugged into the bus - I believe it is USB 1.x only, not USB 2.x. I have to dig out an old VGA screen, and a keyboard with the "large", round (DIN style) connectors...
A few years ago, I did sort my floppies into "important" ones that I did transfer to harddisk, and those who are not that important, those that can wait. I think that the threshold is a little high for setting up that really old stuff, just for seeing if there is some "nice to have" on the low priority floppies. If I could just install an alternate floppy driver an plug in the USB reader, the initial effort would be a small fraction, and working speed would be higher because I wouldn't have to move it on by USB. And I could do it directly from my recliner where my current PC is located.
So this isn't a critical emergency, more like digging into some old letters: If it can be preserved, fine. If not, no big catastrophy. When I did the previous round of saving, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, I was surprised by how little problems media detoriation caused. Practially all the floppies were still readable.
And if this was a life critical emergency case, I would go to experts in this country. They are top rate, too - I think they have most of their income from criminal investigations by the police.
I went to the web pages of htis KryoFlux and was surprised: Usually, when someone are only aware of the offerings in their own country, they are from the US. So I expected to find an American country. Here in Europe, most people are aware of other countries than their own, and are not shocked to learn that there are services at the same professional level outside their homeland.
My first thought is replace the windows floppy driver with another one, maybe an open source one exists that will do what you need. Or maybe you can get away with booting into linux off a cd/usb and then copy the files from there.
Yes, another floppy driver was what I was hoping for.
Years ago, I saved a lot of files on floppies coming from another OS, one that used 2048 byte sectors, and therefore managed to pack more than 20% more data per floppy than the IBM format. We did that by installing an alternate floppy driver in Windows - I don't remember if it was 3.11 or 95, but it sure was the 16-bit flavor. The file system was quite different, but very familiar to us, so once we got hold of the sectors, picking out the files was easy.
I was hoping that someone had written a similar driver for Win7 or Win10, handling floppies without a format code.
I might look around for some *nix software that handles it, but I guess it has to do it the way old DOS did: Try one format after the other until a read succeeds. That really is sort of a crazy approach; I wouldn't expect Linux to have copied it! But you never know...
Our cockroaches, however, can't find any winter jackets in their size and our package warmers don't work below freezing, consequently; we are unable to safely ship cockroaches when the forecast is below 40 for 2 or more consecutive days.
Backyard Brains wrote:
Cockroaches are the happiest when they aren't in a shipping box for a long period of time. Therefore, we ship cockroaches out on Monday or Tuesday via 2-3 day USPS priority mail from Michigan. This way they won't sit in the Post Office over the weekend.
Pet ownership is a responsibility that builds character and confidence - and what better pet to own then your very own cockroach! If you've decided to take the plunge and dive into the world of cockroach husbandry, you might need some help supplying your colony and keeping your cockroaches alive and kicking.