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An old program on floppy disks may be formatted to expect only floppy disks, or even to expect a certain number of disks. But there are a few things you can try.

Hi, Leo. I don't see this in the search but I have an old four-floppy disk program from Translator Pro. My new computer doesn't have a floppy drive so is it possible to transfer the four disk program to perhaps a single CD? Maybe it isn't possible as it is making a copy of a copyrighted program. I will never purchase a new version based on the cost/usage factor.

In this excerpt from Answercast #44 I look at the problems involved in trying to run an old program that was packaged in a multi-set of floppy disks.

Cost/usage factor

By that I assume that you mean it's just not worth the cost to actually buy a current version of the program; and I totally understand that.

Multi-disk programs

The short answer to your question is "Maybe." Unfortunately, it really depends on:

  • Exactly how the program's own setup program (if it has one) is set up;

  • Or how the program, itself, is setup.

The problem is that the program may be hard coded to expect a floppy drive - and only a floppy drive.

It may be hard coded to expect four different medias - so you might be able to copy to four CDs, (which is kind of a waste of media) but potentially it could work.

Now, what I have seen (and I've actually seen this quite often), is that there are two scenarios that are definitely worth exploring.

Use folders

One is to create four folders on a CD:

  • A folder for disk one, a folder for disk two and a folder for disk three and disk four.

  • Copy the contents of each disk into those folders;

  • And then burn the CD with these four folders.

You may be able to run the program (or its setup) from the "disk one" folder. When it looks for the next floppy you may be able to direct it to the "disk two" folder.

Use the full CD

Now, that's one approach.

The other approach, that sometimes works, is to:

  • Copy all of those files, from all four floppies, into a single folder;

  • Or, in fact, into the root of what you will eventually burn as your CD.

Sometimes that works. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that one specific way is going to work or not. That's why I have to kind-of waffle... and I have to kind-of say these are the things you want to try.

Finding a floppy drive

Now, the one thing you haven't stated (that is kind of a pre-requisite for all of this) is that you have at least one machine, somewhere, that has a floppy drive that can read these four floppies - so you can actually do this.

I'm assuming you do because there's gotta be a way to get it to this other machine. But on the machine that has the floppy drive, these are the kinds of things you want to try:

  • Copy the contents into a single folder; burn that folder as a CD;

  • Copy the contents of each floppy into its own folder and then burn that set of four folders into a single CD

  • And otherwise you might be out of luck.

I'm not really sure that I've not encountered any other approaches to solving this particular problem other than the two that I've just listed.

Article C5698 - August 15, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Douglas Brace
August 15, 2012 6:29 PM

You could always just buy a USB floppy drive.

August 15, 2012 6:59 PM

Why not purchase an inexpensive floppy disk drive? Here's one for $12...

August 17, 2012 9:08 AM

I've used the one folder for each disk in the distance past with mixed success. One tip is to name the folder the same name/volume label as the diskette you're copying - the case (upper and lower) may make a difference.

August 17, 2012 9:15 AM

Don't forget to add that you need to produce the first cd as "bootable" in your burn program.
Otherwise, all you have is a data disk of files.
Go to a friend who has a working floppy drive, including USB. Using Nero Burning Rom, put floppy #1 in, scroll down to CDROM "Boot" & fire it up. Click radio button "Bootable Logical Drive Must Be A:"
Click New, then click the Burn icon on the tool bar. Check: Write & Finalize - burn.
This will temporarily cause the DVD drive to act as a floppy drive. The next three floppies you can burn as separate data discs using Nero Express.

August 17, 2012 9:26 AM

As an addendum to the gentleman who has the four floppy diskette program; the media on those would be suspect as viable at this point in time.
You NEED to transfer to cd asap and hope that it works. Good luck!

Scott Currier
August 17, 2012 9:40 AM

I've been doing a lot of retro computing lately. Fortunately a lot of the old programs will install from the hard drive if you copy all of the files into a single folder.

For those that won't. My plan is to pick up a pack of CD-RW's and use them as floppies. If the program requires drive letter A I'll try the subst command or find another way to change the drive letter of the CD drive to A.

If it was only one program, I'd just use regular CD's. But, I expect to have to do it with several programs so it will be worth getting a pack of RW's.

I installed QEMM 8.0 and Desqview 2.8 from folders on the hard drive. Same with Windows 3.11WG and Windows 95. It's been fun using software from the late 80's and early 90's.

One of these days I will try Windows 386 V 2.0. Yeah Windows 2. I remember it vaguely from the mid 80's. Never used it much.

Steve Mann
August 17, 2012 9:49 AM

"The problem is that the program may be hard coded to expect a floppy drive - and only a floppy drive."

That's what the SUBST command is for.

subst A: F:\ makes drive F: look like drive A: to the PC, so a program hard coded to look for drive A: will find it.

Joseph Damien
August 17, 2012 10:08 AM

My problem and question relates to this subject. I have many old floppies I would like to copy to either my hard drive or to CD's. I do have a floppy drive, Samsung SFD-321U/EP and I have the CD that came with it. It worked fine on my old XP system computer. I bought a new desktop with Win7 Home Premium and hooked up this floppy but it would not work with Win 7. I tried to use the CD but that did not work either. I did try to find any new drivers that might work with Win 7 but no luck. If there any way I can get this floppy drive to work with my Win 7 desktop? I do still have my old XP computer and have thought of hooking it up along with my new desktop using one monitor and a KVM switch.

Reverend Jim
August 17, 2012 10:33 AM

If the first floppy doesn't have to be bootable, and copying to a single, or multiple folders doesn't work then you can try creating an iso disk image of each floppy and using a program like virtualcd (slysoft) to mount each floppy image as required.

Bruce H. Johnson
August 17, 2012 1:34 PM

I've had excellent luck in copying floppies to either hard disk or CD.

My successful action is to make as many folders in the root as there are floppies. Name them "disk 1", "disk 2", etc.

Fire up the setup program in the disk one folder. In 95% of the cases I've done this way, the installation just moves from folder to folder without even asking.

August 17, 2012 4:32 PM

You can purchase a USB floppy drive fairly cheap. You plug it in and away you go, hopefully. You might have to scrounge around on the 'net for a driver.

Ken Robson
August 18, 2012 5:56 AM

I have made this work a few times, but rather than naming the folders 'disk 1' etc., I always name each folder exactly the same name/title as each floppy disk. Then if disk 1 asks to load, for example 'prog_disk2' it should find and load it without trouble.

August 18, 2012 11:22 AM

Re: Floppy drive not working with Windows 7

I'd be inclined to bet this is actually a hardware problem. However, a very good line of attack is to burn and boot from a Live OS CD/DVD. I'd recommend Puppy Linux as it's small (quick to download) but intended to offer good support for older hardware. (N.B. you'll download a file named something.iso and must use a program that will transfer this *image* onto a blank CD/DVD - can be RW. If, after burning, a directory listing of the disc shows "something.iso", you have created a data disc, instead of burning the image; start again! Windows 7 has built-in support for ISO burning: Stating the obvious: once the live OS is running, it will, with luck, enable you to copy your floppies onto the internal hard drive or a USB key or external HD.

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