How come I get an unknown format error when trying to access a floppy disk in DOS format?

by on August 11, 2011

Q: I’m trying to recover some files stored in HD 3″1/2 floppies with a USB floppy disk drive, and I get an “unknown format” error message when I try to read/copy them.
The floppies were written using DOS (I don’t know which version) in a 386 computer and I’m trying to read them in a laptop with Windows XP SP3.
Is there any way I can do this? I’m sure the files and the floppies are not corrupted because they’re new (the 386 dinosaur is still alive and controling a piece of equipment at my workplace).


One Response to “How come I get an unknown format error when trying to access a floppy disk in DOS format?”
  1.  
    Picked as best answer

    I’m guessing that the floppy drive in that 386 is a good 20-25 years old. Odds are the heads are out of alignment on the drive so data isn’t getting written correctly to the disk. Unless your new usb floppy disk drive was out of alignment the exact same way it won’t be able to read the disks.

    Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way to fix the drive, so your best option would be to purchase a replacement floppy drive for the old 386.