[University of Arkansas][Computing Services]

Disaster Recovery Plan
Recovery of Floppy Disk Media

Last update: Tuesday, 21-Mar-2000 10:30:07 CST

3.5-inch floppy disks have been recovered using the following procedure:

The plastic diskette housing is opened up by breaking the plastic welds at the back edge of the diskette (edge opposite the edge with the aluminum shutter). The plastic welds can be popped open by carefully prying open the corners of the back edge of the diskette using a fingernail, knife, or screwdriver. If a sharp object is used to pry open the cassette, care should be taken not to insert the object too far into the diskette as it can scratch or damage the media disk.

The diskette housing is expanded and the disk medium is removed using a gloved hand. Either nylon or cotton gloves are acceptable for this purpose. Rubber gloves can be used if a cloth glove is not available, but it is not as good as oils or greases on the glove can be transferred to the disk (this is less of a problem with the cloth gloves as they are absorbent). DO NOT use bare hands for this task as you will leave fingerprint oils on the disk. Always make sure that you handle the disk medium with a gloved hand.

If the disk is dusty, it can be carefully blown clean using a compressed air canister. If there are salt, mineral, or grease deposits on the disk, the disk can be carefully wiped clean. Place a clean cotton cloth (A TexWipe¨ is good for this task) on a flat, firm surface. Next, support the disk medium on this surface while carefully wiping the debris from the disk with a cotton cloth dampened with water. Very mild soapy water can be used if the debris does not remove with tap or bottled water. Use extreme caution when wiping the disk medium-take care not to wrinkle or crease the medium. If disk debris is minor, it may be better to forego a cleaning and see if the disk can be read rather that risk wrinkling the medium during a cleaning.

Once the disk medium is clean, it can be placed in a new diskette housing. Make certain that the disk medium is inserted into the new diskette housing with the proper orientation. A new diskette housing is made from a new diskette where the plastic welds have been broken at the back edge and the disk medium is removed and discarded. When expanding the disk housing to allow the media to be inserted, be careful not to expand the housing too far as this will permanently deform the aluminum shutter causing the diskette to catch in the floppy disk drive.

It is recommended that the contents of the recovered diskette be copied immediately to a brand new diskette or onto a working hard drive. Not only does this verify that the disk is readable, but it provides a new copy of the information on reliable media. If the disk cannot be read, software is available, such as Norton Utilities¨ and SpinRite¨, which can assist in the recovery of the information on the diskette.

The old, recovered disk medium can be kept in the new diskette housing (the back edge of the diskette shell can be taped closed), stored in a plastic 100 mm Petrie dish (the steel hub can be labeled for identification purposes-DO NOT write directly on the surface of the magnetic medium), or discarded. The same "new" housing can be used to allow several damaged diskettes to be recovered. As long as the diskette shell remains clean, it is acceptable to use (look at the diskette shell lining for signs of dirt, debris, or discoloration).

If the recovered diskettes being recopied are not completely clean, it is a good idea to use a diskette cleaning kit at regular intervals to ensure that the read/write head is clean and to reduce the transfer of debris and contaminants to the new diskettes.

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