720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

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boratintheuk
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720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby boratintheuk » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:13 am

Hi everyone, I'm new to the ST scene. I'm aware this topic has probably been discussed in myriads, so I'm sorry about that, it's just that some of these guides were 10 years old or the newer ones had conflicting information.

I come from the Amiga scene where floppy disks had no proper way of exchanging data with modern PCs. However I found out that the ST is capable of doing such a feat.

I've been reading that USB floppy drives can't read or format 720k disks... But I also read that sometimes they can?
And I've also been reading that windows 10 also can't read or format 720k disks... But some people say that it can?!
I've also read that certain floppy formatting/writing software can't use USB floppies drives... But I've also seen some guides saying they can?!?!

It pretty much needs to be a USB floppy drive because I no longer own a motherboard with a floppy connector in it.

This conflicting information is confusing me. I'll be receiving my very first Atari STE soon and I'm excited to play with it. I already own a Gotek drive but since the ST can read DOS based floppies I was more interested in using the classic disk format.

I was wondering if I could get some help on all this! I'm considering buying this cheap USB drive: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RXEWOAA/?t ... rflow17-20 The description claims it supports 720k disks.

I read in another thread that you shouldn't use these cheap Chinese floppy drives but, someone in that same thread said they were able to make this very same model work! (something about covering holes on the disk?)

Sorry if any of these questions have been asked before (I'm sure they have LOL) I just couldn't find the right information and I want to make sure I buy the right tool for the job. Also any information on the floppy software would be great too, because I'm completely ignorant in that regard.

Thanks. :cheers:

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Re: 720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby spiny » Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:55 am

I use a USB floppy on Win10 to copy FILES to 720k disks, and it works fine.
Format the disk on the Atari, put it in the USB drive on your PC, copy files using Windows Explorer. Put the disk back in the ST. It works.

HOWEVER

you can't use it to write ST disk images, as 99% of ST disk images are unusual formats, which USB drives can't cope with.

My drive is a TEAC unit, got it from ebay.

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Re: 720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby Atarieterno » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:27 am

Windoze does format and read 720 Kby with USB floppies, the problem is for extended formats (for example 800 Kby) that need an internal floppy disk drive to use them.
Type CMD in the Windows start box and then type the command FORMAT A: /T:80 /N:9 /u
So you will perfectly format at 720 Kby, but do not forget to cover with a piece of adhesive tape the right hole of the diskette (if it is 1.4 Mby).
To convert floppy images into files for real floppy disks, use this excellent program by Peter Putnik:
http://atari.8bitchip.info/floimgd.php

But remember the limitation: in USB disk drive maximum 720 Kby, with internal floppy drive support extended formats.

P.S. I'm glad you're moving away from the dark side of force. :lol:
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Re: 720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby BlankVector » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:53 am

boratintheuk wrote:I've been reading that USB floppy drives can't read or format 720k disks... But I also read that sometimes they can?

They can. At least, mine can.
- Writing 720 KB floppies is always possible
- Reading Atari ST 720 KB floppies works sometimes, but fails if the floppy has been low-level formatted with some format tools. This is because PC floppy disk controllers are less permissive than Atari ones. But floppies formatted with the Atari desktop should always work fine on PC.

I have made a few videos on that topic : Atari 720 KB floppies in PC USB drives.

- To write a few files or programs from PC (*not* full disk images) :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReCdd1gZxSM

- Read / Write 720 KB full disk images (ST / MSA) with USB floppy drive :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCszyYCAEgE

That's French speak, but English subtitles are available.
You might also be interested in some of my other videos.
Subscribe to my new channel Vretrocomputing on YouTube and Facebook.

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Re: 720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby joska » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:28 pm

BlankVector wrote:But floppies formatted with the Atari desktop should always work fine on PC.


Only with TOS 1.04/1.06 or later. Windows does not like floppies formatted by earlier versions of TOS.
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Re: 720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby 1st1 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:14 pm

Windows 10 has no limits with floppy drive formats, it can read/write 3,5 ich, 5,25 ich, 320 kb, 640 kb, 720 kb, 1,2 MB, 1,44 MB, 2,88 MB. Most of them I could already test on a PC with a 3,5+5,25 compo drive (except of the last one as I have no drive/controller for that).

The limit is the USB drive. They work totally different from drives connected to the floppy controller of a PC mainboard.

(old fashioned) Floppy drives controlled by AT style floppy controller (onboard or addon card) in PC are quite flexible, allmost as flexible as WD1772/Ajax in Atari (and much less flexible than in Amiga), their limit is usually at 10 sectors per track (DD), or 20 sectors with HD drives. ATari can handle 11/22 sectors per track, as WD1772 is more flexibe in reducing sector headers, sector gaps, etc (See Scheibenkleister book). Mostly besides MFM they also can support old style FM format and so on, quite interesting to play with, for data exchange with older systens like even CP/M disk formats. This is because the floppy drive is raw controlled, the BIOS / Operating system itself handles with the floppy controller, handles the control signals (like step in/out, side select, etc.) by itself.

USB floppy drive is different. The PC BIOS / Operating system has no direct control of the floppy controller in such an USB drive, it can not control directly the RW-head. Instead, the USB floppy drive has it's own intelligence (like Atari 1050, commodore VC 1541 floppy drives - but less than these!) and only announces sectors (blocks) over USB to the host computer. The computer does not see tracks, sides and raw sectors. It sees what the drive intelligence announces to the computer. It works more or less the same way as an USB stick, just a number of sectors/blocks, that's all. And this intelligence is very limited, it only can read/write floppys of the standard formats, 1,44 MB, some older drives also 720k. But not more than 80 tracks and not 10(DD)/20(HD) sectors hyperformats.

To have luck with 720 kb support of USB drive, you need to test by yourself the drive you have. You should be on the save side by taking an older IBM/Lenovo USB drive (made by Ye-Data) or similar. I used to have a drive by DeLock, this did not support 720kB.

One thing is important. Windows 7-10 format floppy function in Explorer is quite limited, you can't select the density, for 5,25 inch default is 1,2 MB, for 3,5 it is 1.44, not changeable. You need to open the DOS command prompt (cmd.exe) and make it manually, like "format a: /t:80 /n:9" for 720 kB (the /f parameter doesn't work anymore since Win XP).
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Re: 720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby 1024MAK » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:23 am

Just to be clear, some (including some new-ish) USB drives support 720k but not all of them.
All of them support 1.4M.

Also, the motors in them will not always turn slightly stiff disks fast enough for it to access data on the disk.

Mark
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Re: 720k Floppies with Windows 10 and a USB Floppy drive.

Postby Gaiyan » Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:25 am

I have an Iomega USB floppy drive that works flawlessly in Win10 and Mac OS and writes 720K as well. https://www.cnet.com/products/iomega-fl ... drive-usb/
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