I used to say “I don’t care if my floppy disks work or not.” I’ve since discovered that faulty floppy disks REALLY bother me.
Recently, I started backing up my 3.5″ disks as floppy disk images (.ima) using WinImage.
I have a few things working against me with this process.
- The disks are getting old, and they’re starting to fail.
- My 3.5″ disk drive is a cheap USB drive that isn’t super reliable.
- My motherboard doesn’t have a floppy controller, so I can’t install a good dual drive.
Disks often stall out while WinImage is reading them. In most scenarios, you can punch “retry” over and over, and sometimes you’ll get a read off them. I really suffered through a recent backup of Spear of Destiny, which misread on me at just about every percent. I finally got the data off those disks after hours of dedicated clicking.
Why in the hell am I doing this? I can’t publish them anywhere because that would technically be piracy. If the original media dies, it’s unlikely I can use them to repair the disks (backup disks aren’t going to cut it for me). So, what good are they? The answer is that the process is somewhat therapeutic. In a way, the trials and tribulations of dealing with old computer software make me feel like I’m part of their timeline. The unfolding drama as I click “retry” is unreal. “96%. 98%. 99%. Come on!”
The images I create obviously have a use for me as personal backups. It would be great, however, if there was a place to publicly store these floppy disk images legally so others who need them could get them. That would make the work of creating them more fulfilling.
Buying old computer games is such a gamble, especially if you’re looking for them to function after you get them. Some of these disks are creeping up on being 40 years old, and the data was fairly fragile even when they were new. I really love the packages as artifacts of a by-gone era. These boxes represent what buying games was like for me years ago. Even faulty disks are part of the experience, since I often had them malfunction on me back then.
This is what being a computer gamer is all about.
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