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“Disk is not formatted” error when accessing floppies in Windows

Monday, April 16th, 2007 01:10:00 by Håvar Henriksen

Disk is not formatted error message
If you are still using floppy disks and Windows, you might have gotten the “Disk is not formatted” error when trying to access a floppy disk inside Windows XP, especially old floppies.
You might then think that all the data is lost, but this might not be the case. I’ve seen this problem at least three times, the last couple of months. This happened to some non-working floppies, that some friends of me asked if I could check.
I found out that if I tried to mount (access) the floppy under Linux, it worked like a charm.
On another floppy that Windows insisted was not formatted, I tried to mount it under Linux and got some error messages (read errors), but the floppy got mounted and I was able to copy all but one of the files off of the floppy.
So this simple method might also work on floppies that are slightly damaged. If the file system on the floppy is damaged, and you get this error message when trying to mount it under Linux:
“mount: you must specify the file system type”,
it might mean that the floppy is completely damaged. But you could then try to dd the floppy to a image on the hard drive, or you could try a recovery program like PhotoRec which could recover several different file types (not just photos) off of a damaged media or a media where the filesystem is damaged.
You might also get this error in Windows on other medias (like USB flash drives, etc) which might not be as damaged as Windows insists, so try mounting it in Linux (or use the recovery option above) before giving it up or formating it.