Sunday, January 08, 2006

Have you got a floppy?

I can't remember the last computer that I had that still had a 1.44Mb floppy drive built in. A few years ago IBM Thinkpads would come with an optional floppy drive that would connect through the serial port but even this has stopped now since floppies are now pretty much redundant. When you can get a multi gigabyte USB key for just a few quid there is no need for the old fella any more. Or so I thought!

My pretty but problematic home PC suffered a serious hard disk failure a couple of days ago. It caused the PC to refuse to boot. Of course I have a recovery CD that came with my machine so in it goes and it brings up the Windows XP Professional installation utility. There is one minor complication though. Despite having been out for a few of years, Windows XP SP2 doesn't have built in drivers for SATA disks. This shouldn't be a problem because the installation routine allows you to add new drivers by pressing F6. The problem is that it will only allow the drivers to be loaded from a floppy disc. But my machine doesn't have a floppy disk drive and the drivers are on my motherboard CD! Snookered. It is unbelievable that the very latest version of Windows is still restricted to this archaic technology. A quick search of forums on the Interweb shows countless poor souls who are stuck because of this.

Fortunately I also have my work Thinkpad which has a built in CD Writer so I was able to create a new XP install CD with the drivers Slipstreamed so they would be automatically installed. I can't imagine many home users would know how to do this though, I certainly didn't know 2 days ago and I'm an IT professional.

1 comment:

Ian said...

We have 1 tower with Windows XP Pro, 1 tower using a Linux variant, and three laptops... but only the Linux box has a floppy drive. Go figure.

Actually, I just got this Dell E510 specifically for music applications and a floppy drive would be almost useless so I didn't spring for the $10 for one... maybe I made a mistake?!

I'm actually wondering if I can get an external USB device that I can move around?

[Today's verification 'word' is "sqrtm", which I would define as something we do in summer at our friend's pool, usually with a SuperSoaker or similar.]