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I am using Windows XP with an old accounting app, that will only back up to a ‘3.5 inch’ floppy disk. The backup requires a second disk to complete the job – a pain. Would an Extended Density 2880 KiB floppy (if I can find it) work in that drive?

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The 2.88MB "extended density" disks have a different type of coating on them, which normal "high density" drives are not optimised to read or write. So you might not reliably be able to format it even for 1.44MB. I believe these disks were never common and are now decidedly rare, as are the drives to work with them.

A 1.44MB drive is also not designed to operate at the higher data speeds of a 2.88MB format, and a standard disk controller cannot work with the 2.88MB format either.

I'm not certain, but your accounting software might accept an LS-120 drive as a backup medium; it is also capable of handling normal floppy disks at their normal capacity. I think LS-120 might also be easier to find than 2.88MB disks and drives, as well as being vastly more capable.

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    A normal 1.44MB drive won't work with 2.88MB disks simply for the fact that 2.88MB disks use perpendicular recording whereas 1.44MB disks use longitudinal recording. The head must be different to support the ED format.
    – fuz
    May 5 '20 at 13:24
  • @fuz Yes, that's basically what I was driving at. But it's moot since these things are unobtanium anyway.
    – Chromatix
    May 5 '20 at 13:55
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    2.88M support in floppy controllers was actually pretty common. I've got a number of motherboards that let me select that as an option. On the other hand, I've never even seen a 2.88M drive or floppy.
    – user722
    May 5 '20 at 22:45
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I can think of several solutions

  • Run the software in a virtual machine with a virtual floppy disk image attached to it
  • Just change the drive letter of some partition to A: or B: since I doubt that the software actually checks the drive type and just assumes that the first 2 letters are for floppy drives

But I think migrating to some newer software is the best solution. You should migrate as soon as possible, otherwise the migration cost would be much bigger in the future, especially with some ancient software that's vulnerable to attacks like Windows XP you may have to pay some other much more painful cost

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If the drive is described as a 1.44MB drive, it's not going to be able to write a 2.88MB disk at 2.88MB.

I think you can reformat a 2.88MB disk down to 1.44MB, but I think that's not what you're asking.

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    Downformatting 2.88MB disks to 1.44MB is likely to be very unreliable, because 1.44MB disks use longitudinal recording, whereas 2.88MB disks use perpendicular recording. Because of the different recording type, you need different magnetic properties of the medium. May 3 '20 at 11:26
  • Probably you're right - it's been, what, 3 decades since I saw a 2.88MB disk drive! May 3 '20 at 14:25

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