My PC XT clone went up in smoke (literally) the other day. I salvaged the half height 5.25" double density floppy drive though and dropped it into an old 1.8 ghz AMD tower I had laying around. Plan is to migrate whatever I can forward onto more modern media.

I'm able to boot off the drive (setup as A) and run DOS 3.2 successfully (as well as some self-booting old games). Since I also have a 3.5" drive B, I can move data to a slightly more common format, so basically a success.

What's odd though, is if I boot the machine off the hard drive into Windows XP I have problems with the 5.25" drive. It knows it's there. Drive B works perfectly normal. Drive A though fails with General I/O error on access around 90% of the time. On the rare occasion it works the first time after boot, it will stay working. However, most times it won't work after booting. Definitely Windows XP specific behaviour as DOS works perfect every time.

Any known issues with 360k drives with Windows XP? If not, anyone know a registry key for adding extra delay for drives that are slow to start (my only working theory currently is that this drive may be a little slower to respond than expected).

  • 6
    I used to have a Windows 95 PC that only properly accepted my B: floppy drive when I unchecked that drive's detection in the BIOS
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:38
  • 1
    What happens when you boot into DOS, "talk" to the drive, then start Windows? (I assume you haven't got the NT version.)
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:53
  • 2
    It probably confused about what type the drive is, thinking its either a 1.2 MB 5.25" drive or a 3.5" drive. Make sure the BIOS has both A: and B: drives configured correctly. Also check that the icons for the A: and B: drives in My Computer have little 5.25" and 3.5" floppies respectively.
    – user722
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 21:52
  • 6
    Windows XP requires that floppies be formatted with a correct media descriptor byte, so it might just be a problem with how your floppies are formatted.
    – user722
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 23:21
  • 3
    @tofro: I wouldn't recommend that, as I remember W9x corrupting either the FAT or the root directory (can't remember which) after swapping floppies when the floppy drive was disabled in the BIOS.
    – ninjalj
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


Sounds like a software-related issue. Firstly, I'd check if it works with any newer DOS release - try DOS6.22 or even DOS7 from China DOS Union. If that works, then I'd setup a Windows 98 SE on another partition/HDD and copy files using this OS; If you really need to do it on XP, then I would recommend removing the 3,5" drive and using its place on the FDD cable as the place for the 5,25" one. Windows XP can be quite picky on working with 5,25" drives, mostly because when it arrived in 2001 they already were an oddity - M$ included the support for them, but they probably didn't care enough to betatest it properly, and some bugs may occur.

  • 1
    Turns out that Windows XP just times out too fast on this drive. Non-Windows OS handle it fine. Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 13:03
  • And, despite being an oddity even when XP was released, Microsoft retained native 5.25"-floppy support through at least Windows 7.
    – Vikki
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 17:23

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