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I picked up a Commodore 64 with about 1,500 floppy disks. Many of them are de-magnetised and there is currently only one disk I can run (been through about 100, I can see the files of 2 or 3 disks, but they don't load). I have ordered an old 5.25" drive for the PC and I also bought a C64 to PC transfer cable.

  • Can the information be recovered? If so, what is the best software?

  • Is there software to read all the accessible data, then rewrite the disk to recover it. Also, is there 1-click solution to save time?

  • Are the disks still usable if I format and put the .d64 games on the disks? I do know about covering the sides of the disk to make them read only.

  • Is there anything I should know when formatting?

This is my first time doing anything like this.

  • Welcome to the retrocomputing SE. Style-wise, you can try to be more concise and skip thanking people. That's what upvotes are for! – nabulator Mar 22 '18 at 3:57
  • One of the problems with Commodore floppies is that they have a variable number of sectors per track. As a result, unless you have full control over the reading mechanisms, it is not possible to read them on a normal floppy unit. There is a similar problem reading floppies from a Sirius1 – cup Mar 24 '18 at 10:12
  • Assuming your floppy drive is working properly, since you're not trying to recover any personal data, don't bother trying to recover them. I'd just find d64 files online and rewrite them. Copy protected disks may require g64 files or you can just use cracked versions. – Tim Locke Feb 2 at 13:46
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I highly recommend The Star Commander. It's a little tricky to get up and running but once you have the PC, cable, and 1541 all connected, you can transfer d64 images directly to floppy for use on your C64. If you're like me, half the fun is getting stuff to work... Anyway, you can check out the Star Commander web page here http://sta.c64.org/sc.html

Your disks may still be usable. I've been imaging my disks from high school (30 year old floppies) with great success, but as I understand it, the magnetic media will eventually degrade and become unusable. All you can do is try...

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Most likely it's not the disks that are bad but the drive. Try to get your hands on another 1541, 1570 or 1571 drive.

The old 5.25" drive for the PC won't help you anything, as the Commodore drives have a special format at the bit level (GCR at four speeds, depending on the track number) which can only be read by those Commodore drives. PC drives use the MFM format at a single speed.

You can connect a 1541, 1570 or 1571 drive to your PC through a wiring adapter plus a standard USB<->Parport adapter.

If you just wanted to "save" those old games, it's not worth the effort – there are enough websites which have those already in their archives.

  • Very good information from both of you, but I can't upvote because I don't have enough rep... so thank you. – Sin Mar 22 '18 at 6:40
  • I think the physical 360K mechanisms on the PC are identical to those of the Commodore, Apple, Atari, etc. and even the 1.2MB drive mechanisms could read (but not write) the other disks. There used to be a board called the Catweasel which would interface between the PC and an old drive, and let it read just about anything, but I don't think it's been maintained in years. – supercat Mar 22 '18 at 14:50
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    Yes, the drive assembly itself has a 1-bit interface and just amplifies the read/write data as present on these lines. But you still need the non-standard controller and that's where it gets easier to look for a Commodore drive and hook it up via IEC. – Janka Mar 22 '18 at 15:03
  • @Janka: Using a board that's designed to capture arbitrary streams of bits from disks could be faster than using a 1541, and may be better able to recover data from a marginal disk. Better still might be a board that could connect to the drive heads and capture an analog signal, but I'm not sure if those exist. – supercat Feb 2 at 21:03
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If you are serious about recovering the disk images, I'd try to get a Kryoflux or similar device. With that, you can image your floppy bit for bit, and try to correct any errors.

Of course that's a lot of work (no 1-click solution, on the contrary, at least of the floppy contents are damaged), and not cheap, so it may be easier to just download the floppy images from somewhere, and then either transfer them from the PC to the C64, or have the PC serve them with the cable you already ordered.

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