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I have a bunch of old Mac floppies, from whatever System was common in 1995. I've been wanting to get this data off of these floppies for some time but feet dragging has led to the current state where powering up my two ancient Mac monitors resulted in distinctive frying electronics sounds and the old laptop I have won't start.

So I have the floppies. :) A hundred or so of them, in fact.

I do not currently have a computer with a floppy drive. I could buy something, then figure out how to get all of the data off, then go through the old files and try to extract the text, but it seems like there's probably a company out there that can do this for me. Does anyone have any data retrieval experience, can you point me to a company who can get this data off of these floppies and even better convert the MacWrite and WordPerfect files to, well, anything modern?

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You're probably SOL. Floppies weren't designed to be archival media lasting a decade and a half. The magnetic material has probably degraded so much that you'll have a hell of a time getting the data off intact. –  Spiff Aug 3 '11 at 7:51

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

It isn't that hard to do yourself.

Assuming these are physically standard 3.5" floppies, you can buy any USB floppy drive. The floppies are presumably formatted as HFS (the old Macintosh file system), which can be read under Linux.

Procedure

  • Boot into Linux (if you don't have it installed, any live CD, e.g. Ubuntu, will work), and connect the floppy drive (and a hard drive to save the files to.)
  • You might need to install the hfsutils package (run sudo aptitude install hfsutils).
  • You should be able to mount the floppies and copy the files onto your hard disk.

LibreOffice should be able to open WordPerfect files directly. I'm not sure about MacWrite.

If you want to archive the entire contents of the floppies, you can make an image of each floppy using dd.

Edit: Spiff has a good point, that old floppies physically degrade. If you can only read them intermittently, try using dd_rescue/ddrescue to get the data off the disks, and mount the images once safely on your hard drive.

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Ok thanks, that may be the way to go... I understand that the floppies degrade over time, and I'll get what I get. Never knew about ddrescue so that's a great tip too. –  dash-tom-bang Aug 4 '11 at 6:20

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