This question was originally posted on Gaming Stack Exchange.

I have a small collection of 5 1/4" floppy disks (early Sierra games) that I am trying to read. How can I connect a drive that accepts these disks to my PC.

  • I guess the reason that there are no formal, official, branded USB 5.25" floppy drives is because there is not enough demand to justify the manufacturing costs. Even official USB 3.5" drives will get phased out as demand peters off. Seems like a good time to get an electronics kit (breadboard, PSU, wires, etc.) and an Rπ/Arduino to “roll your own”. – Synetech Jul 6 '15 at 15:43
up vote 10 down vote accepted

A company called Device Side Data produces a device called the FC5025 which can adapt a 5 1/4" drive to a USB port. You will still need to power the drive so this approach will require either an external power source or a tower or desktop computer. There are also other limitations to this device, such as the inability to write to the disks or to read most forms of copy protection (back when these drives were common there was a technique to protect their contents from copying by writing intentionally bad data).

Using just original hardware the best approach would be to build or buy a computer that had a 5 1/4" inch drive and could connect to a network or had a 3 1/2" drive as well. 3 1/2" drives are still common enough to find as USB external drives, while networking a old PC would be complex.

  • 5
    Two other points to ponder: 1. Your floppies might have degaussed after sitting around for 30 years. Not a lot you can do about that. 2. The files you're trying to recover from these floppies might be available from abandonware web sites. Might be easier to download them than to recover the floppy files. Oh yeah, and all retro-game lovers need to know about ScrumVM and DOSBox. The sheer technical kewlness of these and other retro platform emulators boggles the mind. – Isaac Rabinovitch Dec 3 '12 at 3:23
  • 1
    I would use a make an ISO of your floppies so you can always have them – Keltari Apr 14 '14 at 18:54

There is a device available from the Software Preservation Society called a kryoflux which is a USB disk controller and can be used to create image files from many disk formats such as MS-DOS, Apple, Commodore, etc. Unlike the FC5025, the Kryoflux has write support.

It comes with a command-line program and a Java graphical front end for those who prefer to point and click. Linux, Mac, Windows and AmigaOS are supported.

I have used this device to create image (.img) files from old 5.25" MS-DOS disks on my up-to-date i7 computer. It is more involved than a native supported drives of bygone days but it does work. For example, imaging a 360K disk goes something like this:

$ dtc -ftest.img -d1 -k2 -v300 -i4 -e40

which you can then mount

$ sudo mount -o loop test.img /mnt
$ $ ls /mnt
4201.CPI    CHKDSK.COM    DISKCOPY.COM  FDISK.COM     JOIN.EXE   NLSFUNC.EXE  SYS.COM
5202.CPI    COMMAND.COM   DISPLAY.SYS   FIND.EXE      KEYB.COM   PRINT.COM    TREE.COM
ANSI.SYS    COMP.COM      DRIVER.SYS    FORMAT.COM    LABEL.COM  RECOVER.COM
APPEND.EXE  CONFIG.SYS    EDLIN.COM     GRAFTABL.COM  MODE.COM   SELECT.COM
ASSIGN.COM  COUNTRY.SYS   EXE2BIN.EXE   GRAPHICS.COM  MORE.COM   SORT.EXE
ATTRIB.EXE  DISKCOMP.COM  FASTOPEN.EXE  IO.SYS        MSDOS.SYS  SUBST.EXE

(that example is imaged from a 360K 5.25" MS-DOS boot floppy)


Another device is the Supercard Pro. I have no personal experience of this one but I did find this review and this page which contains a lot of useful information ragrding the Kryoflux, Supercard and other boards and utilities for reading and preserving floppy disks.

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