Using 5.25'' floppy disks with Virtual PC

Using 5.25'' floppy disks with Virtual PC

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Over the weekend I decided to peruse my collection of software to see if there was anything I had not tried running inside of Virtual PC yet - and I spied some very old software that was on 5.25" floppy disks.  Much to my surprise I was able to find a 5.25" floppy drive and was able to read the floppy disks on my physical computer.  The next question is how to get this to work with Virtual PC.

Now, Virtual PC does not support directly using a 5.25" floppy disks.  However there are two ways to get this to work.  First you will need to use WinImage (http://www.winimage.com) to create images of the existing floppy disks.  Then you can either:

  1. Try and use the image directly with Virtual PC.  Even though Virtual PC can only create 1.44mb and 720k floppy disk images - and says that it only supports these in error messages, etc - it does support a number of other formats such as 360k, 1.2mb, 1.68mb, etc.  The potential issue with doing this is that you will be putting a 1.2mb floppy disk into a 3.5" floppy drive.  Some operating systems will have problems with this - others will not (DOS handles this fine).
  2. Use WinImage to change the size of the floppy disk image to 1.44mb and then use it with Virtual PC.  This works some of the time - but occasionally causes problems with programs that expect files to be in specific sectors on the floppy disk.

Cheers,
Ben

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  • I've used 5.25" disks in a virtual machine as well. As you mention, some programs balk at using 5.25" disks in a 3.5" virtual drive.

    It's best in WinImage to save it as an uncompressed image (.IMA) not a compressed one (.IMZ) if I remember correctly.

    The simple solution to the problem mentioned in point #1 is to go in the BIOS of the virtual machine and change the floppy drive from a 3.5" unit to a 5.25" unit. The virtual operating system won't have a clue as to what's going on.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see all this work so nicely. VMware only supports 1.44 MB disks and will actually screw the disks up or crash if you use alternate capacity disks.

    However, I was thinking it would be nice to allow the user to have multiple floppy/optical drives with the configuration being as flexible as VMware...
  • Yes, you must use an uncompressed format. .VFD would be the preferred format, since that is was VPC creates.
  • Another way to go is to use a virtual floppy drive that handles 5.25" disk images inside of your VPC.
    One I use frequently is here:
    http://chitchat.at.infoseek.co.jp/vmware/vfd.html
  • RePost:
    http://www.yeyan.cn/OperatingSystems/floppydisksVirtualPC.aspx
  • I also have had great success using 360 and 1.2 MB VFD images with VPC...with some work and trial & error, I was even able to get VFD images of IBM PC-DOS 1.0 and CP/M-86 1.1 to work (yes they actually do boot from the VFD)
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