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Windows 7: How to clone bootable floppy to an HDD?

14 Mar 2016   #1

How to clone bootable floppy to an HDD?

Let me explain my dilemma. In the office we have an old computer that is currently running off a bootable floppy to run custom-made software. The problem is that the floppy disk is running on the last leg, so I decided to clone it to a hard drive. (Otherwise it'd be a very expensive repair if that floppy dies.)

The question is how?

So I did some research and found out that one can use WinImage to clone it. Which I did. But my issue is how to write it to a hard drive and make it bootable. For some reason when I try to do it in WinImage and then boot off of that hard drive I get this error:

Invalid System Disk
Replace the disk, and then press any key
I'm sure I'm doing something wrong, since Windows 7 probably doesn't even know what that old floppy is.

Here's the contents of the floppy that I'm trying to clone. I believe it runs off a DOS system:

So I'd appreciate any input on this? Maybe a different method to copy/clone that floppy to an HDD?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Mar 2016   #2


It's been years since I messed with anything like that, but my first thoughts are try a bootable usb rather than hdd -
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Mar 2016   #3


Thanks. I thought of that too. Unfortunately that PC box is so old that it doesn't have an option to boot from a USB. Can I make a bootable HDD instead of a USB?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Mar 2016   #4
Wandering one

Win7 sp1 Pro 64bit / XP sp2 Pro (games only)

I may be way out in left field here, but perhaps you could install the whole thing in a virtual machine then use a virtual floppy to boot ?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Mar 2016   #5

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)

First thing you should do is make a duplicate copy of the floppy disk using the diskcopy command. That way, you'll be sure your floppy disk is backed up so if the original dies you can use the backup. In order to do that though, you're going to need a DOS boot disk. Are you able to exit from the program and get to a DOS prompt? At a DOS prompt, type ver and press Enter. This will tell you what version of DOS you need. Once you know what version of DOS you need, you can then go to this link: MS-DOS Boot Disk Download | AllBootDisks - Providing Free Boot Disk Downloads. MS-DOS to Windows XP. and download the boot disk that corresponds to the version of DOS you need. That disk will be able to boot and should have the diskcopy command on it that will let you make a backup copy of the disk.

A backup disk should keep you going short term until you figure out how to proceed further. One caveat though. Lots of times custom software has some kind of copy protection and, if that's the case, you won't be able to copy it or create any other way of booting it unless you can get around the copy protection.

Long term solution would be to create a bootable VM running the required DOS version, then copy the files from the floppy to the VM in order to boot and run the software in a VM.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Mar 2016   #6


Thanks, strollin, for your detailed explanation. Unfortunately I cannot exit from the program. In a normal operation that PC doesn't even have a keyboard. (I managed to connect one, but the only thing it does, it beeps when I press keys.) Is there a way to force an app to close in DOS? Something like Task Manager? I'm assuming I need this to get the DOS version, correct?

As disk protection goes, I hope not. Because this company is long out of business. It's been sold and resold and the new owner wants us to buy it all (hardware and software, or in other words, $50K minimum.) So I don't know what I would do.... hope not!

As for the VM, I guess that would be one way, except that I will need to purchase a new Windows box to run that VM. That comes with its own caveat of being able to use hardware used by this custom software. It interfaces with the hardware using an old COM port, so I'm not sure how that would work on a new machine.

One thing I'm curious about, guys -- why is it so difficult to clone that floppy to a disk C?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Mar 2016   #7

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)

If the program doesn't have a button or menu selection to exit itself then you might be out of luck. You could try booting the disk and try timing for the point where DOS has booted but the software program hasn't loaded yet. If you can hit Ctrl-Break at that time you should be able to interrupt the autoexec.bat and drop to a DOS prompt.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Mar 2016   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1, Windows 8.1 Pro x64, Windows 10 Pro x64

While I admit floppy's are not the norm these days they are available for very low prices.

I'm not sure what you mean by "(Otherwise it'd be a very expensive repair if that floppy dies.)" Bytecc BT-145 1.44 MB 3.5-inch Floppy Disk Drive, Black bezel: Computers & Accessories

BYTECC Model BT-145 Floppy Drive -
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2016   #9

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pbcopter View Post
... I'm not sure what you mean by "(Otherwise it'd be a very expensive repair if that floppy dies.)" ...
The floppy itself isn't the issue, it's the software on it that's important. If the one and only copy of the software is on that floppy and the floppy is lost, stolen, damaged or just plain fails, it may not be replaceable. It could also make it so data that can only be accessed via that software is lost as well since it may no longer be accessible.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2016   #10

Linux (Mint is primary) / XP, Win7 Home / Win7 Pro, Ultimate / Win8.1 / Win10 archived VM

From the sounds of it, your software has a copy protection scheme - I've seen it numerous times in the early to mid 1990s. I'll wager that DISKCOPY will not need a more modern utility to copies at a bit level - even then it may not work.

Protections schemes from back then ran the gamut of road blocks including uniques ID numbers read from the floppy and entered in the application, time stamps that get written, deliberate bad blocks written at a specific address (makes copying difficult), etc.

Your vendor is holding you hostage. You should consider a serious upgrade in software and hardware before the device goes down.

Best of luck.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to clone bootable floppy to an HDD?

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