Unable to write to physical host floppy drive

Discussions related to using VirtualBox on Windows hosts.

Unable to write to physical host floppy drive

Postby Uncle Leo » 8. Jul 2018, 14:14

Hi Guys,
Is this me, or windows 10?

I'm running a Win98 VM on a win10 host. The host has a physical floppy drive installed.
I can read and write to the floppydrive from within win10.

From within the Win98 VM I can use the floppy as "host A" and read from floppies without problem.
But I cannot write to floppies. Even floppies I have successfully formatted in the host OS moments earlier, are accessible to the win98 client, but I cannot format or write to it.

Is this win10 preventing this from happening?

Notes for responders:
- I know about img files/virtual floppy images. They are irrelevant for this question
- Yes I do have a requirement to use physical floppies. I wouldn't have asked this question otherwise.
- Yes, I have tried to search for the answer in this forum, but they are all about problems reading floppies. Irrelevant in this case.
- It is a real floppy drive connected on ATA flatcable. No USB drive.

Thanks for your time.
Last edited by Uncle Leo on 8. Jul 2018, 14:19, edited 1 time in total.
Uncle Leo
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Re: Unable to write to physical host floppy drive

Postby mpack » 8. Jul 2018, 14:17

Please provide a VM log file. With the VM fully shut down, right click it in the GUI. Select "Show Log" and save "VBox.log" (no other file) to a zip file. Attach the zip here.
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Re: Unable to write to physical host floppy drive

Postby ntsc525 » 8. Feb 2019, 05:10

Sorry to bump this old post, but I also have a need to create floppies to support ancient equipment.

I have a stack of floppy images on my HDD, and occasionally have to scrounge an actual physical diskette (Thank you, AOL from the 1990s), and build an image to run on an old server.

All of the utilities I would need to run such as DOSIMAGE, and in the case of old Digital AlphaServers, a utility to create a Fail Safe Loader for emergencies, well, these are all 16 bits, and of course by the time I realize I need a floppy it's been years and I find myself with a Windows 10 machine and no way to get a .IMG file to a floppy, and certainly no way to run an old DOS utility to create a non-DOS formatted diskette.

So, I thought I'd build FreeDOS on a VirtualBox VM specifically for the purpose of running these old programs.

Unfortunately, I can read from, but cannot write to the floppy through the VM, even though it's writeable from Windows.

Advice such as "replace those old systems", or anything that does not answer my question are useless. These old systems are lurking all around us, and you have no idea how many parts of your life they still touch. They're inside Telcos, hospitals, government agencies, aerospace companies, banks, credit unions, police and fire departments, water and power utilities, just to name a few.

I can barely control the cats in my neighborhood, let alone convince all of these agencies and companies to upgrade, or even to hang on to all the floppies they tossed years ago. So, until I retire, I will, every couple of years or so, be required to figure out how to create a floppy to support some mission critical antique. If you have an attitude of "screw 'em, they need to keep up", think about that the next time you dial 911.

Any advice would be appreciated.

If you only like the latest and greatest technology and you happen to work at a company that has nothing over 3 years old, consider yourself lucky.

Sorry for the long tirade, but the original question, again, is:

How can I make a physical floppy drive writable (formattable and block by block as well, just as on a physical PC)?

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Re: Unable to write to physical host floppy drive

Postby ntsc525 » 25. May 2019, 00:29

I finally have my answer:

How does one copy image files to floppy diskettes or create images from floppy diskettes in Windows 10?

Step one:
Copy image files to portable media such as a thumb drive or NAS.

Step two:
Shut down Windows 10.

Step three:
Boot into your favorite Linux Distro and follow the instructions on this web page:
https://untitledfinale.wordpress.com/20 ... der-linux/

The problem with Virtualbox, DOSBox and other utilities I've tried in Windows is, most utilities one would use, including one utility that I have to use that creates a non-DOS formatted diskette, needs direct low level access to the diskette drive, which apparently Windows 10 doesn't allow, or none of the virtualization programs I've tried seem to work.

However, using Linux, you can even create an empty floppy image, and with that, from a Windows or Linux version of DosBox, (and I assume a VirtualBox VM running windows XP that can mount a floppy image) one can run the needed programs and create the bootable or special diskette image from that.

The only way I have found to transfer that floppy.img file to a physical floppy drive, however, has been Linux, using the dd command, which is very dangerous in that a typo can wipe out your system disk!

Now, I'm going to see if I can create a bootable Linux thumb drive that I hope my employer's security will allow me to boot from my Windows laptop so I can manage my floppies!

If anyone has an idea how to make that last jump, of simply copying a floppy image file to a physical diskette in Windows 10, I'd still like to hear about it.

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