How to Clean a Floppy Disk Drive
Level of difficulty:
During the early days of computer technology and before the optical media storages (CD and DVD) and USB Flash drives made their way into the picture, the floppy disk was the most common form of removable storage media. Beginning with the 5.25-inch 360Kb capacity up to the 1.44Mb floppy disk, it remained for some time as the most viable and cost effective way of saving and backing up data for computer systems both in the business and the home environment. One of the main problems with the floppy disk storage was unlike the CD or DVD optical drives, the disk of the floppy cannot be wiped and was stored inside a protective casing making it impossible to clean thereby allowing for a greater possibility of transferring any dust or dirt onto the floppy drive's read and write heads. The result of this problem commonly lead to errors in both the read and write processes and the display of the annoying message, Please insert disc when using a dirty floppy drive.""
- Cotton swab
- Floppy disk cleaner
- Pure alcohol
The first and most sensible way of making sure that your floppy disk drive remains clean is to keep your floppy disks clean. This means that they should not have scratches and protected from dust and dirt by placing them inside plastic casings.
The floppy disk should also be protected from exposure to extreme temperatures. This will affect the quality of the disk and makes the read and write drive of the floppy drive work harder in attempting to access the contents.
The most commonly recommended way of cleaning the floppy disk drive is by purchasing a floppy disk cleaner. This is actually considered as the safest aside from keeping your floppies clean because you do not physically touch the read and write heads.
To use the floppy disk cleaner, you squeeze some of the contents into the cleaning disc which is made of some type of absorbent material and insert it into the floppy disk drive.
Open the Windows Explorer tool and access the floppy disk drive. This will cause the drive to read the contents thinking that it is a regular floppy disk. The movement of the read and write heads against the cleaning surface will remove light dust and dirt that may be stuck on the heads.
In case the cleaning fluid runs out, make sure to buy the same type of cleaning fluid that came with the original package to avoid damaging the floppy disk drive heads.
For more extreme cases, the actual floppy disk drive will need to be opened. Remove the drive from the CPU casing.
Using a screwdriver, slowly remove the locking screws at the side and bottom portion of the floppy drive. This will allow you to slide open the top cover of the drive.
With a cotton swab soaked in pure alcohol, slowly and carefully clean the read and write heads. Take caution to avoid locking the heads out of alignment. Make use of slow and light dabbing motion by touching the head and lifting the cotton swab away repeatedly.