Formatting a 720KB Double Density Floppy Disk in XP/Vista

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As some of you know, from the introduction of XP onwards it no longer supports the formatting of floppy disks smaller than 1.4MB. So how do we format a DD floppy disk as a 720KB PC disk to use for transferring files from a PC to an Amiga?

There are two fairly simple solutions. The first is still built into Windows.


Method 1

  1. Open a new command prompt by going to Start->run and typing CMD
  2. Insert your blank floppy disk into the drive.
  3. Type Format A: /T:80 /N:9
  4. Your floppy disk will be formatted as a 720KB Double Density Floppy Disk ready to be read by an Amiga.

Method 2

  1. Download the program FMT (see below)
  2. Extract the FMT.EXE file anywhere on your HD in a location you will remember.
  3. Open a new command prompt by going to Start_>run and typing CMD
  4. Navigate to the location of the FMT.EXE file on your HD
  5. Type FMT A: /f:720
  6. Your floppy disk will be formatted as a 720KB Double Density Floppy Disk ready to be read by an Amiga.

Which method is better? And how do the commands work?

Both of these methods work just as well, so it is up to you which one you use.

If you look at the command for the Windows Format command, from XP you now need to specify the number of tracks and number of sectors to format a 720KB disk. Before XP you used to be able to type Format A: /f:720 just as you do for the FMT command. But that now no longer works so you need to specify the tracks and sectors.

The FMT program has some interesting options beyond just formatting a 720KB disk. If you also need to format other sizes it supports many different ones from 360KB up to 1.68KB.

Reading PC formatted Floppy Disks in an Amiga

To read a 720KB PC formatted floppy disk in an Amiga you must have a version of CrossDOS installed on your Amiga. This is built into all versions of Workbench since version 2.1. If you have an older version of Workbench then you will need to try and get hold of the standalone version of CrossDOS and install it into your copy of Workbench. The standalone version of CrossDos should work with Workbench 1.3 and above.

With WB2.1+ you first need to mount the PC0: device driver by typing mount PC0: into an Amiga shell, or by moving the PC0: device from the Storage/DOSDrivers folder into the Devs/DVSDrivers folder. If you move the device then Workbench should be able to read PC formatted disks all of the time without the need to manually mount the device each time.

Once the PC0: device is mounted you can insert the PC formatted floppy and the Amiga will be able to read and write to it just as it would an Amiga formatted disk.

Discussion Forum

Discuss this article in the classicamiga forum thread Formatting 720KB Floppy under XP/Vista.



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