Archiving floppy disks and dealing with data corruption

Lukazi posts on the Apple II Projects blog about a tricky Apple II floppy disk archival task:

Matt was looking for someone local to archive software that had been written by the local state education department. He managed to obtain the physical disk by contacting the developer. This software was used locally in schools so it was not wildly dispersed. I had a decent search for information about this software but I couldn’t find any references to it. Since I have an Apple II system setup that can easily generate images from disks or the reverse I didn’t hesitate to call and offer my assistance.

The disk that Matt handed me is the game “Convict” by Paul Holland. It comes in two parts. The first being the research part which I could best describe as an interactive history book. The focus of which is on early European settlement in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The second part is a penal colony simulator where your objective is to allocate resources and punishment in the pursuit of setting up and growing a convict settlement. Even before evaluating the contents of the material I prefer to do the copying. That way if the disk is fragile and on it’s last legs this will result in extracting the best possible information before the disk gets any worse. So far this hasn’t been the case. Most 5.25 inch disks that I have dealt with have stood up pretty well.

Side A of the software copied without a hitch. I was on a roll and thought that within a few minutes I’d be finished. Well that didn’t go to plan. Side B had corruption. At first three sectors were showing up as containing errors. To my surprise, the more I tried copying the disk the better it got. It got to a stage where only one sector was showing up as being corrupt. I then tried using different disk drives and different software packages to copy the software but with no luck. The bad sector was there to stay.

See how the bad sector was analyzed and the software restored in the post here.

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