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The official Csa2 (comp.sys.apple2) Usenet newsgroup Apple II FAQs originate from the
GroundApple II site.
Csa2 FAQs-on-Ground ref: Csa2DSKETTE.txt
    Apple 5.25 Inch Diskettes

 001- How many tracks can I use on a 5.25" diskette?
 002- Can I use high-density 3.5" and 5.25" diskettes on my A2?
 003- How can I tell DD from HD diskettes if they are not labeled?
 004- Some old 5.25" disks with splotches don't boot. What gives?
 005- How can I defragment a diskette and what is the speed gain?
 006- Why aren't my old diskettes recognized by GS/OS?
 007- Can I read Apple II diskettes on my PC?
 008- Where the heck can I buy double density 3.5" & 5.25" diskettes?
 009- Where can I find out about different floppy disk formats?
 010- How can I copy disks?
 011- How can I read Apple II 5.25" floppies on a Mac?
 012- Can I create standard 3.5" IIgs diskettes on a Mac?

From: Rubywand

001- How many tracks can I use on a 5.25" diskette? So far,
     I've heard 35, 36, and 40. What's the actual number?

     The standard number of tracks on a 5.25" diskette is set by DOS 3.3 and
ProDOS at 35, numbered 0-34 ($00-$22 in hexadecimal).

     The original Disk ][ drive can usually handle 36 tracks with no problem.
Newer 5.25" drives can handle 40 tracks.

     Various modified versions of DOS 3.3 allow using 36 tracks and a few allow
using 40 tracks. These mods, especially the 36-track versions, were fairly
popular before the advent of 3.5" diskettes when an extra track made a
noticable difference in capacity. However, unless the extra capacity is vital
for some specific application, it is best to stick with 35 tracks in order to
retain full compatibility with disk utilities (such as Copy II Plus) and other


002- Can I use high-density 3.5" and 5.25" diskettes
     on my Apple II?

     I did some magnetization tests on Double Density (800kB) and High Density
(1.4MB) diskette surfaces. The tested DD surface produced more than twice the
deflection of the tested HD surface. Clearly, there is a big difference in
signal levels required to reliably store data on HD vs. DD.

     In fact, 5.25" HD (1.2MB) diskettes will not work at all on Apple Disk ][
drives. The 3.5" HD's may work fine on your 800k drives; or, they may just seem
to work fine. Either way, there's no question: a drive optimized for DD will
not be optimized for HD. If you'd rather not 'roll the dice' on your software
collection, stick with Double Density diskettes.


From: Rubywand, George Rentovich, Mad ATARI user alternate, Joel

003- How can I tell the difference between unlabeled
     DD and HD diskettes?

     3.5" HD (1.4MB) diskettes come with a square notch in the upper left
corner. DD (800kB) 3.5" diskettes do not come with this notch. In the early
days of PC computing, some PC users punched or drilled notch holes in DD
diskettes and used them as HD diskettes. If a 3.5" diskette has a circular
notch in the upper left corner, it is likely to be a DD diskette.

     DD 5.25" (360kB) diskettes look very much like HD 5.25" (1.2MB)
diskettes; however, HD diskettes seem to almost never have a hub ring,
while DD diskettes usually do. The hub ring may be white paper, etc. and easy
to spot or cut from the same material as the diskette and barely noticeable.
This difference has been mentioned by Peter Norton (of Norton Utilities fame)
in one of his books.

     The hub ring makes it easier for the Apple Disk Drive II and other older
DD 5.25" drives to clamp and hold the diskette. Older DD drives also tend to
damage the center when there is no hub. If the hub ring of a DD diskette has
fallen off due to age, it's a good idea to transfer the contents to a new diskette.

     Otherwise, about the only observable difference is that DD diskette surfaces
often exhibit a more brownish cast whereas HD diskette surfaces are generally
dark grey or black.

     The surest test for 5.25" diskettes is to place the diskette into an Apple
Disk II 5.25" drive and try to do a DOS 3.3 format. If it formats okay, it is
almost certainly a DD diskette. (This test will not always work with the newer
40-track drives. Some of these can get through a format with an HD diskette.)


004- Recently I found that some of my old 5.25" disks would
     not boot. A check showed splotches etched on the surface
     of the media. What's going on?

     As you may recall, a number of the classier 5.25" diskette brands employed
(still employ?) a lubricant on their jacket liners. While the lube worked to
reduce drag and noise, it also, evidently, served as a growth medium for a
particularly nasty plastic and/or oxide-eating fungus!

     It's probably a good idea to check each of your old diskettes. Immediately
backup any diskettes with splotchy discolorations.


005- How can I defragment a diskette and what is the speed gain?

     You can defragment a diskette by doing a File Copy of all files to a blank
formatted* diskette or RAM disk which is the same size as the original. The
Files on the copy diskette or RAM disk will be almost completely unfragmented.

*Note: If the diskette is supposed to be bootable, the target disk should be
INITialized for the DOS (e.g. DOS 3.3 or ProDOS) used on the original before
doing the copying. For DOS 3.3, you INIT a disk. For ProDOS, you can do an
"Initialize" from the IIgs Finder or a "FORMAT" using Apple's ProDOS FILER
utility or a ProDOS version of Copy II+.

     A whole-disk copy back to the original completes the process. Tests show
that this method produces much speedier diskettes than using a utility intended
for optimizing hard disks.

     For a nearly full 'workhorse' diskette which has seen may deletions and
additions, you can expect the File Copy defragmentation method to yield a 30%
to 40% improvement in access speed.


006- Why aren't my MECC and many other old diskettes recognized
     by GS/OS and mounted on the Finder display?

     The problem you mention is fairly common. GS/OS via its FSTs has pretty
strict definitions for what qualifies as a valid DOS or ProDOS diskette. For
example, perfectly good 36-track DOS 3.3 diskettes will not be mounted by the
Finder just because the number of tracks is 36 instead of the expected 35.

     Naturally, copy-protected diskettes have practically no chance of being
recognized. Almost certainly, this is the reason the Finder will not mount your
MECC disks.

     You can, still, run software from most copy-protected diskettes by just
booting them.


From: Vincent Joguin, Charlie, Rubywand

007- Can I read Apple II diskettes on my PC?

     Yes. There is a way for some PCs to read Apple II DOS 3.3 and ProDOS
5.25" floppies which are not copy-protected.

     By "some PCs" I mean that the PC must have two floppy drives (only one
has to be a 5.25" drive) and it must be running MS-DOS or Windows 95, 98,
or ME. (It won't work with NT, 2000, and XP).

     You also need a program called "DISK2FDI".
(See Q&A 007 on the File Utils FAQs page.)

     DISK2FDI reads the Apple floppy and creates a disk image (.do) on the
PC.  These images will work on most emulators.

     You may find that DISK2FDI has difficulty reading some sectors which
read fine on your real Apple II. If that happens, try making a fresh copy of
the diskette using Disk Muncher or some other fast whole-disk copier.

     For a collection of postings on using Disk2FDI see ... .


From: Chris Norley

     A while back I requested some information regarding the reading of Apple
II floppies by an PC:


     We have some old data from a small NMR spectrometer that was run from an
Apple IIe. The same spectrometer is now run from a DOS machine and we'd like to
be able to access the old data from the PC.

     Does anyone know of or possess some utility to allow the data from the 5
1/4" Apple II floppies to be read from the PC? Any hints as to program names,
ftp sites, etc. would be greatly appreciated.


>From news ...

Les Ferch

There is a card called the MatchPoint PC card that will let you read and write
Apple II DOS, ProDOS, and CP/M disks on a PC 5.25" 360K drive. We used
to have one installed in an XT here and it worked fine.

The other common way of moving the data is to connect an Apple II to a PC using
a NULL modem cable and using comm programs such as Kermit to transfer the


Michael Hoffberg

About a year ago, I picked up card for my ibm made by TrackStar.  It is
basically an apple II that sits inside your IBM.  When you enable it, it can
boot off an apple drive, it uses the ibm keyboard and monitor.

In any case, I think that it is possible to transfer files between the IBM and
Apple II with the card.


Fred R. Opperdoes

Any Apple II (E or GS) owner having an Applied Engineering PC Transporter
card is able to do the job easily. It is maybe not easy to find such a person in your
neighborhood. Another possibility would be that you ask someone with an Apple
IIGS to have your 5 1/4" Dos 3.3 or Prodos disk transcribed to a 3.5" Prodos
disk. Every IIGS owner would be able to do so. Files on such disks can then
easily be converted to MsDOS files on an MsDOS disk on a Macintosh using the
Apple File Exchange Utility that comes with every modern Mac.


Leonard Erickson

You can use a COPYIIPC deluxe option board or some such. Central Point
Software used to sell them.


From: Peter Maloney

You could use an Apple Turnover, a PC/XT card that allows older IBM floppy drives to
read/write Apple 5.25" diskettes. It was made by Vertex Systems Inc..


From: Rubywand, Brian Hammack, Jay, Joan Sander, Simon Williams,
     Matthew S. Carpenter

008- Where the heck can I buy the double density (DD) 3-1/2 & 5-1/4 diskettes
     required for my Apple II drives?

     Here are places to try ...

GarberStreet Enterprises ( )
sells 5.25" and 3.5" DD diskettes ($3 per box of ten.)

Albert Franklin (email: sells 5.25" DS/DD diskettes. (click on "Disks")
sells 5.25" & 3.5" DD diskettes in bulk (e.g. 3.5" at 50 for $13).
sells 3.5" DD diskettes in bulk (e.g. 100 for $14).

Peripheral Manufacturing, Inc (800-468-6888; sells 5.25" DD diskettes in 10 packs ($2.95) and 50 packs (with sleeves, $15.00).

Commodore 64 & 128 Products (search the page for disks for sale)  sells 5.25" & 3.5" DD diskettes. ( ) sells 5.25" and 3.5" DS/DD diskettes.

Thrift shops: you may find packs of used 5.25" DD diskettes at bargain prices.


From: David Wilson

009- Where can I find out about different floppy disk formats?

     Here is a table of floppy disk formats I have built up over the years:

disk     speed   data rate   encode           trk         sector      trk/hd      size in       disk
size"     rpm        kb/s       scheme           kb         cnt*sz      count       kBytes      type
8     360    500     FM      41.67   26*128  77/1    260     SSSD (8)
8     360    500     FM      41.67   26*128  77/2    520     DSSD (8)
8     360    500     MFM     83.33   26*256  77/1    520     SSDD (9)
8     360    500     MFM     83.33   26*256  77/2    1040    DSDD (9)

5.25  300    250     FM      25.00   8*256   40/1    80      SSSD
5.25  300    250     FM      25.00   8*256   40/2    160     DSSD
5.25  300    245     GCR     49.00   16*256  35/1    140     SSDD (1)
5.25  300    250     MFM     50.00   8*512   40/1    160     SSDD (3)
5.25  300    250     MFM     50.00   9*512   40/1    180     SSDD (3)
5.25  300    250     MFM     50.00   8*512   40/2    320     DSDD (3)
5.25  300    250     MFM     50.00   9*512   40/2    360     DSDD (3)
5.25  300    250     MFM     50.00   9*512   80/2    720     DSDD
5.25  360    300     MFM     50.00   9*512   40/2    360     DSDD (4)
5.25  360    300     MFM     50.00   9*512   80/2    720     DSDD
5.25  360    500     MFM     83.33   15*512  80/2    1200    DSHD (4)

3.5   300    250     MFM     50.00   9*512   80/2    720     DSDD (5)
3.5   300    250     MFM     50.00   5*1024  80/2    800     DSDD (2)
3.5   var    var     GCR     var     var*512 80/2    800     DSDD (7)
3.5   300    500     MFM     100.00  18*512  80/2    1440    DSHD (6)
3.5   var    var     GCR     var     var*512 80/2    1600    DSHD (A)
3.5   300    1000    MFM     200.00  36*512  80/2    2880    DSED

(1)     Apple ][
(2)     Applix
(3)     IBM PC
(4)     IBM PC/AT
(5)     IBM PS/2 25,30
(6)     IBM PS/2 > 30
(7)     Macintosh & Apple //
(8)     IBM 3740
(9)     IBM System 34
(A)    AE 1.6MB drive on Apple //


From: Rubywand

010- How can I copy disks?

     Neither ProDOS nor DOS 3.3 includes a built-in Disk Copy command. So,
to copy diskettes you will need to use some kind of copy utility. The ProDOS
standard Utilities Disk includes a Disk Copy option. The DOS 3.3 System
Master disk includes a Disk Copy program named "COPYA".

     A very good Disk Copy utility for 5.25" (DOS 3.3, ProDOS, ...) diskettes
is Disk Muncher. It is fast; and, the current version will automatically try to
copy 36 tracks (used on some diskettes) and it includes verification
checks. A good fast-copy utility for 3.5" diskettes is Diversi-Copy. The newer
version of the ProDOS Utilities may be adequate for copying many 3.5"
diskettes, too. The popular diskette utilities Copy II Plus and Locksmith
include plain Disk Copy options, too.

     Most of the above will work with standard disk images on emulators.
However, Copy II Plus's regular DISK COPY will not work on emus
(whereas, Locksmith's Fast Copy seems to work fine).

     If you are on a PC running Windows, an easy way to copy a .dsk, .nib,
etc. disk image file is to do a Right-click drag-and-drop of the file in the
same folder.

     On a IIgs, the easiest way to copy ProDOS diskettes is on the usual
Finder desktop. You drag the icon of the disk you want to copy to the
icon of a same-size target disk.

     The above options are fine for copying diskettes which are not copy
protected. COPYA and some other copiers which use the current DOS's
RWTS routines can get around some forms of protection via POKEs to
DOS which turn off checking of Address header bytes, checksums, etc..
Otherwise, a bit copier, such as the ones included in Copy II Plus,
Locksmith, and Essential Data Duplicator, may get the job done. Using
it's built-in parms library, Copy II Plus can reliably make copies of many
copy protected disks.

     If a lot of the software you need to copy is from MECC, a good try is to
get an MECC copy program by John Kielkopf named "meccopy". It makes
deprotected copies of many MECC diskettes.

     You can find Disk Muncher, Copy II Plus, and other utilities mentioned
above on several archives as separate files, on disks in ShrinkIt whole-disk
(.sdk) form, and on emulator disk images (.dsk files).  To download
see links in File Utils Q&A 007.


From: Streaming Wizard, Phil Beesley

011- How can I read Apple II 5.25" floppies on a Mac?

     Reading Apple II 5.25" floppies on a Mac requires the addition of special
hardware. One company, Kennect, did make two drives that would handle this
trick: the Drive 360 and the Drive 1200. They were primarily meant for reading
5.25" PC disks but were also advertised as having the ability to read Apple II
DOS 3.3 and ProDOS floppies. Both required a device called the "Rapport",
which plugged into the Mac's external floppy port and also gave the internal
3.5" drive the ability to read 720K PC disks.

     If your Mac is an LC or some later model with the LC Processor Direct
Slot (PDS) and it supports 24-bit memory addressing, you may be able to
plug in a IIe LC Card (or "IIe Emulation Card"). This, basically, installs an
Apple //e in your Mac to which an Apple II 5.25" Platinum drive can be
connected. For more information, see Main Hall Q&A 014.


From: Supertimer

012- Can I create standard 3.5" IIgs diskettes on a Mac?

     You are most likely to succeed with an older Mac. However, even older Macs
that have built in compatible 800k (DD) drives will often produce a IIGS diskette
that is not quite right-- such as a diskette that should boot gives the "Unable to
Load ProDOS" error message.

     If you have an older Mac that should write standard IIgs disks properly and it
does not, clean your Mac drive and keep trying. For instance, you may need to
extract a diskcopy archive a few times for the disk to write properly.

     Newer Macs are, generally, less likely to succeed. Some Macs, such as iMacs
with a floppy drive option, cannot format IIgs-compatible 800k diskettes.


From: Simon Williams

     There was a thread discussing the impossibility of creating bootable ProDOS
disks from a Mac with a 'force-feed' floppy drive. Seems it ain't necessarily so.

     Using Bernie ][ the Rescue on a G3 iMac with a cheap USB floppy, I first
create a Diskcopy 4.2 800KB image, which I copy to a 1.44 MB diskette with
the finder.

     Then I transfer the disk image to a PowerPC 6100/66 which has the non-
auto-inject disk drive (running System 7.5)... copy the image to the HD. Format
an 800KB ProDOS disk with the finder and then use DiskDup+ to copy the
image to the floppy...

     So far it's worked perfectly. I've made both GS/OS 5 & 6 and ProDOS
startup disks this way... :)  The one oddity is that GS-formatted disks take a
long time to write, whereas the ones formatted under MacOS seem to write
much quicker...

     DiskDup+ is the key. I wondered myself why I hadn't tried Diskcopy... so
I tried it -- without success.

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