FDD issues with Win98

Okay. So I had Windows 98 on an old Pentium 133, and I turned it on one day and i get a drive not ready error when trying to access the drive in Windows. However when I’m in DOS, or booting from a floppy, the drive works without issues. I did a clean install of Win98SE, nothing. I booted into safe mode and removed the floppy controller from Device Manager, nothing. I don’t know what else I could do to fix this. Any advice?


  • Check that the drive is set up properly in the machine's BIOS setup.

    Also, check that the cable to the floppy is properly connected. If possible, try a different cable. (I have seen one mode of cable failure where what you describe happened).

    Also, check the machine for viruses. A boot sector virus can sometime cause problems like that.
  • Drives are configured correctly in the BIOS. The cable is fine. I ended up reformatting the entire drive twice and the issue still persists. I even downgraded to Win95 to see if that helped, and nothing.
  • It might be worth noting that the floppy drive works when booting into safe mode as well. It just doesn’t work on a normal boot.
  • If the floppy drive works in safe mode, then there is a problem with the protected mode floppy driver. The most likely cause is a virus that as a side effect of trying to infect new disks will block the protected mode floppy driver. If you have a known clean boot floppy with anti-virus on it, try running that and see what turns up. That boot virus may be on the floppy install disks for both Win98 and Win95 and each new install has installed a new copy of the virus. Plan for making new clean copies of every floppy disk used on that system.

    It is possible that a memory issue or hard disk issue could corrupt the driver but it is unlikely to affect the driver on multiple installs and after multiple reboots. The driver won't be in the same place each time and if the problem is widespread enough to catch the moved driver, other programs should be bombing out all time.
  • My Win95 installation is on a legit CD, so idk how a virus could have gotten on the system after a format and clean install... I’m going to swap out the hard drives and do a clean install on the new one and see if that changes anything. I’m really good about making sure all my floppies are write protected before I use them. I booted from a McAfee Emergency Boot Disk and it scanned the system and turned up nothing. Then again it’s virus definitions are from 1998 so I’m taking that with a grain of salt. I didn’t think it would be possible for a virus to survive a full format of a hard drive...?
  • How did you "reformat"? If you only used the DOS format then a virus in the master boot record would have been untouched.

    The way I usually do it is to completely wipe the IDE drive with MaxLLF: https://winworldpc.com/product/maxtor-low-level-format-utility/11
  • I just typically use the DOS format. I’ll use the tool you recommended and get back with you.
  • While on the subject of viruses, does anybody have any recommendations on what antivirus software would have been most up to date for Win95?
  • Update:

    So I used the above mentioned utility to wipe the disk, installed Win95 (again) and the problem persists.
  • Final update:

    So, I know this sounds crazy, but I removed my SoundBlaster Pro 2 sound card and the drives started working.... after all this work....all I needed to do was remove the sound card. 😑
  • Glad to hear that worked. It must have been some kind of resource conflict. The only thing is... that SHOULD not have conflicted with anything.

    You can check the jumper settings and verify if the card is actually working properly elsewhere.

    It could be that Windows 98 did not identify the sound card right and either needs a different protected mode sound driver or needs its resource allocation changed.
  • You should take your FFD apart and check for dust and corrosion. Those things have been around for a long time now and sucked in now end of dust and dirt. This can easily be misinterpreted as as software error when trying to read / write or format disks. Dust is a notable issue and is easily blown out. The heads can be cleaned with metal polish or some other compatible cleaning solution. The FFD is easy disassemble /reassemble by removing the metal casing and the heads reached with cleaning solution on a cotton wool bud or just your finger and a cloth. This cured the problems I was seeing on my drives.
  • @Capsndave It tuned out to be a resource error/conflict that was not showing up in Windows. Must have been something funky going on with the BIOS, or possibly my SoundBlaster card is no good :(
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