Computing: Computer Administration

VMware: Irrecoverable error when accessing floppy diskettes.

When downloading software for old operating systems, you often find the applications as floppy images (.img files). This is in particular true for downloads from WinWorld, where most software is available on the media (.img files that have been made of the media) as it was originally distributed. The .img files may thus correspond to different types of floppy diskettes. Most commonly these are 3.5" diskettes with a capacity of 1,440 kB; 3.5" diskettes with 720 kB, and sometimes with only 360 kB may also be found. All 3.5" diskettes work correctly with VMware (at least with VMware Workstation 16). This is not true for 5.25" floppies: VMware issues an irrecoverable error when a VM tries to access a 5.25" floppy (at least for diskettes with a size of 1,200 kB).

VMware irrecovrable error when accessing a 5.25 inch, 1.2 MB floppy diskette

In such a case, the execution of the virtual machine aborts. Normally this does not hurt the VM, and as the first Windows operating systems recovered normally well from a sudden shutdown, this has normally no consequences for the operating system on the VM.

As VMware don't seem to be particularly interested in supporting old systems (hardware, as well as software), this is probably a bug that will probably continue to be present in future Workstation releases. Anyway, there is a relatively simple work-around: Just copying the diskettes' content onto 3.5" floppies (another possibility, that should normally work, would be to burn the diskettes' content onto a CDROM, resp. including it into an ISO file).

This help text shows how to extract the files from a 5.25" diskette and copy them onto a 3.5 virtual floppy diskette. It is supposed that the following 2 applications are installed on your computer:

Lets begin by preparing the target diskettes: Just take any 3.5" diskette and copy it as much times as you need (i.e. as much times as there are 5.25" diskettes in your software installation set) to some working folder.

Then, extract the content of the 5.25" diskettes to separate folders (a folder for each diskette), using the 7-Zip Extract To functionality in the File Explorer context menu.

Extracting the content of the 5.25 inch diskettes using 7-Zip

Now, mount the 3.5" diskettes in ImDisk (one after the other). This will create a virtual floppy drive in File Explorer. You could simply delete the files on the diskette, but I think that the better practice is to format the diskette. This makes sure that it's really clean, and also, it gives the possibility to add a volume label.

Formatting the 3.5 diskette in the virtual ImDisk floppy drive

And finally, copy/paste the files from the extraction folders onto the 3.5" diskettes (one after the other, too, of course).

Formatting the 3.5 diskette in the virtual ImDisk floppy drive

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