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HowTo: Copy a Diskette in Windows®


Background

Disks that we use for everyday activities are called "working disks". When copying a disk, we refer to the original disk as the "source disk" and we refer to the new one as the "destination disk" (or "target disk"). A distinction exists between making a "duplicate copy" of a disk and making a "backup copy" of a disk. A duplicate copy is simply a reproduction of a working disk, without any intentions regarding future use of the destination disk. A backup copy is a reproduction of a working disk for the express purpose of reinstating the working disk to its original state (prior to the copy being made). As such, you should always record the date that a backup was made on the destination disk when you make the backup. If you make a copy of a disk and plan to use the copy, then that copy is a duplicate disk, but not a backup disk. The only appropriate use for a backup disk is to recover lost data; in other words, copy it back onto a working disk. You should never use a backup disk for any other purpose; otherwise, you run the risk of altering it so that it is no longer a true copy of the original working disk.

How to Copy a Diskette

The following steps provide an example of one method for making a copy of a diskette on a computer using the Windows XP operating system. Every operating system offers commands or utility programs to accomplish this task. If you use an operating system other than Windows XP and want help on copying diskettes, then search with the help service using the phrase "disk copy".

  1. Before inserting your diskette into the drive, look at the back of your diskette and be sure that the plastic "write-protect" slide is covering the small hole in the upper left-hand corner of the (back of ) the diskette.
  2. Insert the diskette to be copied into the floppy diskette drive with the diskette's metal slide going in first. The diskette should latch in place.
  3. Use your mouse to click on the Start button, normally positioned in the lower left-hand corner of your screen. A pop-up menu should appear.
  4. Select the menu choice "My Computer" from the menu by either using the arrow keys on your keyboard to move to the choice and then pressing the Enter key on the keyboard or using the left button on your mouse to click once on the choice.
  5. In the program window that appears, you should see an icon labeled 3½ Floppy (A:). Click only once on it to select it, but do not double-click on it.
  6. Then, from the menu bar at the top of the window, select the menu choice "File".
  7. In the drop-down menu that appears, select the menu choice "Copy Disk...".
  8. A dialog box similar to the one below should appear.
    Copy Disk Dialog Box illustration
  9. Click the Start button in the dialog box. The program will prompt you to "Insert the disk you want to copy from (source disk), and then click OK.". Your source diskette should already be in the drive, so click on the OK button.
  10. The program will copy the contents of your diskette into the main memory of your computer, while showing its overall progress in a bar chart above the Start button. When the bar reaches the half-way point, the process will display the message "Insert the disk you want to copy to (destination disk), and then click OK.". Remove your source diskette and insert a blank formatted diskette (or one that you don't mind writing over) in the drive. Then click on the OK button.
  11. The program will copy the contents of your original diskette from the main memory of your computer to the destination diskette, while showing its overall progress in a bar chart above the Start button. When the bar reaches the end, the process will display the message "Copy completed successfully" below the bar chart.
  12. Remove the duplicated diskette and label and date it.
  13. Click on the Close button to close the Copy Disk dialog box.
  14. Finally, close the My Computer window by clicking on the close button image button in the upper right-hand corner of that window.

The duplicated diskette should be an exact copy of the original. If it is intended to be a backup diskette, then store it in a safe location away from the computer (preferrably off-site).

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