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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    invisible floppy drive

    I have a mystery with my sister's Dell PC. She's not technical at all so she ships it to me to fix things that can't be done by remotely logging into her PC (which I do on a regular basis). (hey it's cheaper to ship it from MI to CA than pay a dweeb in a computer store $65/hour just to open the case). The latest mystery is that MyComputer shows a valid A: but she can't find it on her PC! The place where she would insert a floppy is covered with a factory installed plastic face plate. I did manage to explain to her how to remove the cover and look inside but she can't find a floppy drive. Now that's not to say it is not there, she's not really sure what she's looking at and there is no video camera we have hooked up so I can see what she's doing.

    She absolutely has to have this drive A: to work with an older program she bought. I previously had her buy an external floppy but that comes up as B: and this software only looks at A: (and there is no way to tell it different). I tried re-assigning drive letters but Windows XP wouldn't let me do that since it says that drive A: exists. I remember in the old DOS days I was able to redirect one drive to another but forgot the command (and XP's version of DOS probably doesn't implement that command anyway).

    Any ideas on what I can get her to check to either unplug this phantom drive or are there other solutions?

    She went to a local computer store and asked a guy there and he said she would have to buy a floppy drive from Dell!! What idiots they are - I hope this isn't typical of most computer store staff but I think it is. I told her that guy didn't know what he was talking about and that it's easy to install a floppy drive. Now of course, I am not looking forward to talking her through it on the phone, ya know? <img src=/S/dizzy.gif border=0 alt=dizzy width=15 height=15>

    Thnx, Deb

  2. #2
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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    The SUBST command does still work in a Windows XP Command window.

    Many new PCs do not have floppy drives. Have you got her to look in device manager to see if it thinks there is a floppy drive?

    StuartR

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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    Not sure about using the A: designation for this, but I have seen the 5 in 1, 7 in 1, and X in 1 card readers setup with static drive assignments, without having the media present in the slots. Could your sister's PC have such media bays?
    Christopher Baldrey

  4. #4
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    Ah yes, SUBST, that's it, I forgot what command I used to use. I'll try that to substitute A: for B: and so when that program looks to A: it'll actually be going to her external USB B: floppy drive. I'm sure that'll work. To answer another poster's comment, yes A: does show up in MyComputer but there is no drive physically attached (maybe some jumper is set or a cable is connected on one end that is telling the OS that it is installed). I couldn't get to the Properties menu of A: (by right-clicking on A but it shows as working properly in device drivers list.

    Thnx,
    Deb

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    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    No, her PC is a basic Dell Dimension, one hard drive, one CDR, one CD-RW. In MyComputer, A: does show up.

    Another poster mentioned using SUBST which I used to use in the old DOS days, I'm pretty sure that'll work enough to redirect all calls to A: to B: (her external USB floppy drive).

    Thnx,
    Deb

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    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    I can't get this to work after all. I have another PC at home with WinXP and I have a DOS window open and did "subst b: a:" but I get an error saying "The current directory is invalid." I tried it with "" and still failed. This PC has a floppy A: but not B:

    Actually it partly worked with "subst k: a:" but it displayed error "Path not found -A:" since I didn't have a floppy in the drive. Putting a floppy in would work BUT I'm trying to get it to work w/o a floppy since my sister's PC doesn't have one. So it appears the origin path has to be functional and in my case, drive A: is not functional. I'll take a peak in the BIOS to see if anything can be changed there. Of course my BIOS is not exactly what she has so I shutter to think about having her poke around in it w/o me seeing what she's doing (I can't log into her PC remotely while the BIOS is showing of course).

    It did work for a hard drive though.. I have C:, J: as hard drives and I did "subst k: j:/alyse" where j:/alyse is an existing folder. It created drive k: on the MyComputer listing and doing "dir k:" does list the files on "j:/alyse" as expected.

    Well I guess she'll have to either mail her PC to me, or take a bunch of digital pix that I can see and try to figure out where her invisible hard drive might be. Oh joy <img src=/S/bash.gif border=0 alt=bash width=35 height=39>

    I read through help on subst and it makes reference to lastdrive command being required but when I go to the help for lastdrive, it says it's not a valid WinXP command *ha*

    Thnx, Deb

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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    When you issued the command
    <code>SUBST B: A:</code>
    you should have had a working floppy in drive A, otherwise you'd expect to get the error "The current directory is invalid".

    On your friends PC, where there is no drive A, I think you should be able to install an external floppy drive as B, then put a floppy in it and
    <code>SUBST A: B:</code>

    After doing this, any software that tries to access A: should be redirected to the B: external floppy.

    Please note: I haven't tested this, it is just an assumption based on reading documentation and having used SUBST with DOS many years ago. Also if you issue the SUBST command in a command window, I think you will need to run your DOS application in that same command window.

    StuartR

  8. #8
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    Well I tried all combos, doesn't work. I remotely connected to my sister's PC and used SUBST thru a DOS window. It seems the rules to use this require a working drive. I tried these combos with associated error messages:

    subst a: b:
    "invalid parameter = a:"

    subst b: a:
    "invald parameter = a:"

    subst b: a:
    "path not found = a:"

    Help for subst says this:
    SUBST [drive1: [drive2ath]

    drive1: specifies a virtual drive to which you want to assign a path
    [drive2:] path specifies a physical drive and path you want to assign to a virtual drive

    "subst k: b:" works fine since k: didn't exist before but b: is valid (and there is floppy drive with floppy disc inserted)

    In device manager, drive A: exists and is 'working properly'. I can view its properties in MyComputer just fine, but it really doesn't physically exist on her PC. I'll have her take pix of the insides of the PC and maybe I can spot it otherwise she'll have to either mail it back to me to add a drive or take it to someone (and not the local computer store dweeb or said she'd have to buy a drive from Dell).

    The software that is causing all this problem is a valid Windows app (not DOS) but there is no way to tell it to use another floppy drive letter. It's software that runs an embroidery program she uses with her sewing machine. The patterns she creates on her PC are written to the floppy and the floppy is then fed into her sewing machine so she can create the design on fabric. Newer models of the sewing machine use USB drives or CDs but they're $4000+ more than her model.

    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    Deb

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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    Try this - disconnect the external floppy. Then go into device manager and uninstall both drives. Restart the machine and verify that the drives are not there. Then reconnect the external floppy.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    Deb,
    Have you tried going into the bios to see what is listed as the floppy drive? It's probably listed as a 1.44MB removable drive. This is probably set manually, and not on auto-detect. There may be an option to change the removable drive, or to tell the computer that there isn't one installed. It sounds as if Windows is just parrotting what the bios tells it is in there.

  11. #11
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    You may be right and this may be where I have to go next. Unfortunately I live in CA and my sister is in MI and I don't feel comfortable trying to walk her through the BIOS menus w/o seeing what she's doing. She is very novice at using her computer and since I can't remotely log into her PC when the BIOS menus are visible, I can't do it for her. I'll try and call her tonight so I can try the suggestion from another poster - disable A: and unplug the external USB B: drive, reboot, and plug in the USB hoping that it gets assigned as A: I think that'll work but if not, I may have to do the BIOS thing--- I don't have the same PC as she does and so don't know exactly what her BIOS menu looks like, they're all similar but for a beginner it's a mined field. <img src=/S/blowup.gif border=0 alt=blowup width=60 height=60>

    Thnx, Deb

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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    I was under the impression that she ships the PC to you for work, so I thought you had it there with you. You're right in that she probably would have a difficult time wandering around in the bios settings. Perhaps she knows someone out there in CA (who's not a clueless newbie) who could walk her through it while you're on the phone with her? Co-worker, friend, neighbor, friendly ten-year-old kid?

  13. #13
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    Yes, you're right she does ship it to me to fix major things (those that I can't do remotely) but at the moment, I'm in CA and the PC is in MI so I'm trying to figure out what can be done remotely for now.... For $32 she can ship it UPS to me so round trip cost is still less than a typical PC repair shop. Even GeekSquad I think would cost more, not sure though. She said she has a co-worker who has a geekie son so that might be an option. I don't thinks she's asked this person yet.

    I'll get this figured out in next day or two.

    Thnx,
    Deb

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    Re: invisible floppy drive

    I wish my sister would ship me hers; emailing back and forth is ten times more difficult than just fixing the thing. She's a doctor, not a geek, and has no real desire (or time) to learn about her computer. It'd be much easier to just ship it to me once or twice a year. Shipping it didn't occur to me. Thanks for the idea! She wouldn't have to wait until the Xmas visit that way...

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