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Ask Max: How can I retrieve data from my old 3 1/4 inch floppies?

Asked on 12/15/2009:

Hi Jacob,

In the late 1980s/early 1990s I was teaching space technology in England. The school used ONLY Macintosh computers. When I came back to the states I had to buy a PC/IBM and gave away my Mac. Now I have 100+ 3 1/4 floppies that I'm desperate to retrieve my engineering drawings and other documents from.

How do I solve this problem? The iMac computers today don't even have a 3 1/4 drive port. Can you give me some advice?

- Tom


After you copy those over to your hard drive, keep a copy on your hard drive and burn an archive copy to CD or DVD. Make sure to keep the archive copy someplace safe. The floppy disks will fail over time. The bigger issue will be in reading those drawing files if they are in a proprietary format. I was a big Claris CAD user in my school days and have many of my house blueprints saved in that CAD file format. I keep a copy of Claris Cad running on Mini VMac so that I can read them and create new drawings. It will seem strange, but I have yet to find a modern CAD program to replace Claris CAD.

Check it out and let me know if it works for your files.

- Jacob

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