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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Floppy Disk Drives | Errors ]

I am getting "General failure reading drive A:" error messages trying to access the floppy disk

Explanation: While attempting to access the floppy disk, you get a general failure error. The disk may or may not actually be accessed (meaning the activity light may or may not come on) when you try the command.

Diagnosis: The most common cause of this problem is trying to read an unformatted disk. If a working disk produces this problem, and especially if the drive activity light doesn't come on, this points to a problem with the drive or controller.


  • Make sure that you have a disk in the drive that is formatted and working properly. Using an install disk from a software package for testing is a good idea. Try several disks and see if the problem occurs with all of them.
  • Make sure the floppy drive types are properly set up in the system BIOS.
  • If the drive activity light comes on before the error is displayed then this implies a problem with the drive or with the disk in the drive at the time.
  • The disk could be badly corrupted. Troubleshoot corruption here.
  • Watch for any known-good disks that stop working after a period of time; there could be a virus at work so be sure to scan for viruses on your hard disk and any floppies you use regularly.
  • If the drive activity light does not come on at all when you try to access the drive and immediately you get a general failure error, this implies strongly that there is a problem with the floppy disk controller. (Usually a failure of the drive would cause the disk to not be recognized at all, producing an "Invalid drive specification" error). Troubleshoot the controller here.
  • If you can't find any other cause, suspect the floppy disk itself and troubleshoot it in this section.

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