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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Floppy Disk Drives | File System Problems ]

I am trying to copy files to a floppy disk but it says it cannot copy even though the disk is not full

Explanation: You are trying to copy a large number of files to a floppy disk but you are being told that you are "out of room" or simply not being allowed to copy more than a certain number to the disk.

Diagnosis: The most common cause of this problem is filling up the root directory on the disk. The number of files that can be stored in the root directory of any disk is limited, because the root directory is the only one that cannot be expanded in size. The maximum number of entries depends on the type of disk but is generally 112 for the double-density drives and 224 for the high-density drives. The use of long file names can drastically reduce this number due to the fact that they use up directory entries to store the long names. (Note that all of this applies to hard disks as well but rarely is seen on hard disks since most files there are kept in subdirectories; floppies usually see most of their files in the root directory).


  • Simple solution: create a subdirectory and copy the files there. Subdirectories can be as large as will fit on the disk.
  • Avoid the use of long file names, especially in the root directory.
  • Consolidate the files into an archive, through the use of a utility like PKZIP. This also gives significant performance advantages, since it takes much less time to copy one large file from/to a floppy than to copy many smaller ones.
  • Bear in mind that floppy disks use clusters to store files, just as hard disks do. This is usually not a problem for floppy disks because the clusters are so small: only 512 or 1024 bytes (whereas hard disk cluster sizes can be as high as 32,768, so there is much more opportunity for lost space due to slack there). Still, if you think that you can fit 10,000 files that are only 100 bytes each onto a 1.44 MB floppy disk, you are going to be unpleasantly surprised before you get even close to halfway done (you can do this again by using an archive like PKZIP).

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