As retro machines get older, preserving software becomes more important as the media isn’t often as long lived as the machines themselves. Diskettes can be destroyed by ordinary wear and tear, the environment they’re stored in, and even extreme weather such as hurricanes or floods. But sometimes not all hope is lost. Today we’re going to look at reviving flood damaged diskettes.
I’ve gradually been collecting “new” software for my Sharp X68000 XVI; it’s usually fairly difficult to find titles on these shores - most things need be imported directly from sellers in Japan. Earlier this year I found a series of auctions for X68000 software in the United States that had been in a basement flood and were being sold as non-working scrap for pennies.
I bought a few of these packages, and in most cases the water hadn’t made it into the sturdy plastic boxes that most X68000 software ships in, so only the paper slipcover inserts looked a little ratty. One title was throughly damaged though - Tritorn Final.
The game packages had been stored in boxes with biodegradable packing peanuts made of starch. When these peanuts get wet, they break down and become a sort of goo that gets into everything. The Tritorn disks, though dry when I received them, were completely fused in their jackets due to the starch.
I now wish I’d taken a few photos of the actual process - just didn’t think it of it at the time - but the first step was to get the diskettes wet again so they could be separated from their jackets without damaging them further. After a soaking in water, I used an Xacto knife to cut the welds at the top of the disk jacket, and while wearing gloves, carefully removed the inner mylar disks. Next, I throughly rinsed and placed the mylar disks on a clean, lint free micro fiber towel. Another micro fiber towel was placed on top to guard against contamination.
Once the mylar innards were removed, the disk jackets were throughly rinsed, then stuffed with bubble wrap to prevent the inner padded lining from bonding together while drying.
After everything was completely dry, I reassembled the diskettes, sealing the top seam with small drops of cyanoacrylate near the locations of the original welds. I also wound up placing tape across the seam as they were getting stuck in the disk drive.
The result of all this pain was a working copy of Tritorn Final as seen in the attached images. At this point if you have means, duplicate the diskettes onto fresh blanks. Unfortunately, some titles are copy protected which can often make this difficult.