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Forensic/Born-Digital Lab recovers professor's WordPerfect files from floppy disks



5.25 inch. floppy disk

Professor Donald Emmerson from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies found seven 5.25 floppy disks containing files created using WordPerfect 5.1 under MS DOS 3.3 in 1992 and 1993. Dave Sare at the Institute posted "Professor needs to convert old files SOLUTION" in the expert partners mailing list and thereafter we are connected.

I offered Prof. Emmerson to use our equipment - an in house custom built modern personal computer with a 5.25 inch floppy disk drive! The customer built station is also equipped with QuickView Plus - a software which can read and render files in several hundreds obsolete file formats, including WordPerfect 5.1. Prof. Emmerson was able to insert his 5.25 inch. floppy disk in "Drive A:" and then use QuickView Plus to view the files on the monitor! Together with Adobe Acrobat Professional, he could print the file in pdf format and store them in his memory stick. We were 100% successful with the first 5.25 inch floppy disk. We were "only" able to read 166 files out of the 211 files in the 2nd & 3rd disks due to bad sectors in the disks. But Prof. Emmerson was more than happy with that 79% rate of recovery, and we had no problems with the remaining 4 disks. After 2.5 hours, Prof. Emmerson was able to recover 225 WordPerfect files created more than 20 years ago and stored in 5.25 inch floppy disks to 225 pdf files in his memory stick for viewing with his modern Mac using Adobe reader. I am very glad we could be of help to Prof. Emmerson. We welcome anyone in Stanford community to contact us if they have similar problems.

by Peter Chan

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March 9, 2016