Caution: Single-Sided vs. Double-Sided
Author: from Diskette Gazette
Date: February, 1987
Keywords: floppy disk tips hints
Text: (Editor's Note: This article was reprinted with permission from the Diskette Gazette, a newsletter published by International Datawares Inc. International Datawares sells disks, accessories and public domain software and offers their interesting newsletter free to anyone who sends in their name to the Diskette Gazette, 2278 Trade SZone Blvd., San Jose, CA 95131. We reprint this to add information to our continuing discussion re: single-sided vs. double-sided disks. When I spoke with the Editor of the Gazette he did say that by the end of the year the differences between the two may very well be negligible, but for the present time using single-sided disks as double -sided is dangerous.) Many people are asking about the use of single-sided disks for double-sided storage in double-sided drives. We have talked about this with Apple Computer and with several disk and disk drive makers. In all cases, both the drive and disk manufacturers warn against using single-sided media as double, even when the disks format properly as doubles.
There are several reasons put forward to support this position: (1) The double-sided disk is certified error-free on both sides but single-sided is not. This is a prime reason. (2) Different material is used in the double-sided medium to handle the magnetic fields that are written on both sides. Without it there could be ''print-through'' that damages the data. (3) The burnishing and lubrication of the disk is done on both sides for the double-sided version, thus saving read/write head wear in the drive. (This implies that it would be better to use DS disks only in a DS drive in order to minimize head wear.) (4) The metal hub in the middle of the disk has a smaller tolerance for movement in a double-sided drive; that is, higher precision disks are needed for reliable double-sided operation. These reasons combine to make a good case for purchasing only double-sided media for use in double-sided drives. This is similar to the early days of 5.25 inch drives. When the double versions started showing up, the same types of recommendations were made by the industry. And for a while they were right. After a couple of years, however, it didn't matter any more since almost all single-sided disks were really double (due to manufacturing economies, it became less expensive to make both single and double sided-disks on the same production line; final certification is done for just one side for single-sided products). It appears that, indeed, the 3.5 inch industry is beginning to move in just such a direction. After another year or two almost all the disks will really be double-sided. For double-sided drives, we suggest that it makes sense at this time to use double-sided disks for all important work. For some games or less important items, a single-sided disk that can be successfully formatted as a double could be used in order to save money. If maximum head life in the drive is a concern, however, it might be wise to stick with certified doubles, at least for a while.
Copyright © february, 1987 by from Diskette Gazette