MadSci Network: Computer Science

Subject: Protecting computers/diskettes in humid conditions?

Date: Tue Jan 28 10:32:09 1997
Posted by: Percy van Kanten
Grade level: nonaligned
School/Organization: No school entered.
City: Paramaribo State/Province: No state entered.
Country: Suriname
Area of science: Computer Science
Message ID: 854469129.Cs
Protecting computers/diskettes in humid conditions?
I live in Suriname, on the northern coast of South America. In
our humid tropic climate, (temperature between 21 and 31
degree centigrade, relative humidity from 80% up to 95%), the
quality of diskettes and other ferromagnetic recording media
deteriorates fast.

Usually the first problem to occur is that of fungi, covering
the diskette surface. The second problem is that of corrosion.
These two problems render diskettes unreadable.

A secondary problem is that when attempting to use affected
diskettes, the build up of contaminants on the drive heads
will scratch the surface of the diskettes. This dirt build-up
is difficult to remove and normal cleaning diskettes may not
suffice. The difficulty is that you can not always see that diskettes
are bad and you only notice it when the drive fails to read
from it and by that time is already contaminated.

Keeping the diskettes in a dry place, like in an air-
conditioned room tends to reduce the problem, but is not
always possible. People I know have tried cabinets with
heating elements to keep their diskettes in, but this did not
always solve the problem. The best, but very unpractical,
protective measure is to keep diskettes in a closed jar with

Once the diskettes have been contaminated it sometimes helps
to wipe them of with a soft cloth and 90% alcohol, although
this is a tedious job and further damaging of the diskettes
can easily occur if you rub to hard. The advantage of alcohol 
is that it evaporates almost completely. Other cleaning substances 
might leave behind residues and/or might be aggressive.

I am sure that you must me familiar with these problems, as
these climatic circumstances are not unique for our country.

My questions are:

- What would you recommend for storage of diskettes (other than
- Would there be any treatment available to protect diskettes
form deteriorating? A fungicide spray or anti-oxidant perhaps?
- How would I best treat the diskettes to recover from both
problems? Could you for instance advise on an alternative for alcohol?
Any chemical substance you know to wipe the diskettes clean
which takes away fungi and dirt without damaging the diskette-
- Is there pehaps a possibility of chemical reduction of the

- How should I best clean drive heads from the build-up?

As I myself, and people I know literally have hundreds of
diskettes, some with very important information that can not
be used, I would be very grateful for your help.

Thank you in advance.

Percy van Kanten

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