2011 – Death of the Floppy Disk

Yes, you can still buy them here and there, but the end is near for the ol’ 3.5 inch floppy disk.

Several bloggers, such as Long Island’s own Dave Daniels at DaveDaniels.com are heralding the death of the floppy disk when, in March 2011, after 30 years, Sony will officially stop making them.

The 3.5 inch floppy isn’t happy, but it’s going to make the best of it. You can find out what the floppy disk has to say about retirement in an interview published at esarcasm.com.

The ever-popular CruchGear.com reports, briefly, on how the floppy disk has fared since its sales peaked back in 1995. Should have seen it coming when they stopped making floppy disk drives back in September 2009, but then again, who has seen a new computer with a floppy drive lately?

Beginning of the end. Back in 2005 the floppy disk drive became optional on many new computers. Rewriteable CDs (ca. 1997) and DVDs (ca. 1999) where fairly common by then, and the USB thumb or Flash drive was becoming very affordable, too.

Too little, too much. Economically the floppy disk didn’t make sense either. You would need close to 700 floppy disks at a cost of $530 to match the storage capacity of a $10 or $20 USB Flash Drive (1 GB) — which is smaller than a pack of gum. $154 worth of floppies would be needed to match a $7 Flash Drive. (Prices do vary widely for USB drives. Better drives could be purchased for the same $7 or $20.)

Longevity. On average a floppy disk had a lifespan of 9 months, if you treated it well, and didn’t use it too often. The data wouldn’t completely disappear, but some data loss would be evident on a large file.

Meanwhile I have a Flash drive I bought about 7 years ago (shown at right) which I once found at the bottom of a washing machine after a spin cycle; and it worked. Later, I forgot it was in the front of my computer when I bumped into and bent it; and it’s still working today.

7 comments

  1. Richard says:

    Hi there

    I have a now near eight year old computer, and I had paid £50 for a floppy disk drive. I don’t have any floppy disks at the moment, and rarely used the drive.

    Though having read your article, floppy disks are just for very small files or any type. And the disks are never best to be used while writing data onto them, like having a word document opened and saving onto them. Best to use the disk they were intended for storage and backup of very small files.

    I think a lot of people out ther seem to see it has have so many disks to match a 62MB USB. They aren’t for that use.

  2. Richard says:

    Hey there

    Since I’ve posted those comments, I managed to buy five Floppy disks for £2.42P from a computer repair shop by chance the person working there had them and gave me a deal as he no longer needed them, and as one other Internet cafe was selling one each for a £1, so a good deal there.

    Yes, my use for one disk is to store my small 3D model car file and some flag images for it, that I had made on the computer that I placed into a computer game to ride around in. All under 1MB, probably best to leave some free space on the disk as not to over load it.

    £50 drive, better I have a few disks or one at least to use it with time to time, or as I said an extra backup copy.

    When i inserted the disk the other day, the drive was full of dust, the irony there of not having used it in over three years, and prior to that rarely for a couple.

    Take care

    • Thanks for the update, Richard. I have piles of them, but they’re so old they’re probably full of iron sludge right now. I did buy a USB floppy drive last year, as I have some clients who still use Windows XP and need files loaded from specially formatted floppy disks.

  3. Richard says:

    Since I last posted I have a total of fifteen floppy disks. They are still working for my backups of the 3d project files I have. The shops that sold these have closed. So I believe I only have these, if one stops working then there goes that backup.

    I only need these for as long as I still own the computer I have with the disk drive.

  4. Richard says:

    Hey there.

    I’m still using the floppy disks that I have. They all are still working.

  5. Richard says:

    I still have those floppy disks!

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