What Is the Function of a Floppy Disk?

by Eri Luxton ; Updated February 09, 2017

Floppy disks have mostly been replaced by other forms of file storage such as CD/DVD-ROM drives and the common USB flash drive, but many computers can still store and access information using the older technology of the floppy disk drive.

Types

According to the University of Michigan, floppy disks have changed over time. The earliest floppy disks measured eight inches in size. Soon 5.25-inch disks replaced them, and eventually 3.5-inch floppies became the standard. Although 3.5-inch floppy disks have hard cases, the flimsy magnetic media inside remains flexible.

Function

Floppy disks store computer files in a portable package. A typical high-density 3.5-inch floppy stores 1.44 megabytes of data, according to Jonny Pham at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Today, newer file storage devices have replaced floppy disks as a major mode of transfer between computers, but sometimes users will find older files stored on floppy disks.

Usage

Users can load disks into a floppy disk drive; this will cause the metal tab to slide to the side and expose the delicate disk inside for the computer to read, according to Bowling Green State University. When dealing with old floppies, users should remember that each disk type corresponds to a different type of drive. Never place a smaller disk inside a larger drive.

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About the Author

Eri Luxton holds a B.A. in liberal arts, an M.F.A. in creative writing, a first aid certification and a biomedical ethics certificate. She has worked as an English teacher overseas and as a local volunteer in first aid and in technology troubleshooting. Luxton mentors students in chemistry and physics while studying toward a pre-health sciences degree.

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