Uses for Floppy Disks
By Erik Devaney
Updated February 10, 2017
A floppy disk, also known as a diskette, is a flexible, magnetic disk of metal encased in a hard, flat piece of plastic. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was the premier device for storing and loading computer data. While compact discs (CDs) and universal serial bus drive (USB) devices went on to replace the disks extensively in the 2000s, there are still several uses for floppy disks today: some of which are fun and some of which are functional.
Many computer systems today still rely on floppy disks for programming, which enables them to successfully complete the tasks they perform. For example, according to the BBC, many ATM machines receive their programming, or “orders,” from floppy disks, as do a large portion of computer numerical control (CNC) machines. Workers use these machines primarily in the metalworking industry. There are also specialized, high-end embroidery sewing machines, which rely on floppy disks for programming.
You can still use a floppy disk to store computer data, such as documents and images. However, you will have to make sure your computer has a floppy-disk drive, which some modern computers, especially laptops, do not. Some businesses still use the old technology for making backups of data; however, according to PC Guide, this is not necessarily a wise practice. Floppy disks are better suited for transferring data and short-term data storage, such as when you take a file from one computer and load it on to another. This is because they are prone to malfunctions, and cannot hold as much data as newer storage technologies, such as USB devices and CDs.
The aviation industry still relies heavily on floppy disks, primarily for updating systems. These applications include the monthly updating of navigation databases to the navigational systems of particular aircraft and the updating of firmware, or permanent software, on airline ticket-printing machines.
Arts and Crafts
Floppy disks are a popular medium and building material for pieces of art, specifically those that have a retro style. For example, some artists glue the disks to a flat piece of board, and use them as painting canvases, while others chain the floppy disks together with metal clips to create curtains and clothing. The availability of floppy disks in different colors makes them especially well suited for arts and crafts.
The size and thickness of floppy disks makes them perfect for using as coasters. To generate that retro ambiance, try placing some out on the table the next time you have company, and encourage guests to rest their drinks on them. In addition to being visually intriguing, the floppy disks will protect your table from unsightly water rings.
Erik Devaney is a writing professional specializing in health and science topics. His work has been featured on various websites. Devaney attended McGill University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in humanistic studies.