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Save to Floppy to Save Hard Drive Space?

I’m running out of hard drive space, should I save some of my files to floppy disks then take them off the computer?

That’s probably a really bad idea.

OK, before you send me a nasty e-mail, let me explain. I get five or six e-mails a week from people trying to save hard drive space by keeping his/her stuff on a floppy disk (then deleting the file from the computer). This is a really bad idea for two reasons:

1. Floppy disks are NOT reliable. You’re much more likely to lose info from a floppy disk than a hard drive. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to/e-mail with who ask me how to recover lost data from a floppy disk. Data that was there has “disappeared” or become unreadable. For the most part, when that happens the information is lost forever.

2. A floppy disk only holds 1.44 meg of info. You would need almost 700 floppies to save 1 GB of information. Since most newer hard drives hold 10+ GB, you can see that saving a few files to a floppy isn’t going to save a significant amount of space.

My recommendation is if you don’t have enough hard drive space, get a second hard drive. Most newer computers support multiple hard drives, and they shouldn’t be too expensive to install (much cheaper than the purchase price of 700 floppies). In fact, if you’re comfortable with the inner workings of your computer, you can probably do it yourself (it’s takes me about 15 minutes to install a drive but about 45 minutes to dig the computer out from under my desk).

In general, only use floppies to transfer information from one computer to another or as a backup. Never put an important file on one, delete it from your hard and expect it to always be there. If you are really set on saving stuff on something other than your hard drive, try using a ZIP disk. You can get a zip drive for less than $100.00 and they are more reliable than floppies (but still not as reliable as hard drives).Of couse, a CD-R or RW drive also works great.

Finally, please don’t misunderstand me. Floppies are a good way to back-up important info – and you should always have your important info backed up some way or another . Just don’t rely on 3.5 floppies to store your data forever.

— Steve