Ubiquitous in early computing from 1970 until the early 2000s, the floppy disk is a portable storage device that has since been replaced by more efficient methods, such as USB flash drives, SD cards, and cloud storage. Floppy disks were an affordable and flexible alternative to hard disks, meaning users could accumulate numerous floppy disks for storing and organizing data before spending as much money on a hard disk.
In this definition...
History of floppy disks
Floppy disks were developed by IBM in the early 1970s as a way of maintaining data even when a computer was powered off. Once they became widely accessible in the late 1970s and 1980s, floppy disks became the primary storage method for most computing devices. Although hard disks could hold a larger capacity, they were fixed to the larger computing device and usually considerably more expensive. (The average floppy disk costed less than $10 in the 1970s and 1980s, whereas a hard disk could cost upwards of $1,000.) As such, floppy disks were the most practical storage choice during the rise of personal computers in the 1980s and 1990s.
When computer manufacturers like Dell and Apple stopped incorporating floppy disk drives in their equipment, CD-ROMs, thumb drives, and similar dynamic, portable storage devices took center stage in the early 2000s. Today, floppy disks are largely obsolete but are still referenced as icons for “save” commands in applications like Microsoft Office.
Types of floppy disks
Throughout their history, floppy disks have been available in a range of different sizes:
- 8-inch: The first floppy disk design was used in the early 1970s as first a read-only format and then as a read-write format. Its “floppy” physicality is what gave the entire class of disks its name.
- 5-inch: This disk fit the common size for PCs made before 1987 and succeeded the 8-inch floppy disk. This type of floppy was generally capable of storing between 100K and 1.2MB (megabytes) of data. The most common sizes were 360K and 1.2MB.
- 3-inch: Although the compact design and rigid plastic envelope meant the smallest floppy disks were no longer physically floppy, they held a larger storage capacity than other floppy disks from 400K to 1.4MB of data.
Floppy disk recovery software
There are several ways to lose data from a floppy disk, including any damage to the floppy disk itself, a reformatting mistake, a system crash, or software failure. More recently, therefore, it’s essential to find a suitable data recovery software available in the market that can restore lost or damaged data from a floppy disk.
As a leading data recovery software for Windows, BadCopy Pro supports the recovery of files from floppy disks, CDs, DVDs, flash drives, SD cards, and USB drives. It rewrites the recovered data to a new folder that the user specifies instead of writing to the same original disks and can retrieve file types such as documents, videos, images, and more. BadCopy Pro helps the user with recovery of inaccessible, deleted, formatted, damaged, and unreadable files.
Restoration is a free data recovery software for Windows that can retrieve files from drives based on NTFS (New Technology File Systems) or FAT (File Allocation Table) file systems. By using Restoration, users can search for lost files with their file name or file extension. However, sometimes users will need to find and restore files one by one.
Restoration is portable in nature, and users can run it from any device like a USB drive, floppy disk, and more without installing the software onto their system.
Recoverit is a data recovery software that supports a wide range of storage devices including, USB drives, SD cards, floppy disks, and more. It also supports PCs, including Apple’s Mac T2 and M1 chips, and file types, like documents, images, videos, audio files, emails, and more.
Recoverit can retrieve data that is lost due to formatting, accidental deletion, viruses, and crashes. The data recovery process is simple; it scans the disk and provides the preview of the recovered files, and users can choose the file they want.
As a free data recovery application, Disk Drill restores the lost files from any storage device based on NTFS (NT File System), FAT, HFS (Hierarchical File System), and APFS (Apple File System), as well as EXT (Extended File Systems) file systems like SSDs, digital cameras, floppy disks, SD, and CF cards. Disk Drill supports most versions of Windows and macOS and helps to recover formatted, deleted, corrupted, lost, and virus-infected files for any type of file format including video, images, documents, and more..
SoftPerfect File Recovery
SoftPerfect File Recovery can recover up to 2GB of data with its available free version for basic versions of Windows and macOS. Like Recoverit, SoftPerfect File Recovery supports multiple storage devices, including PCs and laptops. It’s lightweight, portable, and works with NTFS and FAT file systems. The paid version of SoftPerfect File Recovery supports the Pro versions of Windows and macOS.
Tokiwa DataRecovery Portable
Tokiwa DataRecovery Portable is a free and portable data recovery application that allows users to retrieve accidentally deleted data. It is recommended that users run this software soon after deleting data from the system. The more the system is used after the deletion of files, the less of a chance there is to retrieve the data with Tokiwa DataRecovery Portable. It supports NTFS, FAT, and EFS (Encrypting File System) file systems and is compatible with Windows.
Originally published in 1996, this definition was reviewed and updated by Siji Roy in January 2022.