In praise of floppies

Behold the floppy, a miracle of post-modern technology! Does your computer still have a floppy drive? Count yourself among the lucky!

This is just one kind of floppy.

This is a floppy.

Why? Thousands of reasons! Do you have an ultralight lifestyle? Are you a maximalist? Are your computing needs sufficiently sparse to fit your entire home directory into less than a megabyte and a half?

If so, then you too can use floppies to back up your personal files! And if you are daring, you could even run your entire system with a floppy as the home directory. Yank that floppy out, and bingo! your precious data are safe and secure!

Even better, with two machines with floppy drives, you can synchronize systems in a fraction of the time it takes to string cables, set up network interfaces, configure wireless keys, install a networking protocol, configure a server and client, get them handshaking, manage groups and permissions, and then synchronize. Floppies save you time!

Floppies are cheap! Chances are, someone will give you a floppy — how many times has someone given you a USB drive that didn’t include some sort of blatant advertisement, or preinstalled crapware? No crapware on floppies!

And floppies are versatile too! You’re not limited to using an out-of-date, obsolete, archaic filesystem with floppies. You can use ext2, ext3, ext4 and even the newest, coolest filesystems on the block! Don’t want journaling? With floppies, you can skip journaling altogether!

Floppies are disposable, and sometimes even recyclable! Tired of your floppy? Make a clone of your floppy, and move it to a new one in seconds! You can decorate a floppy with colored markers! You can slather it with stickers — but not the puffy ones! :lol:

Floppies are available in thousands of colors, dozens of styles and themes. If you’re lucky, you may even find — gasp! — the holy grail of floppies: the transparent floppy! :shock:

Floppies are universal! You don’t need a proprietary interface or a conversion cable or a rubberized palm guard to use a floppy. Do you have a floppy drive? Congratulations: You can use floppies!

Are you a Linux guru? Do you want to be a Linux guru? You’ll dazzle them at your Linux guru job interview by mentioning that you always install grub to a floppy, so your computer is unbootable without it. It’s like a primitive boot lock!

And don’t forget, you can still install one of the greatest operating systems in the world … with only floppies! That’s right, you can get your system online and surfing the Web with only a few floppies and an hour or two of time. It’s magic!

Yes, there’s still plenty of use for floppies. Don’t let angst-ridden teenage geek wannabes and turtlenecked pseudo-minimalist artsy-snob-types tell you otherwise: If you’re not using floppies, you’re just not cool! :P

Paid for by the Committee to Re-Elect Floppies.

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24 Responses to “In praise of floppies”

  1. 1 leo_rockway 2010/09/30 at 11:04 AM

    I remember the first time I installed GNU/Linux (it was Slackware 7.1) I put LILO on a floppy, but my computer wasn’t unbootable without it. I just used a floppy so my family could use Redmon OS without even noticing that something else was in the harddrive. Meanwhile, I’d sneakily put in my floppy and boot from it to enjoy tinkering with my beloved GNU/Linux.

  2. 2 imgx64 2010/09/30 at 11:47 AM

    I would’ve agreed with you if I didn’t lose hours and hours of work because the floppy I saved my work on and the backup floppy both died, at the same time, many times. Floppies are the most fragile storage media I’ve ever dealt with, you can corrupt their data by just staring at them.

  3. 6 peterix 2010/09/30 at 12:13 PM

    true that. Up to the point where I consider them to be a one-use kind of thing. Save data, put it into a second machine, pray that it will work…

    Or maybe my floppies are just too aged to work right :(

  4. 7 JakeT 2010/09/30 at 2:05 PM

    I wonder if it isn’t the drives that are bad–b/c they’re so rarely used, they’ve got to be dusty and nasty inside, which is why I never count on a floppy disk to work.

    Then again, I haven’t consistenly used floppies for 15 years, so I I can’t say that for sure.

  5. 8 bpalone 2010/09/30 at 2:53 PM

    I just installed a motherboard that allowed me use my dual 3.5/5.25 floppy drive again. Still have some stuff on some 5.25 disks. If floppies are treated correctly, I have found them to be pretty reliable.

    I even remember cutting notches on the other side of 5.25 disks to use the other side for storage. Then came the dual head drives, so you didn’t have to do that.

    But, you didn’t even think of laying a disk next to a power cord. That low level magnetic field might wipe you out. Oh… the good ole days. At least in our memories, that is if we haven’t ran a magnet around our heads.

  6. 9 lo0m 2010/09/30 at 3:04 PM

    hahahaaa :-)) .. now, this is too much for me.. “Yank that floppy out, and bingo! your precious data are safe and secure!” .. i remember completely different scenario :-) .. but yeah, on some of my machines floppy is the only way to transfer anything, so I still have to use them sometimes…

  7. 10 Ninad 2010/09/30 at 6:31 PM

    Aha!!!!!!!! Floppies Yes they re still useful. I have a Dell C600 PIII 256mb RAM with conked CD rom drive. It does not support booting from usb. Here comes Plop( to the rescue. This was 6 months back.
    Luckily I had an old used floppy box with 6-7 old floppies all with something related to linux. I was sure none of the floppies would work as they were lying around eating dust for the last few years.
    I tried all the linux related ones and gave up hope. I decided to buy a new floppy box. I was disheartened to find no shop near my place stocked floppies as they were obsolete.
    I gave a break to this venture for a day and retried one of the old floppies. Lo and behold I could boot and now am running Arch and Puppy on this laptop.
    Floppies go back to the old days when dial-up was the only internet available and CD’s were expensive.
    I had started my expedition into linux with mulinux(
    tomsrtbt (
    and I use to boot slackware and knoppix from a floppy when BIOS did not support CD boot

    The only grudge I have with floppies is that (and i agree with imgx64) is that the floppies got corrupted very fast even shifting them from 1 table to another

  8. 11 Aaron Toponce 2010/09/30 at 9:21 PM

    I remember taking some computer programming classes at my local university not 5-6 years ago. Back then, I still didn’t own a single computer with a floppy drive. Yet, my professor wanted me to turn in my source code and compiled binary on floppy disks.

    I remember explaining to him that I didn’t own a floppy drive, and he told me that was what I was paying a separate lab fee for. $15 per semester to get access to floppy drives.

    I ended up with a C in the class, because I wouldn’t compromise. I emailed my source code and binary to him instead, and he always docked me for it. But, a C is passing, and that was all I needed.

  9. 12 poss 2010/09/30 at 10:52 PM

    I’ll use this space to spruik the trusty IBM thinkpad again. My T23 I can swap out the cd/dvd drive for the floppy in a matter of seconds if i need to. The flip side of this is I hardly use either and i could easy get around having just usb, though the reason i love this blog is the quaint reminder that the old stuff still has a use sometime… good work kmandla. I reckon i might take up the compact flash idea soon.

  10. 13 Debianero 2010/10/01 at 2:38 AM

    Just for fun sake I still use floppies and even iOmega’s zips.

  11. 14 67GTA 2010/10/01 at 2:51 AM

    I saved an older Dell Optiplex GX270 a few weeks ago for a friend with a floppy. His BIOS was corrupted. His CD drive was out, so I downloaded a BIOS update and put it on one of the few floppies gathering dust on my PC desk.

  12. 15 Barista Uno 2010/10/01 at 3:09 AM

    The article should have mentioned the sound of a floppy when it’s running. You never hear that kind of sound anymore in today’s computing world.

  13. 16 Cian 2010/10/01 at 6:03 AM

    God floppies are something I do not miss. I corrupted a 5″ once just putting it into the drive. Damn thing bent. And swapping floppy drives when you were copying disks, or whatever you loaded was bigger than a single disc, was just tedious.

    You keep this up you’ll start reminiscing about tape decks. I can still hear the sound that my ZX81 used to make as it loaded a program…

  14. 17 Foz 2010/10/01 at 6:22 AM

    Ah! I had a 120mb Super Floppy (LS120)! Pity they never took off… :(

  15. 19 mulenmar 2010/10/01 at 8:09 AM

    The 3.5″ discs weren’t exactly “floppy”. :)

    I still have 6 “floppy”-storage drawers mostly-full of them though, and two small collections of 5.25″s. :O

  16. 20 NOYB 2010/10/05 at 1:55 PM

    Another use for floppy? Kolobri OS. Download from and be amazed. It all fits on one floppy and is graphical.

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