Storage

Drive a stake through floppy drives and be done with them

Floppy drives have been steadily shrinking since their 8-inch days, and this tech thinks it's time for them to disappear altogether. Is it time for floppy drives to drift off to the IT netherworld? Join the debate and let your voice be heard.


I'm in the process of putting together a custom PC for home use, which has made me question the value of certain components and whether they are worth installing on my new machine.

I'm not planning on spending more than $500 for this revamped machine because I'm reusing the old monitor, mouse, and keyboard from my ancient PC (which will have a second life on my home network as a Linux file server and Web development box).

I'm trying to get the most out of every dollar that goes into this new machine and doing pretty well, for the most part. However, there is one item that I just cannot bring myself to install, despite its relatively low $10 price tag: a 3.5-inch floppy drive.

Before I bypass the floppy drive and end up regretting it later, I want to make sure there isn’t a bona fide reason for installing one now. So I’m turning to the TechRepublic community for help: Can you persuade me to install a floppy drive?

Why crawl when you can fly?
Before I get flame-broiled in the discussion below for being such a cheap (enter your descriptive noun of choice here), let's try to keep this on a more philosophical plane.

It’s not unprecedented for me to think about leaving the floppy drive behind. I must admit that it felt weird giving up my floppy drive when I bought an iMac a few years ago, but I got over it. Basically, I just transferred everything that I wanted to keep that was on floppies onto a Zip disk, and later burned that stuff onto a CD for archival purposes.

A few of the diskettes that ended up on CD were programs that required five to 10 disk changes when I first installed them so many years ago. The last time they were installed, from disk images on the CD, it was pleasant to just sit back and watch the install without having to listen to the whirl and read/write chatter of the typical floppy drive. There was no shuffle of diskettes and no struggling to remember where I was in the process so that I could insert the correct disk.

These days, computers do everything so much faster than they did in the past. Now when I stick a diskette in my old PC, it seems to take forever to read something from it. It's like sucking my morning coffee through one of those hollow, plastic, stirring straws. I need that caffeine now!

If you can’t say something nice, then don’t do the install
The BIOS on the modern-day computer lets you change the boot disk to the CD if a system can't be found on the hard drive, so a floppy drive seems less critical than it used to be. In fact, a floppy can be a problem—a big problem in the enterprise.

If we take this argument against floppy drives out of the sphere of personal preference, wouldn’t not having a floppy drive be an absolute boon for most IT staffs?

Those pesky end users just use the floppy drives on their work machines to load stupid little programs from home so they can have screwed-up machines in both places.

When end users need to exchange files at work, instead of sneaker-netting a floppy to a coworker, users would probably find that the exchange would be quicker off a share on the network.

A floppy drive on a corporate workstation just seems to invite trouble. If it is there, the end user is just going to put something in it—software or otherwise.

Now, I'm not going to stick anything other than diskettes in my floppy drive if I put one in my new machine. But the question remains: Why would I install a floppy drive in the first place?

Join the debate!
Now it’s time for you to put your two cents worth into this discussion. Is there any point in including a floppy drive in a custom machine? What about corporate users—do they need a floppy drive? Is it time to lay floppy drive technologies to rest? Tell us what you think in the discussion below or send us a note.

 

Editor's Picks