I got a call the other day from a company that I do

consulting for from time to time. The lady in charge of Human Resources had

lost some data that she needed recovered. It was a very important interview

with someone who was filing a sexual harassment complaint for the company and

she had gone to a remote site to perform the interview.  She used a computer onsite to type up the

interview and was bringing it back to the office.

How did she bring it back that cause her to lose data?  Drop

her laptop?  A corrupt attachment to an email? A scratched

CD-R? Maybe she accidentally poured a soda over her USB memory

stick.  Nope, none of the above.  She had lost data the old

fashioned way – by

storing it on a bad floppy disk. Fortunately, at least it was a 3.5

inch floppy

and not a 5.25.

I was prepared to have to take the disk home and maybe use

some utilities I have to revive dead sectors on floppy disks, but I didn’t have

to go to that much trouble. She had tried copying the files from Windows

Explorer, which failed when it hit the bad sector. Dropping to a command

prompt, I was able to move the file using the old COPY command. I did have to

Ignore and Retry a few times, but eventually the file moved over.  There were a few formatting issues, but she

didn’t lose any of the important parts of the interview so she was lucky.

It had been a while since I got a call about a bad floppy

disk. You don’t see them around as much as you used to.  Once upon a time, 1.44Mb seemed like acres of

space to store data on, but with today’s ever larger files, floppies just don’t

cut it. Combined with the ubiquity of writable CDs and USB memory drives at

ever falling prices, floppy drives are definitely Last Millenium.

I still have a couple of boxes of floppies at home. They’re

mostly actually old 360K 5.25’s for my Tandy 1000. Surprisingly enough, those

old floppy disks don’t go as bad you’d think even though none of them are less

than 10 years old.

I stick to the memory sticks for most portable storage things

although a CD-RW is pretty universal. It will be interesting to see what comes

out next.  In a few years, we’ll be

chuckling about the people that are still using USB drives.