Most modern computers and laptops don't include a floppy disk drive, so how can you read floppy disks with a PC? We explain
Q I imagine that many PC users have over the years used the now-outmoded floppy disks for data storage – myself included. However, with the advent of more up-to-date storage devices, such as USB memory keys, I no longer have any use for my large pile of floppies, though they still contain some old data. Can these old disks be recycled and how can I recover the data first, given that modern computers seem to lack floppy disk drives?
Alec J Bull
A If the disks have been stored well then recovering any data they hold should be possible - you just need a drive. However, as you note, few modern PCs are fitted with a floppy disk drive. You didn’t say what size disks you have but we’ll assume that they are the 3.5in variety, with a hard plastic shell. That being the case, the easiest option would probably be to buy a 3.5in drive that can be attached via USB (the Gembird FLD, for example, costs around £14 from Amazon).
In the unlikely event that the discs are the older (properly floppy) 5.25in variety then you will probably struggle more, though second-hand internal drives will doubtless pop up on the likes of Ebay from time to time.
As for recycling, that’s a matter for you and your local authority. If your council offers plastic- and metal-recycling facilities then a 3.5in disk’s outer casing can be easily prised open to separate the recyclable components (you’ll find a magnetic disk platter with a metal spindle and a couple of metal springs, and of course the plastic shell itself). But we doubt the disk platters themselves will be recyclable, so just throw them away (cutting them up first, if you’re paranoid about someone recovering the contents).
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