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Obsolete, but not gone: The people who won't give up floppy disks

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article explores the continued use of floppy disks, a now-obsolete storage medium, by various individuals and industries despite the availability of more modern alternatives. It delves into the reasons why some people remain attached to floppy disks, including their creative and nostalgic appeal, as well as their continued use in certain legacy systems and applications.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Floppy Disks' Enduring Appeal

1. What are the key reasons why some people still love using floppy disks?

  • Floppy disks have a nostalgic and creative appeal for some users, such as musician Espen Kraft, who uses them to create music that evokes the 1980s sound.
  • Floppy disks are still used in certain legacy industrial and government systems around the world, such as some city transport systems and older aircraft.
  • Some users, like researchers and academics, find floppy disks reliable and efficient for their specific needs, even as late as the 2010s.
  • The physical nature of floppy disks is seen as offering some security advantages over more modern digital storage solutions.

2. What are the risks and challenges associated with continued floppy disk usage?

  • Floppy disks can become corrupted over time, especially if not stored in a dry and humidity-controlled environment.
  • As floppy disk production has ceased, there is a finite and dwindling supply of working disks available, making it increasingly difficult to replace damaged or lost disks.
  • The computer systems that can read floppy disks are also becoming more difficult to maintain as they become obsolete.

[02] Floppy Disk Preservation and Archiving

1. How are some individuals and organizations working to preserve floppy disk content?

  • Researchers like Adrian Demleitner at the University of the Arts Bern in Switzerland are actively building archives of floppy disks containing video games, save data, and other digital content from the past.
  • IT manager Karl Dyson runs a website and shop called, where he sells retro gaming equipment and offers a service to copy games from damaged or corrupted floppy disks.
  • Some users, like musician Espen Kraft, maintain backups of their most valuable floppy disk content in the cloud and on external hard drives to ensure its preservation.

2. What challenges do these preservation efforts face?

  • Acquiring floppy disks can be difficult, as the researchers often have to arrange to meet with sellers in public to obtain the disks.
  • The researchers face the "tremendous responsibility" of properly archiving and preserving the content on the floppy disks they acquire.
  • As floppy disk-based systems become increasingly rare, it becomes more challenging to access and extract the content from the disks.
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