floppy : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary


Floppy disks (sometimes called stiffies, diskettes, floppies or floppy diskettes) were once used for transporting data and programs between computers, often through the mail. When you buy small software programs, they often came come on a few floppy disks. However, large programs like Windows, Microsoft Office or Adobe PageMaker would take far too many floppies to be practical, so they came on CD-ROM (Compact Disc — Read Only Memory) or DVD (Digital Video Disc). The floppy disk is the 3½" object you insert into the floppy drive to read it or write on it. The word floppy by itself is ambiguous; it might mean a floppy diskette or a floppy drive. Modern 3½" high density floppy diskettes contain 1.44 MB. The older double density 3½" diskettes are missing the hole in the bottom right corner of the casing and hold half as much data at 720KB. People in South Africa call the 3½" diskettes stiffies since the plastic case is quite rigid. However, the diskettes contain a flexible magnetic cookie inside that spins. The obsolete flexible 5¼" diskettes also came in two sizes, high density AT (Advanced Technology) diskettes at 1.2MB and double density diskettes with one third the capacity at 360KB. These two are hard to tell apart. The 1.2 MB usually do not have a hub reinforcing ring, while the 360KB do.

Floppies, due to their ancient origins, have a strange limitation. They can hold at most 75 files in the root directory, even when there is plenty of space for the files themselves. So you must create one or more subdirectories on floppy if you have more than 75 files and put your files in them. Otherwise, you will get mysterious extended error 112 or out of disk space messages

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