Floppy disks are a type of computer data storage medium that predates compact discs and DVDs. Floppy disks come in several sizes; early disks measured 8 or 5 1/4 inches while the most common floppy disks seen today are 3.5-inch disks. Floppy disks have low data storage capacity making them unsuitable for many modern applications such as storing music, videos and high-resolution photos. Despite their shortcomings, floppy disks have several notable advantages.
One of the main advantages of floppy disks is that they are relatively small and portable. 3.5-inch floppy disks are smaller than CDs and do not need to be placed in a case for transport. The outside of a floppy disk is a plastic casing that protects the disk inside. Since the disk inside a floppy is always enclosed by the casing, the chance of scratching the disk is lower than with CDs and DVDs. Floppy disks also have built-in write protection that can help prevent data from being erased or overwritten by accident. Their portability makes them useful for transferring small files like documents from one computer to another.
Another advantage of floppy disks is that they are often compatible with older computers that may not accept other data storage devices. For instance, a computer made in the early 1990s might not have a CD or DVD drive at all, leaving floppy disks as the only viable data storage devices to transfer files off the computer. Floppy disk drives are being phased out of modern PCs but many newer PCs have floppy drives, and computer manufacturers may offer floppy drives as an option when building a custom made PC.
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Floppy disk drives are often set above the main hard drives in the boot order sequence. The boot sequence is the order in which a computer attempts to boot to an operating system. If devices high up in the boot order such as a floppy drive or CD drive do not contain a boot program, the system will go on to the next device in the boot list. Floppy disks can be turned into boot disks by loading saving an appropriate boot program to the disk. Booting from a disk rather than the operating system on your hard drive allows for a variety of tasks such as checking memory for errors and troubleshooting other system errors.