Differences Between CDs & Floppy Disks

By Bonnie Conrad

You can store data on both a floppy disk and a CD, but they are not interchangeable. From the storage capacity of the media to the availability of the blank disks, there are a number of differences between CDs and floppies. For most uses, one format has distinct advantages over the other.

Storage Capacity

The starkest contrast between the floppy disk and the CD is how much data each can hold. A floppy disk can hold only 1.44MB, which is extremely small by modern PC standards. A CD, on the other hand, can hold up to 700MB of data, making it the better choice for large files that contain video, pictures or images.

Writing

You can write and rewrite data to a floppy drive as many times as you wish. When the disk runs out of space, you can simply erase the files it contains and replace them with new ones. On the other hand, if you use a traditional CD-R, you can write data to it only once. If you want to use the CD again and again, you need to purchase a CD-RW disk, with the "RW" standing for "rewritable."

Compatibility

One problem with floppy disks is that most computers do not come with floppy drives by default. If you need to read a floppy disk, you might need to install a USB floppy drive first. These portable floppy drives connect to a USB port on any computer, and once they are installed they can be accessed just like any other drive on the PC. On the other hand, just about every modern computer has a CD or DVD drive, and either one can read a CD.

Ease of Use

Both CDs and floppy disks are easy to use, but floppy disks are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Many computer retailers and office supply stores have stopped selling floppy disks entirely, and the number of outlets that sell them is only expected to decline more in the future. You can, however, still find floppy disks and floppy drives in use, both in homes and in businesses.