Why do good floppy disks go bad?
jplist2008 at kiwigeek.com
Wed Apr 6 15:15:52 CDT 2016
I had one of those Japanese Koan moments recently when someone asked me
"Why do floppy disks stop working?" and I realised I... didn't actually
know. I thought I'd throw it to the group and get some theories/proofs.
Let's work on the assumption we're talking about 5.25" and 3.5" disks.
- Repeated use slowly wears away the magnetic media layer on the mylar.
- When left in an unprotected state, or a poor environment, damp, mold and
dust can damage the surface, either degrading the magnetic layer or
causing the gap to shrink enough that the drive head physically damages
- Quantum fluctuations in the state of the universe, caused by millions of
mostly non-interacting particles passing through a disk in any given
minute, alter the magnetic spin of the ferric atoms causing gradual data
loss over time (mostly tongue-in-cheek)
- Given the lack of use of most floppy drives they themselves pick up
'gunk' and on first reading a diskette after a long time of disuse damage
It _seems_ like when you put a 3.5" disk down for ten years and pick it
back up, a disk that used to work fine no longer does. Of course, after
ten years, it could be your own memory that's failed.
Dare I ask, what's the consensus?
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