In the earliest days of digital photography, many of us placed our precious scanned photos onto plastic disks called floppy disks. At the time, floppy disks were one of the only ways to reliably transfer files from one computer to another. There were no WiFi signals or flash thumb drives to help you out back then! Many people have memories of these disks from their days in school, or at home transferring homework or fresh photo scanning projects onto them. Every so often, someone finds an old floppy disk laying around, and probably is wondering… What’s on this thing and how to I transfer floppy disks to my computer?
In order to see the data on a floppy disk, you’ll first need to determine what type of floppy disk it is. Floppy disks went through three stages, the first being the gigantic 8″ floppy disks. Eventually, technology progressed to the point where they were reduced down to a modest 3.5 inch size, and were actually rigid and no longer floppy. For the 3.5 inch versions, they soon became known as diskettes and were capable of holding about 1.44mb of data, which back then was a pretty decent amount of storage space.
If you have the 3.5 inch variety, transferring data off of them is actually pretty simple, especially if you have a floppy drive installed with your computer. However, computers these days rarely come with floppy drives anymore, as they’ve been replaced by SD cards and USB drives. If you don’t have a floppy drive built into your computer, you are not out of luck. If your computer supports USB, there are several cheap USB powered floppy drives for sale under major retailers such as Amazon.com. Using one of these should handle the job nicely, and allow you to then transfer your old data to a more modern format like DVD or to an external USB drive.
If still have the older 8 inch or 5.25 inch floppy disks, things get a bit more complicated. If you’re technically inclined, there are some devices out there that will allow you to sill pull data off of these disks, however, we recommend that you take them to a data recovery center, because at this point they are 25-30 years old!