Working With Floppy Disks in Microsoft Office


Rule #1:  Don't do it!

Floppy disks are the worst form of document storage imaginable. Here's why:

  • There appears to be a problem with a Word 2003 update on Windows 2000 PCs that causes problems for people saving to floppy drives. I'm not sure if I see this as a bad thing because it's bringing all the floppy disk users out of the woodwork. Microsoft doesn't seem to have acknowledged the problem as of today, July 23, 2005.
  • They go bad sooner than any other media. There was a time when we all KNEW that you didn't put a floppy disk anywhere near a magnet or magnetic strip (like a credit card!), but since their use is now minimal, it appears that nobody feels the need to educate people about them.
  • They only hold 1.4MB. Now you might be thinking "But, my document is only 1MB!!" However, we all know that Windows creates a temporary file from which to work. Take a 1MB file and add a 1MB temporary file, and we've exceeded the limit. Since the temp file is on your PC's memory (RAM--random access memory), you don't even realize you can't save the document with changes until you go to save it. By then, it could be too late.
  • Please don't use floppy disks! It is safer to email the file to yourself or to a Gmail account or something than it is to store it on a floppy disk.
  • If you absolutely must put your files on floppies, do NOT work from them! Instead, pull the document to your hard drive, work on it there, then copy it back to the floppy USING WINDOWS EXPLORER!

Doug Robbins, Microsoft Word MVP, commented on this article:

You forgot Rule 2

Rule 2 - See Rule 1.

One reader, D. Rahim, recommends:

"Using a memory stick/portable USB. This is what we are using in classrooms across America & in business. Those floppies are truly dead for the first time in years & have been replaced with USB.

I demand my students buy 128/256 MB memory sticks for class because they hold 10 times more. But you should remind everyone to be careful when caring for them. Always keep them 3 to 4 inches from your cell phone, credit cards, garage openers-anything with a chip- because your USB can & will demagnetize your cell phone & you'll lose all your phone numbers, passwords, etc."