What is a floppy disks

what is a floppy disks

Are Floppy Disk Drives Still In Use Today?

Dec 30,  · A floppy disk is a magnetic media and stores and reads data on the floppy disk using a read head. When a " floppy diskette is inserted into the drive, the metal slide door is opened and exposes the magnetic disk in the floppy diskette. The read/write head uses a magnetic polarity of 0 or 1. Floppy disk, or diskette, magnetic storage medium used with late 20th-century computers. Floppy disks were popular from the s until the late s, when they were supplanted by the increasing use of e-mail attachments and other means to transfer files from computer to computer. They were made of flexible plastic coated with a magnetic material and enclosed in a hard square plastic case.

By: Gary Brown. A floppy disk is floppyy lot like a cassette tape :. If you have ever used an audio cassette, you know that it has one big disadvantage -- it is a sequential device. The tape has a beginning and an end, and to move the tape to another song later in the sequence of songs on the tape you have to use the fast forward and rewind buttons to find the start of the song, since the tape heads are stationary.

For a long audio cassette tape it can take a minute or two to rewind the whole tape, making it hard to find whay song in the middle of the tape. A floppy disk, like a cassette tape, is made from a thin piece of plastic coated with a magnetic material on both sides. However, it is shaped like a disk rather than a long thin ribbon. The tracks are arranged what time is breakfast over at hardees concentric rings so that the software can jump from "file 1" to "file 19" without having to fast forward through files The ia spins like a record and the heads move to the correct track, providing what is known as direct access storage.

Electronic optics check for the presence of an opening in the lower corner of a 3. Prev NEXT. Computer Hardware. In the illustration above, you can see how the disk is divided into tracks brown and sectors yellow. Both use a thin plastic base material coated with iron oxide. This oxide is a ferromagnetic material, meaning wjat if you expose it to a magnetic field it is permanently magnetized by the field.

Both can record information instantly. Both can be erased and reused many times. Both are very inexpensive and easy to use. The heads are not directly opposite each other in an effort to prevent interaction between write operations on each of the two media surfaces. The same head is used for reading and writing, while a second, wider head is used for erasing a track just prior to it being written. This allows the data to be written on a wider "clean slate," without interfering with the analog data on an adjacent track.

Drive Motor : A very small spindle motor engages the metal what is a floppy disks at the center of the diskette, spinning it at either or rotations per minute RPM.

An external button allows the diskette to be ejected, at which point the spring-loaded protective window on the diskette closes. Circuit Board : Contains all of the electronics to handle the data read from or written to the diskette.

Click on the picture to see a brief video of a diskette being inserted. Floppy Disk Drive Terminology. Floppy disk - Also called diskette. The diskd size is 3. Floppy disk drive - The electromechanical device that reads and writes floppy disks.

Track - Concentric ring of data on a side of a disk. Sector - A subset of a track, similar to wedge or a slice of pie. Read More. Cite This! Witch hazel what does it do Citation. More Awesome Stuff.

Parts of a Floppy Disk Drive

Jun 04,  · The floppy disk is a magnetic storage device used for computer systems. It’s a flexible and thin magnetic disk encased in a square-shaped plastic. Also known as “diskette”, it uses one or two sides for recording. It’s commonly inches in size/5(4). A floppy disk, like a cassette tape, is made from a thin piece of plastic coated with a magnetic material on both sides. However, it is shaped like a disk rather than a long thin ribbon. The tracks are arranged in concentric rings so that the software can jump from "file 1" to "file 19" without having to fast forward through files Aug 11,  · Floppy disk is the earliest removable medium used in personal computers. It used to flourish for a while, and then gradually declined due to the appearance of CD, DVD, and U disk. In , IBM introduced the world's first floppy disk, which is 32 inches in diameter.

A floppy disk or floppy diskette sometimes casually referred to as a floppy or diskette is a type of disk storage composed of a thin and flexible disk of a magnetic storage medium in a square or nearly square plastic enclosure lined with a fabric that removes dust particles from the spinning disk. Floppy disks are read from and written to by a floppy disk drive FDD. The first floppy disks, invented and made by IBM, had a disk diameter of 8 inches Some individuals and organizations continue to use older equipment to read or transfer data from floppy disks.

Floppy disks were so common in late 20th-century culture that many electronic and software programs continue to use save icons that look like floppy disks well into the 21st century. While floppy disk drives still have some limited uses, especially with legacy industrial computer equipment , they have been superseded by data storage methods with much greater data storage capacity and data transfer speed , such as USB flash drives , memory cards , optical discs , and storage available through local computer networks and cloud storage.

The first commercial floppy disks, developed in the late s, were 8 inches By , there were more than 10 manufacturers producing such FDDs.

These disk drives could be added to older PC models. In , IBM introduced a drive for 2. Originally designed to be more practical than the 8-inch format, it was becoming considered too large; as the quality of recording media grew, data could be stored in a smaller area.

Generally, the term floppy disk persisted, [nb 1] even though later style floppy disks have a rigid case around an internal floppy disk.

During this time, PCs frequently came equipped with drives of both sizes. Floppy disks became commonplace during the s and s in their use with personal computers to distribute software, transfer data, and create backups. Before hard disks became affordable to the general population, [nb 2] floppy disks were often used to store a computer's operating system OS. By the early s, the increasing software size meant large packages like Windows or Adobe Photoshop required a dozen disks or more.

In , there were an estimated five billion standard floppy disks in use. External USB -based floppy disk drives are still available, and many modern systems provide firmware support for booting from such drives. In the mids, mechanically incompatible higher-density floppy disks were introduced, like the Iomega Zip disk.

Adoption was limited by the competition between proprietary formats and the need to buy expensive drives for computers where the disks would be used. In some cases, failure in market penetration was exacerbated by the release of higher-capacity versions of the drive and media being not backward-compatible with the original drives, dividing the users between new and old adopters.

Consumers were wary of making costly investments into unproven and rapidly changing technologies, so none of the technologies became the established standard.

Recordable CDs were touted as an alternative, because of the greater capacity, compatibility with existing CD-ROM drives, and—with the advent of re-writeable CDs and packet writing—a similar reusability as floppy disks. Other formats, such as Magneto-optical discs , had the flexibility of floppy disks combined with greater capacity, but remained niche due to costs.

High-capacity backward compatible floppy technologies became popular for a while and were sold as an option or even included in standard PCs, but in the long run, their use was limited to professionals and enthusiasts.

Flash-based USB-thumb drives finally were a practical and popular replacement, that supported traditional file systems and all common usage scenarios of floppy disks. As opposed to other solutions, no new drive type or special software was required that impeded adoption, since all that was necessary was an already common USB port. By , most manufacturers still provided floppy disk drives as standard equipment to meet user demand for file-transfer and an emergency boot device, as well as for the general secure feeling of having the familiar device.

Subsequently, enabled by the widespread support for USB flash drives and BIOS boot, manufacturers and retailers progressively reduced the availability of floppy disk drives as standard equipment. In February , Dell , a leading computer company at the time, announced that floppy drives would no longer be pre-installed on Dell Dimension home computers, although they were still available as a selectable option and purchasable as an aftermarket OEM add-on.

Floppy disks are used for emergency boots in aging systems lacking support for other bootable media and for BIOS updates, since most BIOS and firmware programs can still be executed from bootable floppy disks.

If BIOS updates fail or become corrupt, floppy drives can sometimes be used to perform a recovery. The music and theatre industries still use equipment requiring standard floppy disks e. Industrial automation equipment such as programmable machinery and industrial robots may not have a USB interface; data and programs are then loaded from disks, damageable in industrial environments. This equipment may not be replaced due to cost or requirement for continuous availability; existing software emulation and virtualization do not solve this problem because a customized operating system is used that has no drivers for USB devices.

Hardware floppy disk emulators can be made to interface floppy-disk controllers to a USB port that can be used for flash drives. In May , the United States Government Accountability Office released a report that covered the need to upgrade or replace legacy computer systems within federal agencies.

The government planned to update some of the technology by the end of the fiscal year. Windows 10 removed the driver for internal floppy drives, which are a different device.

External USB floppy drives continue to function. The British Airways Boeing fleet, up to its retirement in , used 3. For more than two decades, the floppy disk was the primary external writable storage device used. Most computing environments before the s were non-networked, and floppy disks were the primary means to transfer data between computers, a method known informally as sneakernet.

Unlike hard disks, floppy disks are handled and seen; even a novice user can identify a floppy disk. The floppy disk symbol is still used by software on user-interface elements related to saving files, such as the release of Microsoft Office , even though the physical floppy disks are largely obsolete, making it a skeuomorph. The medium is contained in a square plastic cover that has a small oblong opening in both sides to allow the drive's heads to read and write data and a large hole in the center to allow the magnetic medium to spin by rotating it from its middle hole.

Inside the cover are two layers of fabric with the magnetic medium sandwiched in the middle. The fabric is designed to reduce friction between the medium and the outer cover, and catch particles of debris abraded off the disk to keep them from accumulating on the heads. The cover is usually a one-part sheet, double-folded with flaps glued or spot-welded together.

Tape may be used over the notch to change the mode of the disk. Punch devices were sold to convert read-only disks to writable ones and enable writing on the unused side of single sided disks; such modified disks became known as flippy disks.

Later soft- sectored disks have only one index hole, and sector position is determined by the disk controller or low-level software from patterns marking the start of a sector.

Generally, the same drives are used to read and write both types of disks, with only the disks and controllers differing. Some operating systems using soft sectors, such as Apple DOS , do not use the index hole, and the drives designed for such systems often lack the corresponding sensor; this was mainly a hardware cost-saving measure.

Rather than having a hole in the center, it has a metal hub which mates to the spindle of the drive. Two holes at the bottom left and right indicate whether the disk is write-protected and whether it is high-density; these holes are spaced as far apart as the holes in punched A4 paper, allowing write-protected high-density floppies to be clipped into standard ring binders. The dimensions of the disk shell are not quite square: its width is slightly less than its depth, so that it is impossible to insert the disk into a drive slot sideways i.

A diagonal notch at top right ensures that the disk is inserted into the drive in the correct orientation—not upside down or label-end first—and an arrow at top left indicates direction of insertion. The drive usually has a button that, when pressed, ejects the disk with varying degrees of force, the discrepancy due to the ejection force provided by the spring of the shutter. The drive has a disk-change switch that detects when a disk is ejected or inserted.

Failure of this mechanical switch is a common source of disk corruption if a disk is changed and the drive and hence the operating system fails to notice. One of the chief usability problems of the floppy disk is its vulnerability; even inside a closed plastic housing, the disk medium is highly sensitive to dust, condensation and temperature extremes.

As with all magnetic storage , it is vulnerable to magnetic fields. Blank disks have been distributed with an extensive set of warnings, cautioning the user not to expose it to dangerous conditions. Rough treatment or removing the disk from the drive while the magnetic media is still spinning is likely to cause damage to the disk, drive head, or stored data. Earlier types of floppy disks did not have this plastic case, which protects the magnetic material from abuse and damage.

A sliding metal cover protects the delicate magnetic surface when the diskette is not in use and automatically opens when the diskette is inserted into the computer. The diskette has a square shape: there are apparently eight possible ways to insert it into the machine, only one of which is correct. What happens if I do it wrong? I try inserting the disk sideways. Ah, the designer thought of that. A little study shows that the case really isn't square: it's rectangular, so you can't insert a longer side.

I try backward. The diskette goes in only part of the way. Small protrusions, indentations, and cutouts prevent the diskette from being inserted backward or upside down: of the eight ways one might try to insert the diskette, only one is correct, and only that one will fit. An excellent design. Both read and write operations require the media to be rotating and the head to contact the disk media, an action originally accomplished by a disk-load solenoid. To write data, current is sent through a coil in the head as the media rotates.

The head's magnetic field aligns the magnetization of the particles directly below the head on the media. When the current is reversed the magnetization aligns in the opposite direction, encoding one bit of data. To read data, the magnetization of the particles in the media induce a tiny voltage in the head coil as they pass under it. This small signal is amplified and sent to the floppy disk controller , which converts the streams of pulses from the media into data, checks it for errors, and sends it to the host computer system.

A blank unformatted diskette has a coating of magnetic oxide with no magnetic order to the particles. During formatting, the magnetizations of the particles are aligned forming tracks, each broken up into sectors , enabling the controller to properly read and write data.

The tracks are concentric rings around the center, with spaces between tracks where no data is written; gaps with padding bytes are provided between the sectors and at the end of the track to allow for slight speed variations in the disk drive, and to permit better interoperability with disk drives connected to other similar systems. Each sector of data has a header that identifies the sector location on the disk. A cyclic redundancy check CRC is written into the sector headers and at the end of the user data so that the disk controller can detect potential errors.

Some errors are soft and can be resolved by automatically re-trying the read operation; other errors are permanent and the disk controller will signal a failure to the operating system if multiple attempts to read the data still fail.

This enables a smaller concave area for the thumb and fingers to grasp the disk during removal. On Apple Macintosh computers with built-in floppy drives, the ejection button is replaced by software controlling an ejection motor which only does so when the operating system no longer needs to access the drive.

The user could drag the image of the floppy drive to the trash can on the desktop to eject the disk. In the case of a power failure or drive malfunction, a loaded disk can be removed manually by inserting a straightened paper clip into a small hole at the drive's front panel, just as one would do with a CD-ROM drive in a similar situation.

Before a disk can be accessed, the drive needs to synchronize its head position with the disk tracks. In some drives, this is accomplished with a Track Zero Sensor, while for others it involves the drive head striking an immobile reference surface. In either case, the head is moved so that it is approaching track zero position of the disk. When a drive with the sensor has reached track zero, the head stops moving immediately and is correctly aligned. For a drive without the sensor, the mechanism attempts to move the head the maximum possible number of positions needed to reach track zero, knowing that once this motion is complete, the head will be positioned over track zero.

A light beam sensor detects when a punched hole in the disk is visible through the hole in the jacket. For a soft-sectored disk, there is only a single hole, which is used to locate the first sector of each track.

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