Having lived through the 90’s, I regret to inform you all that floppy disks are coming back. I wouldn’t so much call this a comeback. I would call it a micro-novelty among people who have forgotten the horrors of using them. That or people too young to have experienced needing to use them in any serious capacity. This weeks blog post goes out to every grade school teacher I’ve ever tried to pull the “I finished the paper, but the disk it was on is corrupt” line on. It’s also dedicated to a close friend of mine and label co-owner who’s dipping their toe in the pool. The same friend who me a pencil case with a multi-part RAR archive split over twenty-some-odd disks. Without a doubt, the third to last one was unreadable. Let’s begin.
The Floppy Disk Resurgence
Rolling Stone, the CBC, and others have reported, floppy disks are coming back! Sort of. While it is true that the number of floppy disks selling is increasing, it’s a microscopic market. For the past few years, roughly 170 floppy disks have sold per year. In comparison, roughly 20,000 vinyl records sell per day here. That’s definitely a selling point for some. This is especially true if you’re the type that’s looking for something unique to collect. It would seem that it’s the time to get materials & functioning floppy disk drives before they dry up. That or the floppy resurgence will be a footnote in quirky music format history.
In Defense of the Floppy Disk
Defending modern floppy disk releases is much the same argument for defending cassettes. Cassette tapes can hold two hours of recorded sound. Floppy disks have a little less than 1.4 megabytes of data. This is room for roughly thirty seconds of a 320kbps MP3. That or hours using obscure file compression techniques. I thought floppy disks were cheap. A cursory search shows they cost roughly a dollar each in bulk. This is a little bit less than twice the cost of bulk C30 cassettes from NAC. If you want to play these things, you’ll need to do some homework as Windows 10 no longer support floppy disk drives. Not a problem, there are still external floppy drives with drivers that run on modern systems. Mac fortunately, seems to still have some limited support.
To me, the biggest killer is that the longevity of this medium is fleeting at best. I recently went through the effort of trying to preserve what’s left of my childhood. I bought a Kryoflux and was only able to archive about half of the disks I owned. I have high hopes that these new disk releases have a better chance of surviving than mine did. Magnetic media has a habit of not doing so great. If you do have old floppies, consider donating them to someone who can get them saved before it’s too late. New releases? Enjoy them while you can. Until next time, tell me how wrong I am down below.
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