Proper floppy disk storage will keep your diskettes in good condition and help extend the life of your floppy disks. The recommendations for proper storage and handling are quite straight forward and easy to follow.
First of all, when the floppy disks are not being used they should be removed from the drive and stored in their paper or Tyvek sleeve. Sleeves are used for 8 inch and 5.25 inch floppy disk formats to prevent the contamination of the disk surfaces through the openings in the protective jacket. The 3.5 inch format usually does not come with a sleeve nor does it require a sleeve since the jacket provides better protection for the disk. It is a good idea to keep the diskettes in a plastic storage box that allows the disks to be stored vertically or at least not flat. This disk storage box provides physical protection for the disks and prevents debris from coming in contact with the floppies.
Ensure Storage Area is Clean
An important aspect of floppy disk storage is to ensure the floppy storage area is clean and this applies to the use area as well. Diskettes should be handled in clean and debris free areas. No eating or drinking should occur in areas where diskettes are handled and used. If debris is present on a disk when it is read, the disk and/or magnetic heads in the drive can be damaged.
Avoid Touching Disk Surface
Never touch the floppy disk surface as this will contaminate it and lead to read errors. Restoration of the disk would require cleaning, which may irreversibly damage the floppy and lead to the loss of information.
Avoid Magnetic Fields
Magnetic fields can be problem, but usually only if a strong magnet is placed up close to the diskette.
Temperature and Relative Humidity Conditions
In terms of temperature and relative humidity for floppy disk storage, standard office type temperature and relative humidity are satisfactory. This normally results in a floppy disk lifetime of 5 to 15 years. If the floppies are stored in cooler and drier conditions then the lifetime range can increase significantly.
The health and longevity of the disk media is not the only factor that determines whether you will have access to the stored digital information into the future. Another important factor is the availability of drives to read the media. If there are no drives, then the information cannot be extracted from the media. This is certainly becoming a problem with the 8 inch floppy disk and 5.25 inch floppy disk formats. For a while now, computers do not come with these drives and the media is no longer being produced. This is also starting to occur with the 3.5 inch formats. Higher capacity formats are driving these magnetic floppy diskette formats into extinction. Another important factor is the availability of the software to interpret the stored files and the various operating systems required to run the drives.
Therefore, proper floppy disk storage is only one aspect in saving the digital information stored on the floppy media. What is the solution? One solution would be to keep the original drives, software, and computers and operating systems to run the drives in storage with the media. However, this approach will likely only work for a short period of time because the computers and/or drives will eventually fail. A better solution to preserve the information stored on a floppy disk is to transfer the information from the floppy to a more modern carrier such as a CD, DVD, or hard disk.
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