Why the floppy disk is still used today

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in hardware on (#Q32V)
story imageWhen was the last time that you used a floppy disk? While the average user might not, there are those out there who can’t settle for anything else. “In the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of industrial machines were built around floppy disks, which were high-tech of the time. They were built to last fifty years.” But floppy disks were not. Replacing the machines would seem the logical option, but many of them are too valuable to scrap, or can’t be easily replaced by a modern equivalent. ATMs, and some aviation tech are prime examples of devices that still have a need for data introduced through a floppy drive.

Last year, a broadcast of 60 Minutes surprised many viewers with the discovery that 8-inch floppy disks were still the preferred method of removable storage for the computers in a U.S. Air Force nuclear silo. The security of this outmoded technology was difficult to replicate with modern materials. “The floppy disks and associated technology are tried and true,” I was told. “As you can imagine, we want to ensure the utmost in reliability and efficacy when operating such a critical weapon system. Therefore, if a system is ‘old,’ but still reliable, we are inclined to use it." When it comes to mission-critical hardware that literally controls a potential nuclear holocaust, “tried and true” carries more weight than “new and improved.”

There are many niche reasons that an organization or an individual would continue to use floppy disks in 2015, but the audience isn’t large enough to make production of new disks a winning proposition. There’s a finite amount of floppy disks in the world, and that puts a limit on their usage out in the wild.

Re: Floppy disks more secure? (Score: 1)

by tanuki64@pipedot.org on 2015-10-11 15:34 (#Q56V)

I assume they're talking about sneakernet, in general, being more secure than any kind of live data connection. The critical system can be completely isolated.
Critical systems can also be completely isolated when thumb dives are used.
Punch-cards may have too-little capacity to be practical
According to Google such an 8" floppy has a capacity of 80kb to 1024kb. Punch tapes should in theory have an unlimited capacity.
The disks also have a built-in protection against portable-storage attacks like Stuxnet,
Sounds convincing... at first glance. But it is not that they downgraded their modern technology with 8" floppies after Stuxnet. If this really was the reason to keep the old tech, for the first time people had a foresight, which I would call superhuman. The 5 1/4" disks came out 1978. They were more stable and convenient than the 8" disk. 1982 the even more stable 3-1/2" disk was introduced. What kept them from using those? Do you really think that 1982 someone was able to anticipate Stuxnet?
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