Guide to the 3 Best 3.5 Inch External USB Floppy Drives 2023 (2023)

Got a box of old floppy disks? They might contain old documents, pictures from an early digital camera, or maybe even some classic games you'd like to run on the emulator. Believe it or not, it wasn't that long ago that floppy disks were considered the best way to store data. In fact, less than five years ago new desktop computers were still being sold with floppy drives. Some industries still use expensive specialized equipment that uses floppy disks, so there must be a way to access the data.

How can you access information on a floppy disk? You could try getting an old computer, although then you would have an old operating system that limits access to modern software. You can also find internal drives for your desktop computer, but they are not very portable. It's probably best to find an external USB floppy drive. These are readily available from a variety of manufacturers, so you can go down memory lane and access your old data for less than the cost of a hamburger and a beer.

Unfortunately, not all USB floppy drives are created equal. 3.5 inch floppy disks have been on the market for a very long time and have been used for a wide variety of purposes. Depending on how you will use yours, different drives may be better or worse for these purposes. We dug up and tested several floppy drives. Today we will analyze the results of the first three and help you choose the one that best suits your needs.

Dainty Ekstern USB 1,44MB 2x Floppy Disk Drive

Dainty's slogan is "connect differently" and it shows when you see their product line. They primarily focus on cables, adapters and converters that allow you to access information stored on almost any storage device. What sets them apart from the competition is that they tend to modernize older hardware, and this is also evident with external USB floppy drives. It might not seem like there's much you can do to bring the trusty old floppy into the 21st century, but Dainty has somehow managed to do it.

Guide to the 3 Best 3.5 Inch External USB Floppy Drives 2023 (1)

To design

SA nice external USB floppy drive, portability is key. The disk is barely larger than a floppy disk and is one of the thinnest drives on the market. It is made of very light, durable plastic that can easily be thrown into a bag or carried without discomfort. The cable is fixed, so you don't have to worry about losing it. The case is very minimalist and has a flat black look with the exception of the stylized Dainty logo on top of the drive. Along the front you have an eject button that retracts into the front of the disc drive when no disc is inserted, but is easy but firm to press when you need to eject a disc. You also have a green access light to show you when the drive is in use.

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We never thought we'd see a high-performance floppy drive, but it seems Dainty has nailed it. This drive is rated 2x, allowing read speeds of 1 Mbps on a 1.44 MB drive. In reality, this results in the ability to copy a completely full disc in about 10 seconds. This may seem slow compared to modern disk drives, but it's incredibly fast when you consider floppy disks.

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This drive is designed to work with all versions of OSX on any Intel-based Mac. On Windows devices, it will support Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10. It is completely plug and play with all these operating systems, so you don't need to install additional drivers. However, it is not suitable for use with older operating systems, which limits its use as a replacement for a broken drive on an older desktop computer.

RAAYOO 3.5” USB external disk drive

This company offers a wide range of external computer equipment, generally designed for the professional market. This means they are compatible with a wide range of computer hardware and built to be rock solid. If you're in the market for something a little unusual like a portable USBvoice recorderor VGA to composite converter, RAAYOO will probably be one of your first choices.

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(Video) Best External Optical Drives of 2023

To design

TheRAAYOO external diskette driveit's only slightly larger than others on the market, but still retains its portable design. It has a very high-quality case, which means you'll be able to bend, squeeze and generally twist this drive without risking damage to the fragile internals. The quality of the construction is particularly evident in the drive mechanism. The sliders in it respond with a solid "clunk", and both the ejector button and the power door feel tight and solid. While it's almost completely plain in design, there's only a slight gray accent on the door flap and the eject button that sets it apart from the competition.

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The read and write speed of this drive is exactly the same as other standard USB floppy drives. Depending on the density of your drive, the speed may change. With a standard 1.44 MB disk you will be able to read and write at an average speed of 500 Kbps. For older standard density floppy disks, the speed will be around 250 Kbps. This means that a typical full drive copy will take about 20 seconds, although you can expect the speed to be slightly slower with software that performs both read and write operations, since the drive head will take a while to swap. On average, the latency for this change is about 100 Msec or 1/10 of a second.

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Designed for professional use, this drive is compatible with a wider range of computers than any other on the market, with one odd exception. For PCs you can use Windows 98, 98SE, 2000, XP, ME, 7, 8 and 10. For Macs it is compatible with all versions of OSX on Intel and PPC computers. For some strange reason it won't work with Retina Macbooks from 2015 or later.

In terms of discs, this drive is also much more compatible than the competition. It supports high-density drives, known as 2HD, and low-density drives, known as DD. 2HD discs can store up to 1.44 MB, while DD discs can store 720 KB. It is also capable of directly accessing up to 80 sectors, so any disk formatted with an outdated partition table can be accessed using the correct software. This isn't something you normally encounter, but it's necessary if you're using emulators with classic games or some early MIDI programs used on Casio keyboards.

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Another great feature is its ability to be used as a boot drive. Some older computers cannot boot from large memory cards, making a USB floppy drive one of your best options.

Chuanganzhuo 3.5” USB External Floppy Drive

TheChuanganzhuo USB External Floppy Driveis both affordable and simple. It has everything you need in a basic floppy drive, without any unnecessary add-ons or accessories.

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To design

The design is similar to the RAAYOO, only slightly larger than some other floppy drives on the market. It has a nice long cable so you can plug it in externally if you feel the need. It feels pretty light, much more so than any other drive we've tested. Overall, the design is simple and functional, offering you everything you could want from an external floppy drive.

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Although the manufacturer advertises compatibility with the USB 2.0 standard, we found that this has no effect on performance. It will still work with any USB-equipped computer, but performance will be the standard 500Kbps you'd expect from any other floppy drive.

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Something worth noting is that the long USB cable used has the potential to introduce errors into the data. The manufacturer solved it in two ways. First, the cable has a magnetic filter to reduce noise. Second, data is transferred at a higher speed. The only downside to this is that you have to make sure the drive is getting all the power it needs. This means it may not work on a USB hub that has many high powered devices. But as long as you plug it directly into your computer, you probably won't have any problems.

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This drive works with any computer from Windows 98 and up, and also with Mac. It's also plug-and-play compatible, meaning it works both in safe mode and as a bootable device if needed. It can work with any disk size, from DD (720 Kb) to HD. (1.44Mb) Unfortunately, it cannot be used with the special formats you may encounter.

So, which external USB floppy drive should I get?

Although these three external disk drives represent the best on the market, each is suitable for different applications. Depending on how you intend to use your drive, you may want to choose a different model.

If you have a large pile of old drives and want to back up your data, it's probably a smart idea to stock upA good external floppy drive. This drive can read discs twice as fast as competing models, so you'll be able to back up all your data in no time. Floppy disks degrade over time, so it's probably a good idea to start backing them up now to prevent data loss in the future.

Alternatively, you may be looking for a floppy drive to repair some old computers. In this case,RAAYOO external diskette drivewill provide you with everything you need. The main reason why you would want to choose this one is its compatibility. It will work with more computers than any other drive on the market, and can also be used as a bootable USB device if possible. Many of these old computers can't boot from a CD, and their bootable media is just a floppy image, making this model the obvious choice.

(Video) Why did I buy a USB floppy drive?

Want to play some old games or access floppy disks for specialized purposes? Again, RAAYOO is your best bet. It is the only software option that will access non-standard formatted drives on a sector-by-sector basis, making it compatible with any software that reads drives directly.

Finally, maybe you're looking for a floppy drive to spruce up your old PC or Mac? YesChuanganzhuo external disk driveis perfect for this type of application and its plug and play compatibility will allow it to run instantly on any Windows PC.


Does Windows 11 support USB floppy drives? ›

As some users have pointed out, ancient floppy disks are still supported on Windows 11, including the 5.25” floppy disks. If you have an ancient floppy disk, you can still connect it to a Windows 11 device and it will be recognized by the OS.

Are 3.5 floppy disks still manufactured? ›

Although the last major manufacturer, Sony, stopped making floppy disks in 2011, there's still some tech that relies on the remaining supply, per Wired.

What can I do with old 3.5 floppy disks? ›

How to dispose of old 3.5" floppy disks? Answer: Floppy disks can be disposed of with your regular trash.

How long do 3.5 floppy disks last? ›

Floppy disks were never very reliable, and some didn't even work correctly right out of the package. Some manufacturers claimed the lifespan of floppy disks was three to five years, while others said they could last ten to twenty years.

Why won t Windows 11 recognize USB? ›

Outdated, missing, and problematic USB drivers also cause the flash drive not to show up. To fix it, update the USB drivers. Device drivers can be updated manually through the Device Manager built-in Windows utility, manufacturer website, or via optional updates (Windows Update).

How big of a USB drive do I need for Windows 11? ›

Most USB drives with at least 8GB of space should work for installation, and the Media Creation utility on the Windows website will format the Windows 11 boot USB for you. If you can't get the drive to work, it may be defective, not formatted correctly, or have a physical issue that prevents you from using it.

What is the most popular floppy disk size? ›

IBM first introduced it as a 8-in diskette in 1971. In the middle of 1970s, a 5.25 diskette was introduced. Today, the most commonly used floppy disks are 3.5 inches and have the capacity of 800 KB to 2.8 MB (with a standard of 1.44 MB).

Does anyone still make floppy drives? ›

While nobody now manufactures the media anymore, invested in a large quantity – "a couple of million disks," according to Persky – when production came to an end.

Does anyone use floppy disks anymore? ›

This is one of the only places to buy them An online merchant who runs one of the few remaining websites where you can buy floppy disks says they're still used in the medical and airline industries.

What not to do with floppy disk? ›

Proper Care Of Floppies
  1. Never leave diskettes in the disk drive, as data can leak out of the disk and corrode the inner mechanics of the drive. ...
  2. Diskettes should be cleaned and waxed once a week. ...
  3. Do not fold diskettes unless they do not fit into the drive. ...
  4. Never insert a diskette into the drive upside down.

Should I keep old floppy disks? ›

In all, your floppy disks are recyclable due to the materials they are made with. So, next time your floppy disks get old and unusable, you should remember to package them for recycling.

Will a magnet erase a floppy disk? ›

Run a strong magnet over the floppy disk to erase any data on it. Buy a neodymium magnet from an office store or big box store. Rub the magnet all over both sides of your floppy disk. This will scramble all of the data on the disk, making it unusable.

What is the most durable storage device? ›

SSDs don't use conventional spinning “platters” to store data, so there are fewer moving parts. Under optimal conditions, an SSD can be used for ten years or more without any hardware issues. This makes SSD ideal for long term data storage.

How do you maintain a floppy disk? ›

Caring properly for floppy disks
  1. NEVER, NEVER work directly from the floppy drive. ...
  2. ALWAYS, ALWAYS scan your floppy disks for viruses. ...
  3. NEVER try to remove your floppy disk whilst the drive light is on. ...
  4. ALWAYS keep your floppy disks in a box and at room temperature. ...
  5. NEVER expect disks to last for ever!

What year did they stop making floppy disks? ›

It truly revolutionized the way people worked, and quickly became the most widely used storage medium for small systems. In April 2010, Sony, the only company still producing floppy disks, announced it would stop manufacturing them in March 2011.

What is code 43 problem in USB? ›

Sometimes you may see this error message: Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems (Code 43). This usually means that the driver (which does NOT come from Seagate; this driver comes from Windows) has lost communication with the drive or the driver has crashed.

How do I force Windows to recognize a USB? ›

Windows cannot detect my new USB device. What do I do?
  1. Open Device Manager and then disconnect the USB device from your computer. Wait a few moments and then reconnect the device. ...
  2. Connect the USB device to another USB port.
  3. Connect the USB device to another computer.
  4. Update the USB device drivers.

How do I update my USB drivers? ›

In the search box on the taskbar, enter device manager, then select Device Manager. Select a category to see names of devices, then right-click (or press and hold) the one you'd like to update. Select Search automatically for updated driver software. Select Update Driver.

How many GB do you need to install Windows on USB? ›

What you need. USB flash drive with at least 5GB free space. This drive will be formatted, so make sure it doesn't have any important files on it.

Does Windows 11 use FAT32 or NTFS? ›

There are three file systems to choose from—FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT. Use the latter if you plan on using the drive on macOS and Windows. For Windows 10/11, use the NTFS system. FAT32 has a 4GB limit and isn't optimal in modern computing environments.

Is Windows 11 free? ›

How much does it cost to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11? It's free. But only Windows 10 PCs that are running the most current version of Windows 10 and meet the minimum hardware specifications will be able to upgrade. You can check to see if you have the latest updates for Windows 10 in Settings/Windows Update.

What replaced the floppy disk? ›

It was eventually made obsolete by CDs and flash drives.

Why did floppy disks become obsolete? ›

The introduction of high speed computer networking and formats based on the new NAND flash technique (like USB flash drives and memory cards) led to the eventual disappearance of the floppy disk as a standard feature of microcomputers, with a notable point in this conversion being the introduction of the floppy-less ...

What is better than floppy disk? ›

The hard disk is usually more reliable than a floppy disk. The hard disk is more durable compared to a floppy disk. hard disk store more data compared to a floppy disk. The hard disk is universal while floppy disk drive can only be used on obsolete machines.

What is the price of USB floppy drive? ›

₹ 4,600 / 1 No. Shareyourneed Trading Co.

Who is the last man selling floppy disks? ›

Tom Persky is the self-proclaimed “last man standing in the floppy disk business.” He is the time-honored founder of, a US-based company dedicated to the selling and recycling of floppy disks.

Does the US government still use floppy disks? ›

An curved arrow pointing right. For more than a half-century, the Air Force command in charge of the US's nuclear arsenal has been using floppy disks to control its system. The antiquated system has long done its job well and securely, but the Air Force has replaced it with a new "highly secure" digital storage system.

How do I transfer files from a floppy disk to my computer? ›

Insert your floppy disk into the floppy drive on your computer. Double-click "This PC" to open the disk and view the floppy drive data. Copy and paste the files and folders to another computer drive. Insert a blank CD into the CD-Rewriteable drive and transfer the pasted files from a floppy disk.

Can you get a virus from a floppy disk? ›

Boot sector viruses are usually spread by infected floppy disks. In the past, these were usually bootable disks, but this is no longer the case. A floppy disk does not need to be bootable to transmit a boot sector virus. Any disk can cause infection if it is in the drive when the computer boots up or shuts down.

What are three disadvantages of a floppy disk? ›

Disadvantages of a floppy disk :
  • Easy to be damaged.
  • The access time of floppy disk low.
  • They have to handle more carefully.
  • Floppies can get affected by heat.
  • Small storage capacity.
  • Also limited capacity.
  • Many new computers don't have any floppy disk drive.

Can you reuse floppy disks? ›

Floppy disks were made with durable plastic, making them a material that has strength and longevity. It's perfect for refashioning into a planter, bag, notepad, or into some art.

What can you do with an old floppy drive? ›

If these items are ready for recycling, they can be taken to a Return-It electronics recycling depot. This recycling program includes items such as CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, USB flash drives, VHS tapes, and vinyl records.

What is a floppy disk what years were they most popular? ›

floppy disk, or diskette, magnetic storage medium used with late 20th-century computers. Floppy disks were popular from the 1970s until the late 1990s, when they were supplanted by the increasing use of e-mail attachments and other means to transfer files from computer to computer.

What is a magnetic circle on a floppy disk called? ›

What are the concentric circles on floppy disks known as Tracks. Floppy disk - Also called diskette. The common size is 3.5 inches. Floppy disk drive - The electromechanical device that reads and writes floppy disks. Track - Concentric ring of data on a side of a disk.

Can you put a floppy disk in a shredder? ›

If you still have a floppy drive, or are able to obtain one to plug into a USB port, you can access the data and run one of the many shredding, or secure delete, programs available. Rub the floppy disk all over, on both sides, with a strong magnet.

Why we should not store a floppy disk near a magnet? ›

The magnet will break the disk.

What is the most reliable storage for long term? ›

So, compared with HDD, SSD is more suitable for long-term storage. SSD is more durable than HDD and has better performance.

How long will a 3.5 inch floppy disk last? ›

Floppy Disk

Of course, since floppy disks utilize magnetic storage (not unlike tape), it's safe to say that eventually, the magnetism will wear out around the same time a tape would (ten to twenty years). That's if the cheap, flimsy casing on the disk survives that long.

Which storage device Cannot be erased? ›

Any memory device that cannot be erased and reused is said to be a Read-only device. Read-only memory (ROM) is a type of storage medium that permanently stores data on personal computers (PCs) and other electronic devices.

What were old floppy disks called? ›

The first floppy drives used an 8-inch disk (later called a "diskette" as it got smaller), which evolved into the 5.25-inch disk that was used on the first IBM Personal Computer in August 1981. The 5.25-inch disk held 360 kilobytes compared to the 1.44 megabyte capacity of today's 3.5-inch diskette.

Can you boot Windows 11 from a USB that doesn t support Windows 11? ›

UPDATED 4/12/2023: If you have a computer with unsupported hardware, you may upgrade to Windows 11, but not through Windows Update. Instead, you must use a bootable USB flash drive or ISO file to perform a clean install or in-place upgrade manually.

What type of USB does Windows 11 use? ›

USB-C overview

With a USB-C connection, you can charge your Windows 11 PC, and you can also connect to other USB Type-C devices such as mobile phones, docking stations, display adapters, and other devices that have a USB-C port.

How do I enable USB drivers in Windows 11? ›

Open the Action menu in Device Manager and select Scan for hardware changes. Windows 11 will automatically search for devices, including the USB Root Hub (USB 3.0) and install drivers. If successful, the USB Root Hub (USB 3.0) will reappear in Device Manager. Reboot your PC if it does not appear.

How do I access a USB drive on Windows 11? ›

Normally, you just inset the ISB drive, then open File Explorer and select 'This PC' on the left and on the right, double click the USB drive to access the contained files.

What happens if I install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware? ›

If you try to install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, you may experience unexpected results. Some of these results may include blue screens, system instability, and even data loss. You also won't receive updates directly from Microsoft, as they don't create them for your system.

What size flash drive do I need for Windows 10? ›

You'll need a USB flash drive with at least 16GB of free space, but preferably 32GB. You'll also need a license to activate Windows 10 or Windows 11 on the USB drive, which means you have to either purchase one or use an existing one associated with your digital ID.

How do I know if my USB is 2.0 or 3.0 Windows 11? ›

In Control Panel, click 'Hardware and Sound' and then 'Device Manager'. Scroll down until you see 'Universal Serial Bus Controllers' and expand that section - if you see any items with 'USB 3.0' or 'xHCI' in the title then your PC is equipped with USB 3.0.

How much does a Windows 11 cost? ›

Windows Update will provide an indication if and when your PC is eligible, or you can check by going to Settings/Windows Update. How much does it cost to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11? It's free.

How do I find my product key for Windows 11? ›

The product key is in the confirmation email you received after buying your digital copy of Windows.

Why won't Windows recognize my USB device? ›

This issue can be caused if any of the following situations exist: The currently loaded USB driver has become unstable or corrupt. Your PC requires an update for issues that may conflict with a USB external hard drive and Windows. Windows may be missing other important updates hardware or software issues.

Does Windows 11 automatically update drivers? ›

We recommend you move to a Windows 11 PC to continue to receive security updates from Microsoft. You can have Windows automatically download recommended drivers and detailed information for your hardware and devices.

How do I manually install USB drivers Windows 11? ›

In the search box on the taskbar, enter device manager, then select Device Manager. Select a category to see names of devices, then right-click (or press and hold) the one you'd like to update. Select Search automatically for updated driver software. Select Update Driver.

What is the difference between a flash drive and a pen drive? ›

Although most people use these terms interchangeably, there is a clear distinction between a pen drive and a flash drive. A pen drive is a means to store data that is compatible with only a USB port. On the other hand, a flash drive is a solid-state drive (SSD) that keeps vast amounts of data.

What version of Windows do I have? ›

To find out which version of Windows your device is running, press the Windows logo key + R, type winver in the Open box, and then select OK. Here's how to learn more: Select Start > Settings > System > About .


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