How to read a floppy disk on a modern PC or Mac (2023)

How to read a floppy disk on a modern PC or Mac (1)

Remember floppy disks? They were necessary then. Eventually they were replaced and floppy drives disappeared from new computers. How to access a vintage 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch floppy disk on a modern Windows PC or Mac computer.

There's a catch: copying the data is the easy part

Before we begin, you should realize one big caveat. What we will cover here - copying data from an old floppy disk to a modern computer - is only half the battle. After you copy the data, you need to be able to read it. It may be locked in old file formats that modern software cannot understand.

You will need to figure out how to access or convert the data using the emulator,such as DOSBoxor other utilities that are beyond the scope of this article.

RELATED: Are your old floppy disks still readable?

How to copy files from a 3.5-inch floppy drive to a modern computer

How to read a floppy disk on a modern PC or Mac (2)

If you have 3.5-inch floppy disks formatted for MS-DOS or Windows that you want to copy to a modern Windows 10 or Windows 7 computer, you're in luck. This is the easiest format to work with. 3.5-inch floppy drives stuck around as a legacy product long after their 1.44MB capacity became absurdly small in relative terms. As a result, many semi-modern drives and solutions are available. We cover the options from the easiest to the most difficult.

Option 1: Use a new USB floppy drive

If you browse Amazon, Newegg, or even eBay, you'll find plenty of cheap ($10-$30) modernUSB 3.5 inch floppy drive. If you're in a hurry and want a plug-and-play solution for just one or two drives, this might be worth a shot.

However, in our experience, these drives are often frustrating due to their unreliability. So before you jump in, read some of the reviews. Rest assured that you can risk your old data on a disk that probably only costs a few dollars to produce.

Option 2: Use an old USB floppy drive

How to read a floppy disk on a modern PC or Mac (3)

In the late 90s and early 00s, many manufacturers of thin laptops (such as HP, Sony, and Dell) also produced external USB floppy drives. These vintage drives have much better quality parts than the cheap USB drives now on Amazon. They are also new enough to work without any repairs.

(Video) How to Read a Floppy Disk on a Modern PC or Mac

We recommend searching eBay for something like "Sony USB diskette,” and try your luck with one of them. Windows 10 still supports most as plug-and-play devices.

Despite the brand name, you don't need a drive that matches your computer. For example, a Sony USB floppy drive will work when plugged into a USB port on any Windows computer.

Option 3: Use an internal floppy drive with an inexpensive USB adapter

If you're looking for more than a roll-your-own challenge, you can also buy a vintage 3.5-inch internal floppy drive. You may even have one sitting. You can connect it to ageneric floppy disk to USB adapter.

You can set one upexternal power supplyto a floppy drive withcorrect adapter. Another option is to mount the drive and adapter internally in the computer case and then use itSATA power adapterthere. However, we have not tested these boards, so proceed at your own risk.

Option 4: Use an old computer with a floppy drive and a network connection

If you have an older Windows 98, ME, XP, or 2000 PC or laptop with Ethernet and a 3.5-inch floppy drive, it may be able to read and copy a floppy disk to your computer's hard drive. You can then copy the data over your LAN to a modern computer.

The hardest part is making sure the LAN between your old and modern machines is working properly. Comes down tolet Windows file sharing from different eras be nice to each other.

You can also upload files to an FTP site (perhaps via a local NAS server) and then download them to your modern computer.

How to copy PC files from a 5.25 inch floppy drive to a modern computer

How to read a floppy disk on a modern PC or Mac (4)

If you have 5.25-inch floppy disks formatted for MS-DOS or Windows that you want to copy to a modern Windows computer, you have a more difficult task ahead of you. This is because 5.25-inch floppy drives fell out of common use in the mid-1990s, so finding the right 5.25-inch floppy drive can be a challenge.

Let's look at the options for copying data to a modern computer from the easiest to the most difficult.

(Video) How to Read a Floppy Disk

Option 1: Use the FC5025 USB adapter and an internal 5.25-inch floppy drive

A small company calledDevice page informationproduces an adapter calledFC5025. It allows you to use the internal 5.25-inch floppy drive to copy data from 5.25-inch discs in various formats via a USB cable to a modern computer. Board of Directorsit costs about 55 dollars.

However, you must also use all the necessary cables,power supply with Molex connectorfor the drive, and maybe an old 5.25" external drive case if you want a nice looking device. However, once you've got it set up, the FC5205 is definitely worth it. This is especially useful if you also have 5.25" PC drives non-IBM systems (such as the Apple II) that you want to back up.

FC5025 copies data with diskette nadisk image files, so you should also use a disk imaging tool, e.gWinImage, for reading and extracting data.

Option 2: Use Kryoflux with an internal 5.25-inch floppy drive

Similar to the FC5025,KryoFluxis a floppy to USB adapter that requires quite a bit of setup to get it up and running. Again, you'll need a KryoFlux board, a vintage 5.25-inch floppy drive, a power supply, cables, and possibly a case.

Kryoflux copies disk data into disk image files. You can then use them with emulators or access them with a disk image tool such asWinImage.

The advantage of KryoFlux is that it can back up copy-protected discs or discs in many other system formats (Apple II, C64, and so on) with a high degree of accuracy.

However, KryoFlux has several disadvantages. First thatit costs over $100.

Second, it is aimed at the academic software preservation market, not general consumers. Therefore, backing up and even accessing data on the disk is not a very simple operation.

Option 3: Use an old computer with a floppy drive and a network connection

If you have an older Windows 98 or ME computer with Ethernet and a 5.25-inch floppy drive, it may be able to read the floppy so you can copy data over the LAN to a modern computer.

(Video) Can you read a Floppy on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu or Raspberry Pi in 2020?

As with a 3.5-inch drive, you may experience problemsenable file sharing to work properly in Windowsbetween an old and a modern computer.

However, there are other possibilities. One is to upload files to an FTP server from the old machine and then download them from that server to the newer computer.

How to copy files from a 3.5-inch floppy drive to a modern Mac

How to read a floppy disk on a modern PC or Mac (5)

The process of reading floppy disks on a Mac depends on the type of disk you want it to read. We review each type in the following sections.

1,44 MB Mac-disketer

If you have 1.44MB Mac floppy disks, a modern Mac running macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier should be able to read them with an old USB floppy drive.

Many people preferImation SuperDisk LS-120USB drive. It isZIP pogona competitor that reads both its original high-capacity floppies and regular 1.44MB floppies. You still canfind them for a reasonable price on eBay. You can also use an old Sony or HP USB floppy drive.

However, if your machine is running macOS 10.15 or later, you're out of luck when it comes to native USB disk support. Apple has removed support forHierarchical File System (HFS)on old Mac floppies starting with Catalina. There may be some technical solutions, including reestablishing HFS support, but they are complex and the possibilities are just emerging.

IBM PC 3.5 inch floppy disks

If you want your Mac to read 3.5-inch IBM PC-format floppy disks, you can use a vintage PC USB floppy drive. (Ironically, Catalina can still read the FAT12 file system used by old MS-DOS floppies, but not old Mac disks.)

We tested the Sony VAIO floppy drive with a 2013 iMac. There were no problems reading files on the IBM PC 3.5-inch high-density disk format. You can probably find a good oneSony or HP USB disk drives on eBay.

400 ili 800K Mac diskette

If you have 400 or 800K Mac diskettes, things get a lot more complicated. The discs that wrote them were usedspecial coding called GCR.This technique is not physically supported in most USB 3.5-inch floppy drives.

(Video) MacBook MacOS | How to read and write to a floppy disk | 2022

Recently, however, a new possibility has been pointed outapplesauceappeared for archiving 400/800K Mac drives. It's a USB adapter that allows you to connect old Apple II and Macintosh floppy drives to a modern Mac and read old floppy disks with incredible accuracy.

Its main drawback is its price - thatThe deluxe version you need to read Mac discsis $285. This is mainly due to the fact that it is a complex hobby product with very low volume. However, with this device and a suitable legacy drive, you can read your floppies for the disk images they may beused with emulatorsor extracted with other tools.

All Mac diskettes

For all Mac drives, your best bet would be to find an old Mac desktop or laptop with a 3.5-inch.SuperDrivewhich can read and write 400/800 K and 1.44 MB disks. Try to find a machine frombeige G3 dobawhich still comes with floppy disks. The newer the better as the less likely you will need to fix it to keep it working.

From there you can use networking to copy files between old and modern Macs, but that's about itanother can of worms, totally.

It's complicated, but there is hope

When backing up old floppy disks, all possible combinations of drives, systems, and formats involve a complex set of strategies that we cannot possibly cover here.

Fortunately, there are other resources if you need something more complex, e.gaccess to an 8-inch diskette drive containing CP/M files. Herb Johnson maintains an impressive page fulltechnical data on various diskette systemsif you want to know more about how they work.

LowEndMac also has onea wonderful guide to Mac floppy disk formats. Good luck!


(Video) reading mac 800k floppies, more complex than you'd think!

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How to read a floppy disk on a modern PC or Mac? ›

If your computer doesn't have a floppy disk drive, you will need to use an external drive to read the disk. If your modern computer doesn't have an internal floppy disk drive, an external USB floppy disk drive can be used instead. These drives are small and can be easily connected to your computer through a USB port.

Can modern computers read floppy disks? ›

If you browse Amazon, Newegg, or eBay, you'll find many inexpensive modern 3.5-inch USB floppy disk readers, just like the following picture. You just need to plug your floppy disk into the floppy disk reader and connect the USB cable to PC. Then, the PC can read the floppy disk.

How does a computer read a floppy disk? ›

The information retrieved and written onto a floppy disk is controlled by the process of magnetic encoding. As the read/write head passes over designated tracks of the floppy disk it uses magnetic polarization to write information onto the disk, and to retrieve this information.

Can Windows 10 read floppy disks? ›

If you have 3.5-inch floppy disks formatted for MS-DOS or Windows that you want to copy to a modern Windows 10 or Windows 7 PC, you're in luck. This is the easiest format to work with. The 3.5-inch floppy drives held on as a legacy product long after their 1.44 MB capacity had become absurdly small in relative terms.

Does floppy disk work on Mac? ›

The short answer is yes, external USB floppy drives will still work with macOS.

Can you convert floppy to USB? ›

The 'Floppy to USB' device is a device used to eliminate floppy disks and floppy drives. The 'Floppy to USB' device will replace your current floppy drive with a USB reader that emulates a Floppy Disk Drive.

How do I transfer data 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.

Does anyone still use floppy disks? ›

The floppy disk is still used in:

Airplanes like some Boeing 747s and 767s, and Airbus A320s. Medical equipment and embroidery machines. San Francisco's subway system. Chuck E.

Can Windows 11 read floppy disks? ›

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.

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.

Are floppy disk drives obsolete? ›

Floppy disks remained a popular medium for nearly 40 years, but their use was declining by the mid- to late 1990s.

What format is PC floppy disk? ›

Most floppy disks used by PCs use the FAT12 file system format, which imposes certain practical defaults on the logical geometry in order to be recognizable by all operating systems.

What was the last Mac with a floppy drive? ›

Macintosh PowerBook 2400c Floppy Disk Drive

The drive was discontinued in 1998 and would be the last external floppy drive manufactured by Apple.

What is the floppy format for Mac? ›

The original Mac floppy disk format was MFS, for Macintosh File System, and it is only used for 400K single-sided floppies – the only kind of floppy drive supported by the original Macintosh, the Mac 512K Fat Mac, and the Lisa 2 (a.k.a. Macintosh XL).

Can Mac read discs? ›

If you connect an external optical drive (for example, an Apple USB SuperDrive), you can play CDs and DVDs to listen to music, watch movies, or access files that were backed up on a disc.

Who converts floppy disc to digital? ›

RetroFloppy is the leader in rescuing files from aging disks and converting files to modern formats. Serving our clients for more than a decade, we are the authority on media and format conversion. We transfer your files and convert them to formats you can understand today.

What is a floppy adapter? ›

This internal power splitting cable allows you to power one or two floppy disk drives inside your PC, or other devices that use the four-pin power connector common to floppy drives.

Can you retrieve information from a floppy disk? ›

Yes, you can recover corrupted data from a bad floppy disk if you use the right software. The most efficient one is iMyFone which uses advanced analysis techniques to recover and fix corrupted floppy data.

How do I open a floppy disk in Windows 10? ›

If you have an old physical Floppy Drive that you can attach to your device, then you will need to download the latest driver from the Windows Update website to use it with Windows 10. Attach the drive, open the Device Manager and select Scan for hardware changes and then Install or Update the driver.

How do I change the format of a floppy disk? ›

Right-click the 3 1/2 Floppy icon (this is usually the A: drive), and select Format.... The Format dialog box will open. Click Start. The status of the formatting process will be displayed across the bottom of the Formatting dialog box.

Why floppy disks are obsolete? ›

The 3.5-inch floppy disk format was the last mass-produced format, replacing 5.25-inch floppies by the mid-1990s. It was more durable than previous floppy formats since the packaging was rigid plastic with a sliding metal shutter. It was eventually made obsolete by CDs and flash drives.

Why were floppy disks discontinued? ›

In spite of their limitations, five-and-a-quarter inch floppies became the de-facto standard for personal computers. Manufacturers experimented with other formats, but the ubiquity of five-and-a-quarter inch disks made them difficult to supplant. That changed beginning in 1984.

What is the difference between floppy disk and diskette? ›

The floppy disk drive, also known as diskette, is a removable magnetic storage medium that allows recording of data. IBM first introduced it as a 8-in diskette in 1971. In the middle of 1970s, a 5.25 diskette was introduced.

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.

How much memory is on an old floppy disk? ›

Floppy disk technology evolved over time. The first 8-inch floppy disk had a storage capacity of about 80 kilobytes. By 1986, IBM introduced the 3-1/2 inch floppy disk with 1.44 megabytes of storage space. This may seem like very little now, but at the time it was hard to imagine needing more space than that.

Can zip drives read floppy disks? ›

On the other hand, the minimum storage capacity of a zip drive is 100 MB. It also offers 250 MB and 750 MB storage capacity. While a zip drive can read a floppy disk, floppy drives cannot read zip drives because of their narrow tracks and how fast they spin.

Is floppy disk a read only memory? ›

8-inch floppy disk

Floppy disks of the first standard are 8 inches in diameter, protected by a flexible plastic jacket. It was a read-only device used by IBM as a way of loading microcode.

How many floppy disks can you have in Windows 95? ›

The retail version of Windows 95 came on 13 floppy disks BUT OSR 2.1 HAD 26 floppy disks!

How do I destroy 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.

What is the difference between a zip drive and a floppy disk? ›

A Zip disk is similar in size to a floppy diskette, but thicker. It is basically a “super floppy” but the higher construction tolerances and smaller read/write heads allow the Zip disk to hold more data than a floppy.

Is A floppy disk the same as a hard drive? ›

Hard disk is a type of magnetic memory made up of non-magnetic materials and is used for data storage in computers. Floppy disk is a type of magnetic memory made up of plastic and used for permanent data storage. Hard disks are made of a metal like aluminum. Floppy disk is made of flexible plastic material.

What year Mac is obsolete? ›

Obsoleted Macs include the late 2013 21.5 and 27-inch iMacs, the mid-2014 21.5-inch ‌iMac‌, and the late 2014 27-inch Retina 5K ‌iMac‌. The late 2014 27-inch ‌iMac‌ was the first iMac with a 5K Retina display. At the time, Apple's Phil Schiller said it was the "most insanely great Mac we have ever made."

What is the oldest Mac that can be updated? ›

Apple advises that macOS Catalina will run on the following Macs:
  • MacBook models from early 2015 or later.
  • MacBook Air models from mid-2012 or later.
  • MacBook Pro models from mid-2012 or later.
  • Mac mini models from late 2012 or later.
  • iMac models from late 2012 or later.
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro models from late 2013.
Mar 21, 2023

How old is the oldest Mac? ›

The first Mac was released in 1984, and was advertised with the highly acclaimed "1984" ad. After a period of initial success, the Mac languished in the 1990s until the 1996 acquisition of NeXT brought Steve Jobs back to Apple.

When did Apple stop using floppy disks? ›

With the 1998 release of the iMac, Apple did away with the floppy disk drive, leaving only a rewritable CD drive. That lasted about 10 years, and then Apple killed the CD drive, as well.

What is the difference between 5 1 4 floppy and 3 1 2 floppy? ›

Double-density 5 1/4" diskettes usually have a hub ring, while high-density diskettes generally do not (although there may be exceptions). High-density 3 1/2" diskettes have a square hole on the diskette shell in the top left corner (when the diskette is oriented face up with its shutter down).

How many pages of text can you put on a floppy disk? ›

For example, a 3.5-inch floppy disk holds 1.4MB of data, which is equivalent to 280 pages of A4 paper filled with size 10 font.

How do I make a disk readable on a Mac? ›

Repair a storage device in Disk Utility on Mac
  1. In the Disk Utility app on your Mac, choose View > Show All Devices. ...
  2. In the sidebar, select a volume, then click the First Aid button .
  3. In the First Aid dialog, click Run, then follow the onscreen instructions.
  4. When the First Aid process is complete, click Done.

How do I get my Mac to read a disc? ›

Turn the disc label so it faces up or toward you. Insert the disc into the optical drive until you feel the drive catch and pull the disc in. You must insert the disc nearly all the way in before the drive pulls it in.

Why hard disk cannot be read on Mac? ›

Why is my external hard drive not readable on Mac? The most common issue is your drive being formatted incorrectly. In this case, you'll need to change the format of your drive using Disk Utility. Other reasons might include issues with power supply, faulty cable, and your drive being corrupted or broken.

Why floppy disk are not used nowadays? ›

Answer. Explanation: The most common format was 1.44 MB, capable of holding only very small amounts of data . Computers need a floppy drive to read floppy disks, and many modern computers are no longer supplied with a floppy disk drive because we now work with much larger files.

Is anyone still manufacturing floppy disks? ›

Even though the last major manufacturer of floppy disks stopped making them in 2010, the machines that rely on them—from embroidery machines to plastic molding, medical equipment to aircraft—live on, relying on a dwindling supply of disks that will one day run out.

What has replaced the floppy disk? ›

It was eventually made obsolete by CDs and flash drives.

What do we use instead of floppy disks? ›

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.

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.

When was the last floppy disk made? ›

They could easily transfer data and programs from one machine to another. 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.


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