It says something about the competitive nature of the computing industry when it costs the same for me to buy a computer from Dell rather than build one myself. It also makes me glad that I backed out of the computer building game a few years back to concentrate on selling consumables online hence avoiding the pressure of attempting to undercut the big boys.

Getting back to the point I recently purchased a new Dell computer for home and was surprised to find that it didn’t come with a floppy disc drive. I started thinking to myself that I would have surely put a floppy drive into the machine if I were to have built it myself but then actually stopped to consider whether this would have been more a force of habit than necessity.
Well, I’m pleased to say that not once since owning this machine have I missed having a floppy drive at my disposal which led me to once again ask the question ‘is the floppy disk officially dead?’

Personally I can’t wait to see the back of the humble floppy disk; it’s slow, unreliable and worst of all holds a pathetic 1.44mg. Compare this 1.44mg to a writable DVD which holds 4700mg and you soon start to realise quite how little it is.

There are plenty of alternatives and the main contenders I will detail below:
- Writable CD’s. Hold around 700mg depending on the disc - Requires a CD Writer which typically cost around £20 to write the disc and then this can be read by any standard CD drive.
- Writable DVD’s. Hold 4.7Gb as standard – Requires a DVD writer at a cost of around £50 to write the disc and any DVD drive to read the finished product.
- Zip Drive. Capacities vary between 100mg and 750mg. Not only do you require a computer with a Zip drive to write and read the discs but expensive initial costs of around £60 and then expensive media costs don’t make this a particularly viable solution.
- USB flash discs. These are one of the more interesting and flexible solutions and for this reason I have chosen to focus the remainder of the article on this relatively new technology.

USB Flash discs could well be the final nail in the floppy discs coffin. Solutions such as writable CD’s and DVD’s suffer from the fact that if you ever wish to alter the contents of the disc (for example, to update an essay stored on the media) then you need to ensure that you always have access to a computer fitted with a compatible writer.

This is where the USB flash disc comes in; it is a small device which weighs less than 10g and fits on to your key ring so that it can be carried about with you wherever you go. If you ever need to carry your work around with you when you move from location to location then simply plug this device into the back of any computer with a USB port. The device is quickly recognised as a physical drive on your machine which can then be used to copy files on and off of the computer as if it were a hard disc drive.
One of the primary reasons to own one of these is that they benefit from fantastic compatibility as almost every computer now has a USB port and no drivers are needed for computers that have Windows ME or above; you simply plug it in and then it assigns itself the next available drive letter on your computer.

Prices start at a very low £16 for the smaller 128mg variety and then increase as you move up to the range; current maximum to my knowledge is 4.0gb although this won’t be necessary for the majority of people. For a one off investment you can move your files about with you wherever you go and best of all these devices are extremely resilient and can by used over and over again; unless you lose your keys you shouldn’t have to worry about any of your data going missing.

If you need a stocking filler this year for the IT focused member of the family then visit as we do have these items in stock for same day dispatch. Alternatively they are available from most major stockists although obviously do compare prices before ordering as they can vary widely.

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