If you’ve got dusty old floppy disks hiding at the back of your office cupboards, you may not know what to do with them. But for data security they should be wiped, then the rest is up to your creativity.

What to do with old floppy discs

Did you know that we started using floppy disks in the 1970s?

Now, we don’t commonly use them at all and most modern computers don’t even have floppy disk drives. For data storage, if we’re not using the cloud, we usually use an independent hard drive, flash drives or memory cards. Floppy disks only ever stored small amounts of data. We can now store at least 16BG of data on a memory card, which is the equivalent of around 11,111 floppy disks.

Still got floppy disks hanging around the office?

Most of us, if we really rummaged around would be able to find a few old dusty floppy disks at the back of a drawer somewhere. Or maybe you have a stack at the back of an office cupboard you don’t know what to do with, and have no idea what’s on them.

Don’t worry! Did you know that the Boeing 747-400 aircraft is still receiving its critical updates via floppy disk? If it’s ok for Boeing, it’s ok for you. Even if you’re not using them for critical updates!

Your floppy disks are likely to contain data

Because your floppy disks are likely to contain data, you need to wipe them before you simply dispose of them by throwing them away, or sending them to an IT recycling centre. Just as if you were disposing of an old hard drive, you need to wipe it first, to ensure data security.

Options for destroying data on a floppy disk

The disks might be out of date but the business, or personal, data they contain may not be. You have a few options when it comes to wiping and/or destroying floppy disks securely:

  • Incinerate the floppy disks so they are literally obliterated. If you do this, be careful of the toxic fumes emitted by burning floppy disks and do not breathe them in.
  • 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. The magnet will scramble the data on the floppy disk and make it unreadable. Be aware that strong magnets can be dangerous. Purchase one from a reputable supplier and follow all safety precautions.
  • Take the floppy disk apart by removing the rectangular piece of metal at the top of the disk, pulling out the spring and prising it open. Cut the disk inside up into as many non-uniform cuts as possible.

Recycling floppy disks

Once you have destroyed the data on your floppy disks, you may wish to recycle them. There are companies who will take your old disks for secure disposal, and recycling, but it’s recommended you destroy the data on them first before sending on.

Creative uses for floppy disks

If you are, at the end of all the above, still left with a pile of securely wiped floppy disks you don’t want to throw away, you may wish to consider more creative uses for them.

Within moments of searching the internet you will be able to find instructions on how to make many useful objects for your office:

  • Vintage-style laptop bags
  • Pen holders
  • Plant pots

If you fail to be inspired by these crafty suggestions, you can use your floppy disks to create art for your office, as one artist did who was featured in the news for using old floppy disks to create original, mural wall art.

Art and vintage-geek artefacts aside, the most important takeaway is that you should always dispose of your business, and personal, data securely, whether it’s on a floppy disc or any other data storage device.