What Is a Floppy Disk Drive?

Photo of a Sabrent External USB 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive
Sabrent External USB 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive. © Sabrent

The floppy drive is a piece of computer hardware that reads data from, and writes data to, a small disk.

The most common type of floppy drive is the 3.5" drive, followed by the 5.25" drive, among other sizes.

For the most part, the floppy drive is completely obsolete.

The Floppy Drive is Also Known As

floppy disk drive, disk drive, diskette drive, 3.5" drive, 5.25" drive

Important Floppy Drive Facts

While still a component of some existing computers, floppy drives are essentially obsolete, replaced by inexpensive flash drives and other portable media drives.

A floppy drive is no longer standard equipment in new computer systems.

Traditional floppy drives that install inside of a computer case are becoming less and less available. Typically, the best option when adding a floppy drive will be to purchase an external one, probably USB-based like the one pictured here.

Floppy Drive Description

A traditional 3.5" floppy drive is about the size and weight of a few decks of cards. Some external USB versions are only slightly larger than floppy disks themselves.

The front of the floppy drive has a slot to insert the disk into and a small button to eject it.

The sides of the traditional floppy drive have pre-drilled, threaded holes for easy mounting in the 3.5-inch drive bay in the computer case. Mounting is also possible in a larger 5.25-inch drive bay with a 5.25-to-3.5 bracket.

The floppy drive is mounted so the end with the connections faces inside the computer and the slot for the disk faces outside.

The back end of the traditional floppy drive contains a port for a standard cable that connects to the motherboard. Also here is a connection for power from the power supply.

An external floppy drive will only have whatever connection is necessary to hook it up to the computer, usually a cable with a USB Type A connector.