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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Floppy Disk Drives | Floppy Disk Interfacing and Configuration ]

Floppy Disk Performance

In some ways, the terms "floppy disk" and performance don't belong in the same sentence. That sounds a bit harsh, but really, the floppy disk is the slowest storage device in your PC. At least I sure hope it is for your sake! Since the floppy drive is standardized, and the controllers are standardized, there is nothing any regular PC user can do to improve hardware performance when it comes to floppies. Therefore, there isn't much to talk about in this regard.

There actually is one legitimate performance factor when it comes to floppy disks, but it is actually more of an operating system issue than a hardware issue. Traditionally, floppy disks have been accessed using standard BIOS routines and this has contributed to their rather slow performance. Furthermore, their use in a multitasking environment has been quite poor. If you've ever used Windows 3.x and tried to do anything at the same time that you were doing any work with the floppy disk, you probably noticed how the entire system would seem to slow to a crawl.

Under 32-bit operating systems like Windows 95 and Windows NT, floppy drive access is performed using 32-bit protected mode drivers. This is similar to the way that these operating systems access hard disks for improved performance. The difference in floppy speed under Windows 95, compared to DOS for example, is actually quite striking; it's very noticeable. And you can use the floppy disk while performing other tasks.

Next: Floppy Disk Reliability

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