|Esynic USB Floppy Drive|
|Portable External Floppy Disk Drive|
|Sabrent External USB Floppy Drive|
|Newstyle USB External Floppy Drive|
|3.5inch USB Floppy Drive|
The floppy disk was with us for a long time and, at one point, looked like becoming the established form of data storage. Games, data, and all programs could be loaded onto your computer with a floppy, and you could also use them for recording data. They effectively replaced the cassette tape – who remembers those now – and were effectively replaced by integral hard drives, yet nostalgia played a part in keeping them, in their neatly filed boxes, alive for the future. That’s why we have decided it’s time to take a closer look at the USB floppy drive, and why it might just be a lifeline for your seemingly redundant disks. Before we go into detail, let’s talk a little about what these things are, and how they work.
Our Top 10 USB Floppy Disk Drives
Table of Contents
- 1 Our Top 10 USB Floppy Disk Drives
- 1.1 1: Esynic USB Floppy Drive
- 1.2 2: Portable External Floppy Disk Drive
- 1.3 3: Sabrent External USB Floppy Drive
- 1.4 4: Newstyle USB External Floppy Drive
- 1.5 5: 3.5inch USB Floppy Drive
- 1.6 6: Chuanganzhou USB Floppy Drive
- 1.7 7: Xfox External Floppy Drive
- 1.8 8: Yosoo Floppy Drive Emulator
- 1.9 9: Teac Corp Floppy Drive
- 1.10 10: New Slim External Floppy Drive
- 2 Important Features to Look For
- 3 How USB Floppy Disk Drives Work
- 4 Let’s Wrap It Up!
Before we begin, be aware that we feel this review may become a little repetitive; after all, a USB floppy drive is just that, and nothing more. We doubt we will find any exciting or exclusive features, and we reckon they will all look pretty much the same. Why go on, then? Because there are differences, and there are some that are distinctly better than others. This one, from Esynic, is absolutely typical of the breed – enough so that we could even call it average. It’s small, black, rectangular, and comes with the usual USB docking port.
It is a very slim and light model, weighing just 350g so is suitable for carrying around, and it handles the usual 3.5inch 1.44MB floppy discs. It works with Mac and all Windows operating systems, has a data transfer rate of as much as 500 Kbits, and its 40cm cable is a more than adequate. It is a high-quality device that is well-built and durable, and it does the job very well. The price is around £12, so it’s also affordable, and would make a great gift for anyone with a bunch of old disks lying around.
You might be wondering why you need a USB floppy drive; unless you have a load of old disks lying around, you don’t! But, for those of us who wonder just what it was we have on those long-forgotten floppies, these cheap and usable devices are a must. This one is very similar to the above model; it even looks almost identical. It comes in a neat and durable casing, so is fine for carrying around, and supports the standard size and type of floppy disk. It is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and performs at the usual speeds.
As with all of these, no power source is required as it uses the USB port, and it does not require any external drivers as it is a plug and play device that will sort its drivers out automatically. What more can we say about it? This is where it starts to get difficult, and we’re only on number 2! It’s a neat little device, very slim and easy to carry around, and is perfect for unlocking the secrets of your old floppy disks, and at somewhere around £10 is very cheap.
3: Sabrent External USB Floppy Drive
We’re beginning to imagine the scene in the Sabrent design office, when the boss says ‘we need a USB floppy drive, design me one now’! The designer uses a pencil, a ruler, and a piece of paper and, in a few minutes, presents a picture of a black, rectangular box, floppy disk sized, with a cable attached. That’s precisely what this is, and what the two above are, also. It’s simple, it’s small, it does what it sets out to do, and it is made from a durable plastic material.
There is no externa power supply as it is powered by the USB port; it is compatible with Mac and Windows operating systems, and it downloads its own drivers so you don’t have to worry about that side of things. It has a data transfer rate of 1Mbps, which is perfectly adequate, the cable is a sensible length, and it is very slim and light. And that’s about it, really, we’ve said all there is to say! Oh, almost forgot, it’s around a tenner, which is pretty much the norm for one of these.
4: Newstyle USB External Floppy Drive
Let’s liven things up with a little quiz question: what does USB stand for? It’s one of those things you read or hear and never think ‘what does it mean’? It’s just a little plug-in hole in the side of your laptop, after all! Well, you heard it here first: it stands for Universal Serial Bus, and it’s what this very neat and very standard external floppy drive from Newstyle plugs into. It’s also what powers the device, and what is used to draw information from your floppy disks to your computer.
Some details of this one: it has a nice plastic case, is slim and lightweight, and handles operating systems up to Windows 8 (not 10, and there is no mention of it being compatible with Mac OS). It has a suitable cable length, runs at all the usual standard speeds, and is a plug in and play device so will sort out its own drivers. It’s pretty standard, to be honest, and comes at a pretty standard price of a little less than ten quid.
5: 3.5inch USB Floppy Drive
When we say these things are standard and average we are not being dismissive; it’s simply that, when it comes to computer peripherals, these are not very exciting! However, who knows what is on those floppy disks in a box in the cupboard? This is your only way to find out! To be honest we reckon this one is absolutely identical to number 2 on the list, and if not then it really is very similar (in fact, it’s very similar to all of these!) It comes with all the standard features, i.e.
It comes in a neat and durable casing, so is fine for carrying around, and supports the standard size and type of floppy disk. It is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and performs at the usual speeds. As with all of these, no power source is required as it uses the USB port, and it does not require any external drivers as it is a plug and play device that will sort its drivers out automatically. And, to top it all, it’s about £10 to buy.
6: Chuanganzhou USB Floppy Drive
At last, something different! Well, not a lot different, but it gives us something to write about. First, the name: the Chinese should get to grips with Western brand names, as nobody over here is ever going to ask for a Chuanganzhou! Still, it’s distinctive, we suppose. And the difference? It’s white! Every other model so far has been black, and this one is white, so we reckon it deserves to be included for that alone. Does it do anything special? No, it doesn’t, but here – for the record – is what it does:
It’s plug and play, so you don’t need to worry about drivers as it will sort them itself; it is powered by your USB port, so you don’t need an external power source; it is compatible with all Windows and Mac operating systems; it comes with a suitable length of cable; it’s easy to use, and brings your old floppy disks back to life with ease. It’s also light and slim, so it is easy to carry around. The price? You guessed correctly – it’s about a tenner.
7: Xfox External Floppy Drive
A little piece of advice we have gathered from reviewing these devices, and it’s one that you might like to take notice of. When you plug your external floppy drive into your USB port, do it directly; in other words, don’t use an extension or a USB hub. This is because the drive needs all the power provided by the USB port to operate, and it may not have enough if you use extensions. You heard it here first! What can we say about this one? Well, it has a nice black case that is sturdy and feels like a quality item, to begin with.
It handles the usual 3.5inch floppy disks, so you can uncover lost data with ease, and it runs with Windows up to 8 (not 10) and also Mac operating systems. It’s plug in and play so it will source and download drivers itself, and it is very slim and very light, so is perfect for carrying around. Data transfer speed is 12Mbps, which is perfectly adequate for one of these, and does what it says it does. That’s about it, and it costs the usual, about £10.
8: Yosoo Floppy Drive Emulator
This one at least looks a bit different to the rest; in fact, we’d go as far as to say it looks unfinished! It’s not as sleek or neat as some of its competitors, although it is small and light enough to be portable. Data transfer is 500kbps, which is not as fast as some of the others, and it is made from a durable plastic material. It will download its own drivers, and it is easy to use with a simple two button operation. It does the job, but perhaps not as well as some of the rival models on this list.
However, there are problems with this one, that we don’t quite understand: it only works with Windows up to version 7; so no Windows 8 or Windows 10 machines will work with it. Furthermore, it doesn’t work with any Mac operating systems. This is a serious limitation among these models, which – let’s face it – all offer the same level of operation, or thereabouts. It’s an odd one, and we also can’t understand why, when everything else is around £10, this one is more than twice the price. Very curious, and it rather puts it out of the running. Or perhaps we’re missing something?
9: Teac Corp Floppy Drive
This one is at least from a known brand: Teac has a wide range of electronics products that are well-regarded, and this is typical of the quality of the brand. It’s the usual black, durable plastic design and it is small and light. It has a long cable for added versatility, and it works with the usual 3.5inch, 1.44Mb floppy disks. You can easily recover any information you have on your old disks, and it is very simple to use. Like all of these, it’s a read and write machine, so if you want to add anything to a floppy you can, although we see absolutely no reason why you would!
It’s for use with Windows, including Windows 10, but the manufacturer makes no mention of it being compatible with Mac operating systems. It is very compact and light, so perfect for carrying from place to place, and it does the job it’s designed for. Is there anything the recommends this one above all the others? Well, no, and you also pay for the brand as it is around £20, which is twice the cost of most of the rest.
10: New Slim External Floppy Drive
At last, we reach the end! Number 10 is just like all the rest, as we have come to expect. The standard is met by it being a slim, light and black model – indeed this one is perhaps the lightest of all – and by being used to read 3.5inch floppy disks. It’s neat, and made from durable material, and is compatible with all Windows versions, although the manufacturer makes no mention of it being Mac compatible. It’s plug and play, so you don’t have to worry about external drivers, and it comes with a sensible length of cable.
What else is there to say about it? Not a lot that hasn’t already been said: you get a device that will read your old floppy disks, which is presumably what you want, and it does what it is designed for perfectly well. It’s just that, as these are all so alike, it is nothing exceptional, and it costs less than ten pounds, so is one of the cheapest here.
So, there you have it: the top 10 USB floppy disk drives, and all of them are pretty much the same! Before we go on to sum up, let’s have a quick recap of the features to consider when choosing one of these.
Important Features to Look For
The problem with this review is that every single one of these, with only a couple or rare exceptions, is pretty much identical. There are a few features to consider, so let’s have a look at them before we get to our conclusion:
- Operating System – not all of these are compatible with Mac operating systems, and not all with Windows 10 (or in some cases even Windows 8) so check before you buy or you could end up with a machine that is of no use.
- Size – if you are planning on carrying your USB floppy drive from place to place you need it to be small and light, and most of these weigh in at only a few ounces. They are also surprisingly thin, so will take up little space in your luggage or backpack.
- Speed – the data transfer speed of these devices varies, often quite considerably, so you need to make sure you have the device with the most capable speed. Check the specs before you choose your model.
- Price – if it’s much more than £10 you are paying too much.
That’s about it, so all that is left is to wrap it up!
How USB Floppy Disk Drives Work
So rapid has the development of personal – and business – computers been, it seems that things that were commonplace just a few years ago are now a distant memory. It’s an oft-quoted fact that the then president of IBM, back in the days before personal computers were omnipresent, declared that there was a world market for half a dozen, and no more. He couldn’t have been more wrong! If you’re a similar age to me, you probably remember loading games onto your Sinclair Spectrum using a cassette tape. A few years later, and you may have graduated to a Commodore 64, with a floppy disk drive – the absolute height of technology in its day!
The development of powerful and compact hard drives put paid to the floppy – you don’t need external storage when you can save everything on your PC – and soon they were superseded by the DVD. Now, of course, we have cloud storage, which takes things a step further, so even the internal hard drive is becoming redundant. What we are looking here are essentially mundane products; they are external drives for floppy disks, and they are powered by – and use to upload – the USB port on your PC or laptop. They allow you to access data that you may still have stored on floppy disks, so you can take a walk back into the past! Let’s have a look at the top 10 floppy disk drives, and see if we can find one for you.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
To be honest, this has been one of the most difficult of all reviews, simply because the basics of a USB floppy drive are the same throughout. There’s very little in terms of variation – even in price – and finding something different about each of them was pretty much impossible!
The thing about these devices is that, to buy one, you really have got to want – or need – one; they are not the sort of object you buy on a whim, and are only of any use if you have old floppy disks containing data you need to access. Frankly, we can’t see a reason to use the write function, as there are many more practical data storage systems available nowadays.
So, which would we recommend you buy? There’s no one item that stands out, but we recommend you choose the cheapest one that is compatible with your operating system, as they all do the same thing in the end. That’s it from us, so have fun finding out what is on those old floppy disks, and reliving the past via your computer!