Floppy disks: Most of you have used or have seen diskettes, also known as floppy disks."
Floppies are about the most common means of storing programs and data, and virtually every PC has
at least one floppy disk drive.
Hard disks: Hard disks are large capacity storage devices. A hard disk consists of several rigid
magnetic disks permanently housed in a sealed unit. The disks are usually made of aluminum, coated
with the same iron-oxide as the floppy disk. Many PCs also have a hard disk.
Optical/Magneto- Optical Storage Media: One of the newest things in computer technology is storing
programs and information on compact discs (CDs). These CDs look like the CDs that play music, and
are coming into widespread use. In this technology, computers use lasers to read and write
Part C: Hazards to Computer Storage Media
If storage media are vulnerable to loss and damage, what are the hazards? A "hazard" is anything that
has the potential to damage or destroy a floppy disk, hard disk, or CD, and the programs or data
stored on it. Computer storage media face several hazards:
Static electricity and magnetism: Static electricity, which you can get from simply walking across a
carpet, and magnetic fields, which any telephone, radio or any electrical device generates, can have a
devastating effect on storage media. Information which is stored magnetically can certainly be
"unstored" magnetically. If you touch a floppy disk, the static discharge may alter the magnetically
stored data, and you can lose your information. If you expose a floppy disk to a magnetic field, you
will probably lose your information.
Contaminants: Ordinary contaminants like the tars and particles in cigarette smoke, doughnut
crumbs, and coffee are probably the major reasons for disk failure. If you spill a cup of coffee on a
floppy disk, its all over! If you then put that disk in your computers disk drive, you damage not only
the floppy disk but your computer as well.
Temperature extremes: Temperature extremes, especially heat, are not good for magnetic storage
media. The units which took computers to Saudi Arabia had some problems with the heat -
temperatures there ranged from freezing at night to over 125 degrees in the daytime. If you leave a
floppy disk in direct sunlight for any length of time, it will suffer damage.
User abuse: In Lesson 2 (The Threats to Army Computers), you found out that the authorized user is
the leading threat, and that holds true for storage media as well. User abuse includes folding,
bending, and dropping. Any rough treatment will likely damage your disk. Touch the recording
surface and you leave an oily fingerprint. A sweaty fingerprint will probably rust or corrode the disks
iron- oxide coating.