Many people have dusty floppy disks somewhere with no idea what kind of information is on them. Although they may make you want to just dump them, it is safer to delete any information they have first. If you want to check what kind of information is on the floppy disks, you can purchase a USB floppy disk drive. You can then run a safe removal program or physically destroy the disks. You can also send the discs to a recycling service or reuse them if you are not concerned about data.
Method 1 of 2: Destroy Floppy Disks at Home
Step 1. Check what's on the discs, if you can
If there is a possibility that there is important or sensitive information on the floppy disks, you may want to find a way to get the information off the disks. If you have an older computer with a floppy drive, try that first. If not, find a floppy drive that you can connect to your computer with a USB drive. Major electronics stores sell these external floppy drives.
There are also services that will extract data from floppy disks for you. However, this can be expensive
Step 2. Run a "shredding" program if you can connect the disks
These are also called safe removal programs, and they overwrite the data on floppy disks so that it is completely erased. Insert the disk into the drive and run the program. When the program finishes, all data on the disk will have been safely removed.
- Once you run a shredding program, the information on the discs will be gone forever. You can reuse the floppy disks or take them to an electronic waste center.
- This only works if you have a floppy drive. It may be easier to disassemble the disks and destroy them physically.
Step 3. Pass a strong magnet over the floppy disk to erase any data on it
Purchase a neodymium magnet at a grocery or office supply store. Rub the magnet on both sides of the floppy disk. This will scramble all the data on the disk, rendering it unusable.
Neodymium magnets are quite powerful magnets
Step 4. Open the floppy disk and cut it with scissors to physically destroy the data
To open the floppy, remove the rectangular metal piece from the top of the disk, pull out the spring underneath, and use your fingers to pry open the disk case. Cut the disc inside with a pair of scissors. Don't cut with a neat design. Random cuts work best.
- The smaller and more numerous the pieces, the better, as these can be re-taped.
- Don't worry about being picky about the record. You may have to be a bit rough to open it.
- Alternatively, after disassembling the disc, you can put the magnetic tape in a cross cut shredder.
Step 5. Burn the floppy disks outside to destroy them completely
Use a solid metal trash can or barrel to burn. Put the floppy disks inside and light them with a long lighter. You may have to use some flammable liquid and paper or cardboard to start the fire.
- The smoke from burning floppy disks will be quite strong and toxic. Better to burn them outside so you don't breathe in too much smoke. Stand around the fire away from a stream of wind.
- Check your local laws on burning trash on your property. Some places prohibit burning garbage, or limit what you can burn.
Method 2 of 2: Recycle Floppy Disks
Step 1. Send your disks to a recycling service specifically for floppy disks
There are services that can extract the data from floppy disks and send it back to you and then recycle it. Or, if you don't need the information on the discs, they will just destroy it and then recycle the disc. Some of these services will even pay you to send them your floppy disks.
Most floppy disks can be reused. Many government programs still use floppy disks. The others are mostly sold for art projects
Step 2. Find an e-waste recycling facility in your area
Electronic devices contain parts that can be dangerous to the environment if you throw them away. Find e-Steward Certified Recyclers to find out where you can dispose of floppy disks.
Only dispose of floppy disks if you are sure they do not contain any sensitive or important information
Step 3. Convert the floppy disks into a DIY project
If you like to do DIY work, try repurposing your old floppy disks in a new accessory, like a watch. You can also use a glue gun to join 5 floppy disks into a mini planter or pen. Or poke holes in two floppy disks, cut some paper to size, and spiral-bound it to make a notebook.