PC Doctor April 24, 2015.

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Dear PC Doctor:
       My husband found a stack of old computer disks.  Some are 3.5 inch floppies, some are 5.25 inch floppies, and some are those zip disks that we thought were going to be so great.  We’re not sure what’s on them.  Whatever it is, it’s something we thought was important enough to back up.  The computer we have now has a DVD drive, but no place to stick a floppy or a zip disk.  Is there a way to see what’s on them before we throw them out?  If we want what’s on them, can we save the files another way?
        Thanks, Ronnie
Dear Ronnie:
       Great question!  The answer to everything is ‘yes!’ 
        The easiest way to see what’s on those disks is to use an external drive that you can plug into one of your computer’s USB ports.  You mentioned three different kinds of disks.  That would necessitate 3 different drives, as each has only one kind of slot for inserting media.  There’s good and bad news.  A very quick survey of prices indicates that you can get an external floppy drive for under $15, but an external zip drive looks to typically cost more than $75.  (You may find better prices if you do a little more shopping around.)  In my travels, I haven’t come across an external drive for the 5.25 inch floppies.  You can still buy a drive but you’ll need to install it on your computer rather than just plugging it into one of your USB ports.  You might also find a computer repair shop that would be willing to help you learn what’s on the disks.
        The good news regarding the 3.5 inch floppies and the zip disks is that the Athol Public Library has an external floppy drive and an external zip drive that you may check out with your library card and use in-house, either on your laptop or on a library computer.  There’s no fee.  Dependent upon what programs created the files on the disks and how big they are, you ought to be able to see the contents and save them on your computer or a flash drive.
Until next time… Happy Computing!
       PC Doctor