Ian's Rant 05 – Files Too Big for Floppy Disks

Floppy disk

Ian has a go at Microsoft for an obvious omission in operating systems.

Operating Systems Limitations

Operating systems like Windows have come a long way since they were introduced so many years ago. They have had every imaginable feature crammed into them, yet they still lack one key function that – to me – should be a fundamental feature of an operating system: Splitting a big file over several low capacity disks.

You know the problem. You have a word processor document or a scanned photo that you want to copy to another computer. Pop in a floppy disk, fire up Windows Explorer, copy the file to drive A:, everything whirrs away nicely, then a message appears saying: "Not enough disk space". Ouch!

This doesn't just apply to floppy disks. With files getting bigger all the time, those higher capacity disks like Zip disks and LS-120 disks, plus new technology like memory keys, all suffer this same drawback.

For one thing, Windows could have had the courtesy to inform you of the lack of space before spending the minute or so trying to overfill the disk. More importantly, instead of balking at any file that's too big for a single disk, why couldn't Windows split such files over several disks? All compression programs have this ability.

It should be an inbuilt feature of the copy-to-disk procedure that you are prompted for additional disks if there is insufficient space. Similarly, copying a file from a set of disks should prompt for the remaining disks to rebuild the original file. Spanning of data files over multiple media should be a core function.

C'mon, Microsoft, this isn't brain surgery!

– Ian Fieggen, 2002

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