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MS Office Doesn't Like
To Work on Floppy Disks

by Ken Fermoyle

Problems I have been asked about often in recent months concerns Microsoft Office. The difficulties occur in all versions of Office, with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets most often involved. Symptoms vary, from obscure error messages to total system lock-up.

Investigating the complaints and checking several sources, including the Woody's Office Watch newsletter, I found the answer to the problems. In all cases, users were trying to work with a document/worksheet stored on a floppy disk.

Even if it seems that there is plenty of room left on the floppy disk, there probably is not enough. Word and Excel often write a temporary file in the same location as the original file. That temporary file can quickly fill the available space on a 1.44MB floppy disk.

Ideally, and if Microsoft programmers were more thoughtful, you world get an easy-to-understand "Out of Disk Space" message, but no such luck! Instead, you get all sorts of strange actions and/or messages that give you no clue to the true problem.

Floppy disks also are generally less reliable and more prone to failure than hard drives. You're more likely to lose a document through mechanical failure of a floppy disk (or simply to lose it). Floppy disk drives are much slower than hard drives and Office programs run more slowly as a result.

The solution: Always copy a document supplied on floppy disk (after the obligatory anti-virus scan) to a temporary location on your hard drive. Work on the document from there and when you're finished, copy the revised file back to the floppy disk. Voila, no more problems!

Last Update:06/26/2007

 

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