Drive Identification

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Drive Identification

The capability of saving your data in one location and bringing it to another location is a luxury that can be taken for granted - that is, until you don't have it.

Some of the drives that you will run in to at Free Geek we will discuss here. While much of this technology is obsolete, there are still enthusiasts out there who love this technology, and from time to time we will get an odd request for these devices.

The way that we have stored our electronic data over the years has changed a lot - from paper to tape to 8" Floppy disks to DVDs. In this lesson we would like you to familiarize yourself with these forms of data storage and the jargon that is related to them.

Some of the more common drives that you will see are listed below.

  • 5 1/4 Floppy drive (5 1/2" wide)
  • 3 1/2 Floppy drive (3 1/2" wide)
  • Tape drives
  • Zip drive (3 1/2" wide)
  • CD drive
  • CD R/RW drive (can be no speed listed, "high speed", "ultra speed" or actual speed numbers)
  • DVD drive
  • DVD R/RW drive

Notes about drives

  • None of the drives listed above are hard drives.
  • All DVD and CD drives are called optical drives and are 5 1/4".
  • Optical drives are usually labeled on their face by logo Compact Disc or DVD. It will be written underneath if they can record or rewrite (R/RW) or to the right side of the logo if they are high speed or ultra speed,


  • Non-optical drives are either 5 1/4" or 3 1/2".


Check out the drives in Lesson Box D and identify the types of CD and DVD drives from the front, especially whether they are recordable and/or rewritable. Also locate where the High Speed and Ultra Speed designations are placed. For each optical drive, place the appropriate label(s) on top of it.


  • CD ROM (read only memory)
  • CD Recordable/Rewritable
  • CD Rewritable & High Speed
  • CD Rewritable with speed numbers i.e. 16x10x40x
  • DVD Rom + CD Rewritable & Ultra Speed
  • DVD R/RW + CD R/RW
  • Combo drive is a CD writer + DVD ROM
  • ZIP drive
  • Floppy drive 5.25" and disc for it
  • DAT Tape Drive and example of a backup tape