5 Things We Miss About Old-School Computing

3. Software That Goes With You

Back when hard drives were expensive (and therefore rare on most PCs), the medium of choice was the floppy disk--which, depending on your operating system, could hold as little as 180KB. Without hard drives, software had to fit on floppies, meaning that applications were reasonably compact and self-contained. You could easily run your programs with your own settings on any compatible computer if you were willing to tote a few disks around. Recent innovations such as the U3 spec for USB drives are just starting to bring that capability back to modern PCs.

4. Lightning-Fast Startups

Microsoft has worked hard to keep startup times down for Windows, but let's face it: With all of the drivers, antimalware utilities, and other doodads that load into memory (do you really need that casserole-recipe widget on your desktop?), you can probably make a cup of coffee before you can do anything on your PC.

In the old days, either the operating system was built into ROM (so the computer was ready as soon as you flipped the switch) or you loaded it from a disk (which took just a few seconds).

5. A Virus? What's That?

It's not that malware didn't exist--computer viruses actually predate personal computers--but virus protection wasn't as big a concern as it is now. Running virus scans certainly took less time; since most personal computers lacked hard drives, you could guarantee that a clean floppy would stay uninfected simply by write-protecting it. In a certain sense, an inch of adhesive tape, back then, provided better protection than a battery of antimalware utilities does today.

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