Oh, disks definitely die and fail, for sure. Interestingly, my C64 5.25 disks seem much less prone to death than the Amiga 3.5's. But even then, over 95% of my Amiga disks (and drives) work beautifully. I think everyone's mileage varies greatly depending on several variables, including:
- Weather/Climate Control. Humidity? Hot/cold attic storage? Cool, dry place for 25 years (good to go), etc.
- Were they shipped to various locations, including across major oceans? How many times? For example, my personal anecdotal experience receiving items from Australia, and even the UK, is basically the flip of a coin. I never buy disks from the UK or Australia anymore. I'm in the USA, and I think something about that travel just ruins things for some reason. Or, all those folks are shady! I'm joking.
- How often were they used in their lifetimes?
One thing about old floppy disks that is very true in 2020: they are very good for saving personal data securely (with backups). Why? Because 99.9% of the entire world population moved on over well over 15-20 years ago. CDs are nearly there, too. Only us weirdos still know how to use them and have the means to do so!
I have a friend who considered keeping his block-chain key on a C128 disk. Hah!
As of 5 years ago (and apparently still?) even the US Air Force nuclear silos kept their commands on 8" disks.
Last year, a broadcast of 60 Minutes surprised many viewers with the discovery that 8-inch floppy disks were still the preferred method of removable storage for the computers in a U.S. Air Force nuclear silo. That report indicated that changes were in the pipeline, but the security of this outmoded technology was difficult to replicate with modern materials.
Speaking to a representative of the United States Air Force Global Strike Command, I found that this was still the case some 18 months since that report initially aired. “The floppy disks and associated technology are tried and true,” I was told. “As you can imagine, we want to ensure the utmost in reliability and efficacy when operating such a critical weapon system. Therefore, if a system is ‘old,’ but still reliable, we are inclined to use it.”
-- Digital Trends
That's what I'm saying. Long live the floppy disk!