As we know floppies are barely used in last 20 years - somehow from time when cheap CD readers and writers arrived. Especially in last 5-8 years when new PC motherboards have no floppy controllers, so PCs are without practically useless drives too.
Of course, with retro machines it is different, but it seems that not that much, and there is less and less floppy usage gradually. Main reason would be low reliability of drives and now old disks - which aren't manufactured anymore. Prices of new medias are low, so economic factor is important too.So, the main question here is: is it wise at all now to force preservation of floppies in form of faithful images, which can be written on other floppies including copy protections, non-standard formats and like ?
I write this in forum where surely this is most discussed and supported way of preservation. Although, count of people involved is not big. Of course, not much people own some of those devices like SCP, Kryoflux. And even not much people own lot of original SW. I really have no clue is number of active Atari ST and compatibles users changing, how is with aging machines ?
What see is that there is intention to share images by most. But there are some strange groups, persons who talk about copyrights and restrictions. What is by me just pathetic and really nonsense. WEB is full with images of DOS games, floppy versions, which are usually of later release date than some Atari ST game. And they have usually no copy protection - main complicator of whole preservation.
Things are that this are last years, probably last decade of floppy usage. And not only that. Machines are already too old, and need lot of fixing. And that will be just worse. So, the future is indeed in emulators - HW emulators like HxC floppy emulator, and even better FPGA clones like MIST. SW emulators too, but that's not much interesting here because they already use images.
Important is that none of it uses floppy disks and drives, contrary - some replace then (as weakest part). So, my point is that we should focus on that type of preservation. It is nice thing what SCP and Kryoflux, then older devices like DC could achieve, but that simply has no future. +, I'm sure that many people were never interested in making/having exact copies of originals. Will not go here in reasons - that was discussed several times. Just general question: must we consider as preservation only faithful strict copy of original floppy ? Answer can be yes. But then, it will be soon only for museums and SPS (Software Preservation Society). Average users, who want to play little on their oldies or HW clones want something cheap, reliable. And here we are at not exact copies. Some may say cracks. I don't like that word. I removed lot of protections, maybe most from all Atari people (although in easier way - most using Steem Debugger), but that was not to show my cracking skills and sending messages to copy protection makers, not to sell pirate SW and like. Only to make it usable with different media, to make it replicable, faster loading, less floppies and like. While doing it, I discovered lot of poor coding, even bugs, so there are fixes in many cases. Plus some trainers - funny thing is that there is some people talking against it - like it is mandatory to use optional trainers
In case of some mainly floppy oriented machine, as Atari ST it is still good to have some level of floppy support. Even if it can work well without it if there is some mass storage. Here I mean not using HW floppy emulator too. In last couple years I attach floppy drives barely - only for testing some floppy release - like this here: http://atari.8bitchip.info/ASTGA/P/potswco.php
That is great late Atari ST game, less known. Lot of time is spent on hard disk version, so I decided to use it and do floppy version too.
It has benefits over original: 1 floppy only - nothing is missing except unnecessary floppy swap request pictures. Selectable start level and unlimited lives options. And it is really welcome, believe me - game is pretty hard.
In any case, I really don't see why someone should play it from Pasti image instead that 'spiced' release. Unless thinks that it is more safe way. But it is tested completely. Too bad that it is not case with most of hard disk adaptations.
I prepare new Floppy Image Runner concept - where images will be not in RAM, but stored on special partition of Flash card. That has some nice benefits: less RAM needed, while speed will be still very good, possible to make very large floppy images - up to 32MB - imagine that then can put some 7 floppy SW on single image, so no need for floppy/image swaps. And will need not extra RAM in most cases - in other words RAM usage will be same as with floppies. despite using mass storage.
Finally, some thoughts about people making copies of own original floppies, even if it is available online. There may be some logic - they paid for it, and in most countries is legal to make it, but for me it is waste of time and risk to produce not flawless image. Only way is to share it, using shared - then we can filter out bad images much more efficient.
I hope that hosting problems will be resolved soon. SW support seems fine, and Pasti is again alive