This is ONE OF 2 responses to Vol 16 Drury 6 ("Yup, Master Controller")...
"I did hear one strange comment about the Syquest system - apparently the frequent crashes are due to environmental contaminants getting into the hard drive via the cartriges. If this is true, why don't my 800K disks crash?"
Because the read/write heads on a floppy are much farther away from the media than on a hard disk. In order to achieve high storage capacities, hard disks "float" the heads just above the media. This separation is typically so small that if a particle as large as a speck of cigarette smoke tries to get in the way, a head crash will result. Speed of rotation of the media is another contributing factor.
Floppies, being much lower density, are designed with the heads a reasonable distance from the rotating surface, and are thus less susceptible to this trouble.