I last wrote about removable storage products in my iMac article a couple of months ago.  It’s time for a quick update.

Since that time, there have been some new Iomega products and other developments to talk about.  Before I do, I want you to know that I have still not experienced any problems with my Zip or Jaz products.

With a variety of removable storage products available, Iomega’s Zip and Jaz continue to gain in popularity.  While the SuperDisk from iMation and HiFD from Sony both allow standard floppies to be used in their drives in addition to the high capacity disks each use, they are very slow to read and write.  A new higher speed version of SuperDisk is expected in the near future, As much as I would like to report that Castlewood Systems’s ORB has been delivered, it has not.  Promised for two years, the ORB is still promised soon.  SyQuest, of course, is gone.  When the higher speed SuperDisk is released, I’ll report on it here.

In the meantime, I don’t miss the absence of a floppy drive on my iMac.  I either email small files to myself from other computers and receive them on the iMac, or, I use my new USB Zip drive.  USB is really cool, and so very simple.  Once the software was loaded from the included CD, I simply plugged in the USB Zip (in translucent blue, of course), and it works.  I have equipped my other desktop computers with Zip drives or I use the external version of the Zip to connect to either Mac or PC.

If I need to be elsewhere and use my Zip, and the other location does not have Zip, I take mine.  The supplied Iomega software includes a little application called Iomega Guest that installs on the other machine.  With the Zip attached, I launch the Guest software and then the attached Zip drive is recognized and shows up on the computer desktop as another hard drive.

What about on PCs?  Is there “Guest” or how does it work on the universal model?

Zip has proven indispensable and now I couldn’t be without it.  Sometimes I need more, though.  For data backups and transfers of larger files than the standard 100MB Zip there are newer options.  Iomega has recently introduced a 250MB version of the venerable Zip drive and I’ve been testing one with great success.

The 250MB Zip is available for Macs (SCSI only) and PCs with SCSI and Parallel connections.  There is no universal version and no USB version, yet.  The new drive is aesthetically pleasing with a zippy (I had to say it) new industrial design, and it’s faster than the original.    The Zip 250 is backward compatible with all 100MB Zip disks.  The new drives cost $199 and the 250MB disks cost about $20 for a single and as low as $16.65 in six-packs.  Overall, it’s a good deal and a great way to maintain compatibility with existing Zip media while affording additional storage capacity for whatever it is you need.  Here’s an important reminder; you can create a bootable Zip disk to start your computer in the event the internal hard drive hiccups and won’t cooperate.  Do what I do and create and set aside a Zip disk for this purpose.  I keep one with the basic operating system and essential backed up files so I’ll never be down for long in a pinch.

If you need more capacity, you can step up to Iomega’s Jaz, now with 2GB capacity.  The original 1GB models are no longer being produced, but the 2GB drives can use all the 1GB disks.  Like the 250MB Zip drives, the 2GB Jaz drives are faster than their predecessors.  Nothing (currently) beats the 2GB Jaz for versatility.  I can use a couple of Jaz disks to temporarily back up my essential stuff without worry.  It’s hard to run out of space with 2GB of storage on each disk.  The Jaz portability make for unbeatable versatility.  PCs need a SCSI card to attach the Jaz, or an adapter for the Parallel port on a PC.  The Parallel port on PCs is really slow, so be prepared to wait while masses of data are transferred.

I’m totally satisfied with the 2GB Jaz performance and, well, the capacity is a godsend.  Some may ask why, with the falling prices of hard drives, I wouldn’t simply invest about $200 for a multi-GB external hard drive?  First, the storage capacity on a hard drive is fixed.  Fill it up and that’s it.  Then what will you do with all that data?  With Jaz, and Zip for that matter, just add discs for unlimited storage capacity.  Second, external drives on non-SCSI PCs are not as easy to connect as on SCSI-equipped Macs.  Third, new Macs and an increasing number of PCs are equipped with USB and/or FireWire (another cool, new high-speed data transfer method developed by Apple and appearing on Macs and PCs).  With all these choices and possibilities, unless your needs relate to only one type of connection and only one type of computer, and that won’t change, you’re better off with the versatility of Zip or Jaz.

For me, for now, I’ll stick with the proven and reliable Zip and Jaz from Iomega. When something better comes along, I’ll let you know.

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