After using a Zip drive for many months, I am happy to
report that it has exceeded my desires as an inexpensive,
reliable, "super floppy."
There are now several flavors of the Zip; the
classical variants are: a parallel port (mine), an
internal SCSI, an external SCSI and an internal IDE.
Recently announced is the premium-priced Zip Plus; it has
a power switch and the ability to run as a parallel port
device or as a SCSI device (with a card). SCSI units
offer the best speed; however, for those who lack SCSI on
their system the IDE or parallel port are the least
The parallel port unit offsets (in my mind) the lack
of speed with convenience; merely attach it to a
computer's parallel port, install a single driver (GUEST.EXE)
and "do it." For those loathe to open the
system unit or who have a portable this is easy. EPP/ECP
parallel port equipped computers can implement an
accelerator to speed data transfer.
The unit is light. Road warriors can obtain a smaller,
lighter, power supply or a rechargeable battery. If you
need to take work home; carry a Zip disk with data - not
a portable - and work on your home machine.
Why a Zip? In these days of program bloat try to use a
floppy for programs (even some data or graphics files).
Backups of an operating system are possible - more
convenient than 70+ floppies and easier for a novice than
tape. The supplied software utilities offer 1-step backup/restore,
disk-to-disk copy, an application mover, a program
cataloguer to speed retrieval and (some versions) a file
synchronizer. Norton Utilities version 3 will implement
an automatic boot disk creator utility (emergency boot
disk) using a Zip.
Yes, there are other choices: Syquest's Easy Flyer has
more capacity but is less readily available. The Shark is
more compact, requires no external power supply and has
greater capacity but is more expensive. the Imation LS120
is more expensive. The cartridges for any of these are
significantly more expensive than the Zip's (individually
about $17 Cdn and less in quantity) and less widely
distributed. The remainder of the offerings in removable
storage are primarily high capacity devices (most hold
500+ MB) that are not in the same market: either capacity
Recently, Blue Sky Innovations (Check them out at: http://www.blueskyinnovations.com)
has offered ZppA and ZpA software that allows using the
drive as a boot device (time-limited, trial versions are
on the club BBS); other utilities present the Zip as a
fixed hard drive to allow running recalcitrant
applications from it.
Yes, time marches on and Zip will be replaced;
however, given the installed base (over 6 million and
counting) I expect that it will "hang tough"
for many years.
Disclaimer: The author has no interest, financial
or otherwise, directly or indirectly, in this company or
Originally published: February, 1998