BACKUP DRIVES MIND THE STORE

BACKUP DRIVES MIND THE STORE<@VM>Protect your data with one of these 54 magnetic disk drives





CNF's Inner Bay Zip Drives modules for notebook PCs have 100M of capacity and a 1.4-megabytes/sec transfer rate. They range in price from $230 to $270.

Rx for lost data: Pay a little, protect a lot with a removable media drive

By J.B. Miles

Special to GCN

Lose it once and you're a veteran. Lose it twice and you're a fool.

I pasted that saying onto my PC when I lost a whole day's work because I hadn't saved it to a floppy disk.

Almost every computer user has lost a file or two'or more'from a hard drive failure, pulled-out plug or power blackout. And, of course, the most common cause of data loss is operator error'those unforgettable times when you forgot to store your work for safekeeping in a place other than on your computer's hard drive.

Singly, such events don't always lead to catastrophic data loss. But depending on how you look at it, any amount of data loss is potentially catastrophic. Working to piece together information can cost hours or days of extra work. The loss of even tiny amounts of mission-critical data can cost organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars and the responsible parties their jobs.

So, we agree'we must avoid losing data.

Using a removable media drive such as those in this buyers guide can take the sting from an otherwise foolish and costly mistake. In price, they make even more sense. You can buy a 100M Iomega Zip Drive for less than $100; $200 and up gets even you more capacity for safe storage at pennies per megabyte. Used correctly, removable media drives offer nearly complete protection against data loss.

If you are worried about data theft from vulnerable office workstations, store information to a 100M, 250M or 2G removable floppy or hard disk and put it under lock and key for safekeeping.

Besides security, convenience is another reason to use a removable media drive. Each of them offers a way to easily archive data for later retrieval and use. Just mark your disks, store them and pull them out later as needed. Some users find that large-capacity drives, such as Iomega Corp.'s Jaz 2GB drive, work almost as well as standard hard drives for primary storage.





Castlewood System's ORB drives feature 2.2G of capacity in several configurations. Each is priced at $199

If you're not the only one using your computer, a removable media drive can provide separation between your applications and someone else's. You keep your files on one set of disks; your co-workers keep theirs on others.

Keep in mind that the products listed in this guide are not to be confused with other removable media drive systems, such as magneto-optical, CD-recordable, CD-rewritable and other developing technologies such as DVD. Such removable optical drive systems offer high levels of storage capacity and are great for archiving data. But if you're a betting type of person, put your money on the success of magnetic disk removable media drives, at least for the short term.

Also, keep in mind that the removable hard drives'those with 3.5-inch magnetic fixed disks that generally connect via a desktop or notebook PC's parallel connection'aren't the same as those listed here. The drives in this guide employ easy-to-use replaceable disks that resemble slightly thicker versions of the standard 1.44M floppies they are intended to replace. Because the disks can hold between 30 and 150 times more data than a standard floppy, however, the term super floppies is rapidly coming into use.

Before you buy, know whether or not an internal or external unit is best for you. Internal Zip, Jaz, SuperDisk and other similar units are placed inside a workstation or PC and generally are linked via an IDE or SCSI connection.

Because they connect directly to a system's bus, they tend to be faster than external units. Any user who can remove a PC's backplane can install one of these with ease by using the manufacturer's setup software and carefully following directions. Advanced Technology Attachment Packet I is an internal interface in common use for connecting CD-ROM drives, tape drives and removable media drives such as the ones listed here. SCSI and SCSI-2 interfaces may also be used internally as well as externally, and are nearly as fast as ATAPI but can be more complicated to set up.

As for external units, there are a few out there that employ external SCSI connections, but most take advantage of parallel-port, PC Card or Universal Serial Bus connections.








Store this before you buy
  • Buy the largest drive you can afford.
  • Add the price of disks, estimated over two years, to the drive's purchase price.
  • Check the speeds: The lower the access time and the higher the transfer rate, the better.
  • Make sure the external drive comes with requisite cables.
  • Check the manufacturer's warranty and return policies.



Get the connection

Parallel-port connections are simple to establish, but are slower than SCSI and USB and allow no more than two devices to be connected simultaneously.
At press time, only two PC Card drives were available'Sony Electronics Inc.'s new HiFD Drive and Iomega's Clik PC Card drive. But the use of PC Card removable media systems is promising, and there will be more of them by year's end as other vendors, including Imation Enterprises Corp., add them to their product families.

USB technology promises anything-to-anything connectivity and will bring users beyond the limitations imposed by any of the other three. It is faster than parallel-port technology, less annoying to set up than SCSI, and eliminates the extra equipment involved with PC Cards.

Recent improvements in drive and compression technologies have helped boost the storage capacity of removable media drives. As with the Zip Drive, Iomega has led the pack in developing Winchester drive systems holding one gigabyte and more of storage with its Jaz 1GB and Jaz 2GB products. Though at press time the company was in bankruptcy, Syquest Technology Inc.'s Web site, at www.syqt.com, promised that its high-capacity models such as the SyJet 1.5G and Quest 4.7GB will continue to be supported by the company's technical staff.

If backwards-compatibility interests you, keep in mind that the proprietary floppy media used in some new systems can be used with older disks. Iomega's new 250M Zip drives can also read 100M Zip disks. Other products such as Imation's 120M SuperDisk series are backwards-compatible with conventional 1.44M, 3.5-inch floppy disks.'' Prices for floppy drive systems are dropping rapidly. The original 100M Zip drive cost about $200 when it came out several years ago. I bought my parallel-port version six months ago for $129; the company now offers it at $100 and it can probably be found priced at $80 on an online shopping mall or auction.

The internal version of Imation's popular SuperDisk costs $99. Caleb Technology Corp.'s new 144M Caleb Drive internal and external versions cost $79 and $99 respectively, and Sony's new 200M HiFD Drive sells for only $200. The new 2.2G ORB parallel, internal or Ultra SCSI systems by Castlewood Systems Inc. are the first to break the $400 barrier for a gigabyte-range system, at $199.

But you already know that price isn't the only consideration in choosing the right drive. Other things to think about:

Capacity. As it should be, capacity is the No. 1 consideration in choosing removable media drives. Even at $100 or less, it makes no sense to buy a 100M floppy Zip drive if your principal interest is in storing a large office application and its related files on a single disk. For holding or archiving large data files, a 1G or 2G system would be a much better choice.

<>. The overall cost of a removable media drive system is linked to its capacity. To determine a drive's total cost, factor in the price of the drive plus the price of the disks you think you'll need in order to satisfy your storage requirements. Plan for two years. If your projected storage requirements are less than a gigabyte, an inexpensive Zip or SmartDisk floppy drive, plus a set of disks for about $12 each, might be the way to go. But if your projections exceed a gigabyte, buy a larger drive.

Drive type. Remember, the technology used in each of the removable media systems in this guide is proprietary. Interoperability between drives is limited or nonexistent.








Buyers, beware
Removable media drives have many benefits, but they also come with some drawbacks:

  • The magnetic disks are vulnerable to damage from fire, dust, water and electronic interference.
  • A SCSI drive will require a SCSI adapter if you don't already have one. Buying one will add $100 to $200 to the cost of your system.
  • Parallel-port interfaces offer flexibility, but are slower than SCSI or internal EIDE connections.
  • Not all applications lend themselves easily to storage on anything except your computer's c: drive.
  • Disk interchangeability among vendors' proprietary drives may present problems.




Interfaces. Internal removable drives are installed in a computer bay with some type of caddy apparatus or carriage. External SCSI, parallel port, PC Card or USB units are generally easier to install, but keep in mind the tradeoffs mentioned above.

Speed. Drive speed is measured in a number of ways, including the rotational speed of the drive spindle, seek time, access time and sustained transfer rate.


Don't be too impressed with vendor claims of fast seek and access times. Seek time, measured in milliseconds, indicates how fast the drive head arrives at the track on the disk where the data is.


Average access time, also measured in milliseconds, is a better performance measure because it adds latency'the time it takes to find the data on the track'to seek time. It provides a more accurate estimate of how long it takes your drive to find data.

Average sustained transfer rate is the best overall performance indicator for a removable media drive. Because there is a difference between the data throughput rate on the outer tracks of a disk and its inner tracks, most makers provide both maximum and minimum values, in megabytes/sec, for data transfer rates.

The average of the two is what you're looking for and is the value listed as the transfer rate for the drives in the accompanying table.


J.B. Miles, of Pahoa, Hawaii, writes about communications and computers.























































































































































































































































































































































































































Vendor

Product

Capacity

Configuration

Interface

Transfer
rate in
megabytes/sec

Price


Addonics Technologies Corp.

Fremont, Calif.

510-438-6100

www.addonics.com

Pocket Zip

PCMCIA Zip

100M

External

PC Card or

USB

1.4


$249


USB SuperDisk

120M

External

PC Card or

USB

1.4


$228


APS Technologies

Kansas City, Mo.

816-483-6100

www.apstech.com

Zip 250

250M

External

Parallel or

SCSI

4.4


$180


SuperDisk

Parallel Port

120M

External

Parallel or

USB

0.3


$149


Jaz II

2G

External

SCSI-2

4.7


$439


Caleb Technology Corp.

Boulder, Colo.

303-786-9600

www.calebstor.com

Caleb it Drive

Internal

144M

Internal

IDE ATAPI

0.8


$79


Caleb it Drive

External

144M

External

Parallel

0.8


$99


Castlewood Systems Inc.

Pleasanton, Calif.

925-461-5500

www.

''castlewoodsystems.com

ORB Parallel

2.2G

External

Parallel

1.25


$199


ORB Internal

2.2G

Internal

EIDE

6.8


$199


ORB Ultra SCSI

2.2G

Internal or

External

Ultra SCSI

6.8


$199


ORB USB

2.2G

Internal

USB

6.8


$199


CNF Inc.

Scottsdale, Ariz.

480-348-9665

www.cnfinc.com

InnerBay Zip Drive

100M

Internal

Drive bays

for notebook

PCs

1.4


$230

to $270


Compaq Computer Corp.

Houston

281-370-0670

www.compaq.com

MultiBay SuperDisk

for Armada

7300/7700

120M

External

Parallel

0.3


$219


MultiBay SuperDisk

for Armada 1700

120M

External

Parallel

0.3


$205


MultiBay SuperDisk

3500 Mobile

Expansion Unit

120M

External

Parallel

0.3


$205


Armada 6500

MultiBay Zip Drive

120M

External

Parallel

0.3


$235


Imation Enterprises Corp.''

Oakdale, Minn.

651-704-4000

www.superdisk.com

SuperDisk

Parallel Port

120M

External

Parallel

0.3


$170


SuperDisk

Internal Drive

120M

Internal

IDE ATAPI

0.3


$99


SuperDisk

USB Drive

120M

External

USB

0.3


$170


Iomega Corp.

Roy, Utah

801-778-1000

www.iomega.com

ZIP Parallel Port Drive

100M

External

Parallel

0.8


$100


ZIP Parallel Port Drive

250M

External

Parallel

0.8


$200


External USB Zip Drive

100M

External

USB

1.2


$130


Zip SCSI Drive

100M

External

SCSI

1.4


$100


Zip SCSI Drive

250M

External

SCSI

2.4


$200


Zip 100 ATAPI

Internal Drive

100M

Internal

IDE ATAPI

1.4


$100


Zip 250 ATAPI

Internal Drive

250M

Internal

IDE ATAPI

2.4


$170


Jaz 1GB

1G

Internal

Fast SCSI-2

5.4


$280


Jaz 1GB

1G

External

Fast SCSI-2

5.4


$300


Jaz 2GB

2G

Internal

Ultra SCSI

7.4


$400


Jaz 2GB

2G

External

Ultra SCSI

7.4


$400


Clik! PC Card

Drive

40M

External

PC Card

0.6


$200


Clik! Drive Plus

40M

External

PC Card

0.6


$300


Smart Storage Solutions

Houston

800-473-0923

www.smartstoragesolutions.

''com

Smart Shuttle Zip

SSS100RMW

100M

Internal

SCSI-2

1.4


$209




Smart Shuttle Zip

SSS100RMA

100M

Internal

IDE

1.4


$149


Smart Shuttle 1.5GB

SSS1.5RMW

1.5G

Internal

Fast SCSI-2

5.6


$349


Smart Shuttle 1GB

SSS1GRMW

1G

Internal

Fast SCSI-2

5.4


$349


Sony Electronics''Inc.

San Jose, Calif.

800-352-7669

www.sel.sony.com

HiFD Drive Internal

200M

Internal

IDE ATAPI

2.2


$199


HiFD Drive External

200M

External

Parallel or

PC Card

2.4


$199


SyQuest Technology Inc.

Fremont, Calif.

510-226-4000

www.syqt.com

EZFlyer 230 MB

230M

Internal

EIDE

2.4


$149


EZFlyer 230 MB

230M

External

SCSI

2.4


$149


EZFlyer 230 MB

230M

External

Parallel

1.25


$149


SparQ 1.0GB

1G

Internal

EIDE

5.6


$199


SparQ 1.0GB

1G

External

Parallel

2


$199


SyJet 1.5G

1.5G

Internal

Fast SCSI-2

5.6


$299


SyJet 1.5G

1.5G

Internal

EIDE

5.6


$299


SyJet 1.5G

1.5G

External

Fast SCSI-2

5.6


$299


SyJet 1.5G

1.5G

External

Parallel

1


$299


Quest 4.7GB

4.7G

Internal

Ultra Wide

SCSI

7.6


$599


VST Technologies Inc.

Boston

978-263-9700

www.vsttech.com

Zip100 for

PowerBook G3

Series

100M

Internal

PowerBook

G3 bay

1.4


$230


IBM ThinkPad

770 SuperDisk

120M

Internal

ThinkPad

UltraBay

3


$220


NEC Versa Zip Drive

100M

Internal

NEC

VersaBay

1.4


$230


Winstation Systems Corp.''

Moses Lake, Wash.

509-765-7759

www.winstation.com

W0069

120M

Internal

SCSI, SCSI-2

0.4


$179


W0079

120M

External

SCSI, SCSI-2

0.4


$249


W0059

120M

Internal

IDE

0.3


$89


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