Handy 2G Jaz is realistic size for today's PC storage tasks

Handy 2G Jaz is realistic size for today's PC storage tasks

Ultra SCSI removable-media drive is a bargain at $350 but won't do if your data is irreplaceable

By Joel Sparks

Special to GCN

Although the long-lived floppy disk is on its way out, there are still ways to move files from computer to computer via sneakernet.

Internet storage such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iDisk [GCN, June 5, Page 33] is an alternative; however, uploading and downloading large files can be time-consuming, and anything stored on the Internet is generally less secure than on a disk under your control.

Everybody's favorite floppy replacement, the 100M Iomega Zip drive, isn't what it used to be now that graphics and multimedia files are mushrooming. Iomega Corp.'s 2G Jaz drive, originally issued at 1G capacity, remains backward-compatible with existing 1G Jaz disks.

For perspective, remember that each 4- by 4- by 1/2-inch Jaz disk can store as much as 1,400 double-density floppies.

The Apple System
Profiler shows the IDs of removable-media devices.

On a Macintosh, the standard interfaces are SCSI and Universal Serial Bus. I tested an external 2G Jaz drive on the SCSI chain of a 266-MHz PowerPC G3 running Mac OS 9.0.4. Iomega sells a USB-to-SCSI adapter separately.

For comparison purposes, I timed file storage on the 2G Jaz, the G3's own 6G hard drive and an external 100M Zip drive installed on the same SCSI chain.

The Jaz has a standard 50-pin Ultra SCSI connector and comes with a cable to adapt to the Mac's larger connectors. On a SCSI chain, every device must have a unique identifier, and the device at the end of the chain must be terminated.

Pick a number

Unlike the Zip drive, the Jaz has a range of SCSI identification numbers from zero to seven, plus a power switch. Like the Zip, it has a termination switch. Use the Apple System Profiler to check the IDs.

After wiring everything, I installed the software. The Jaz came with a CD-ROM of four Iomega utility programs plus a few indispensable system files.

The Iomega Drive Options screen makes it easy to select among devices.

The Iomega driver extension and the Iomega Drive Options control panel should be installed even though all recent Mac systems come with some Iomega software. These files support all Iomega drives connected to a Mac.

Two of the utilities have their own system extensions: QuikSync, which automatically copies the contents of a specific folder to an Iomega disk; and FindIt, Iomega's utility for cataloging files on multiple removable disks.

Both utilities are potentially helpful, but users who prefer to do their own backup and organization will want to disable both extensions.

The Copy Machine utility eases the work of duplicating a Zip or Jaz disk when only one drive is available. The RecordIt application helps put sound files onto Iomega disks, including copying tracks from CDs; there's a copyright warning in the help file. But RecordIt's interface is muddy, and it offers nothing that other sound utilities don't already do better.

Box Score

Jaz 2G

High-capacity Ultra SCSI

removable-media storage

Iomega Corp.; Roy, Utah;

tel. 801-332-1000; www.iomega.com

Price: $350; $50 rebate for external drive until Sept. 30; 2G disks $125 each or three for $300

+ Generous size at reasonable cost

+ Hand for transporting large files

' Not appropriate for irreplaceable data

Real-life requirements:

Win9x, NT or Win 2000, or Mac OS 8.1 or higher version; Pentium processor or Power Mac with SCSI connection; 30M of free storage; 2X or faster CD-ROM drive for installation

The Jaz performed well in my tests. Small files copied a little faster than with the Zip and almost as fast as on the hard drive. For large files, the Jaz couldn't match the hard drive's performance but was much faster than the Zip. A 10M file took a little less than eight seconds to write and a little more than eight seconds to read, compared with less than three seconds for the hard drive. The same file took more than 12 seconds to copy to the 100M Zip.

A 500M file took nearly six minutes to copy to the Jaz vs. two minutes on the hard drive. The Zip, of course, couldn't hold such a big file.

The size of a 2G removable disk is valuable all by itself. Network administrators, for example, can make Jaz backups, system disks or master installation disks. A Jaz disk is a good place to put a disk image of a CD-ROM. Unlike many CD and DVD drives, the Jaz can be set to avoid spindowns, the slowing or stopping of the disk, while running time-sensitive applications.

Be aware, however, that removable media will not last forever. Some users have reported that the drives and disks give out suddenly without warning. Keep an additional backup if data is irreplaceable.

Physically, the Jaz drive is not the ideal floppy substitute for notebook computer users on the go. Measuring a little less than 9 inches by 5 inches by 1.5 inches, it's small enough for a briefcase and not heavy, but it will operate only on a flat, level surface, and it requires a separate, in-line power brick.

As for money considerations, a Jaz drive costs about 18 cents per megabyte plus about 6 cents per megabyte for the media'quite a bargain compared with floppy storage.

Joel Sparks, a free-lance reviewer in Silver Spring, Md., has been a government lawyer and database programmer.


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