Worth Keeping: Zip drives

For Stephane Robitaille of Ottawa-based Accolade Marketing Concepts Inc., meeting his clients’ demands for production and screen printing is top priority. And if one of their demands happens to be using and sharing information on Zip disks, he willingly conforms. “We need to use Zip drives as our clients and suppliers use them and it is easy for us to share files with them.”

With millions of Zip drives in use, using Zip disks as storage devices offers both buyers and service providers a standardized format to share and transport files. Thea Menagh, a graphic artist, designer and photographer who jointly runs B&T Graphic Communications/A Fitting Image with her husband in Toronto says, “We use Zip Drives as a lot of our clients do not have or use CD burners.”

Menagh, who has been using Zip drives for about six years, finds the disks handy for moving large files from one location to another. “They are especially good for people who are transporting material to show on another computer. I keep my clients’ files on them and use them to transfer data to the printers. The Zip disks are also good for getting files off my machine so that they are stored safely.”

Introduced in 1995 by Roy, Utah-based Iomega Corp., Zip drives, with their 100 MB ‘floppy’ disks became synonymous with high-density storage. Newer Zip drives boosted that capacity to 250MB and could still read and write to the older Zip disks. Today, users rate it as a relatively inexpensive and durable media for backing up hard drives and transporting large files. While Zip drives have storage capacity, it’s their ease-of-use that have made them popular. In fact, many users frequently transport their drives between the home and office.

“Zip offers a reliable, cost-effective solution,” says Robitaille. “Disks are available for only $20 and they last forever.” Menagh adds, “The disks are easy to carry, they are small, compact and they come in a good case so that we don’t need to worry about files getting corrupted. What I also like about them is that I can reuse them.”

Popular among programmers, architects and graphic designers, Zip drives are compatible with most operating systems and platforms such as Win 95, Win 98, NT, Macintosh and iMac computers. The disks can hold 100 or 250 MB of data and come with pretty much any connection you want (parallel port, serial, SCSI, USB, internal, PCMIA).

250 MB units are available for approximately $200 or lower. Refurbished models are available for less. The cost of disks varies between $15 and $20 per disk.

Despite the increasing popularity of optical drives and the higher storage capacities they offer, Stephane remains pragmatic about the future. “We will continue to use Zip drives as long as our clients use them.”

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