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Memories are made of this IT storage space has come a long way since the introduction of the original 100Mb zip drive by Iomega BY RICHARD SPoHRER

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technical & practice

As sure as night follows day, no matter how much storage you are given you'll always need more. Iomega revolutionised removable storage with the introduction of the Zip drive, effectively doing away with all but the highly specialised competition. The compact 100Mb disks were a far cry from the large and unreliable 44 or 88Mb SyQuest disks prevalent up until that point.

Iomega quickly followed the success of the Zip with the 1Gb Jaz, and then 2Gb found its way onto our desktops. Now, not content to rest on its laurels, Iomega has released the 250Mb Zip drive. Available in both SCSI and parallel versions, the new drive offers users up to 250Mb of storage per disk, while still providing backward compatibility with 100Mb disks.

The new drive is housed in an organically shaped blue case, similar to the new Jaz case. Like the Zip Plus, the new unit has an on/off switch on the front, which also acts

as an eject button. The SCSI Zip 250 drive boasts a perform-

ance increase of 56 times over normal floppy drives and is as much as 1.4 times faster than external CD-ROM drives. Hardware and interface advances in Zip 250 SCSI drives also yield 50 per cent increased performance over the original Zip 100 SCSI drive when using a 250Mb disk. While you can use 100Mb disks in the unit, they do not perform that well, and you might want to hang onto your old drive. Using a 250Mb disk, average read/write time was around 0.97Mb/s, which dropped to around 0.67Mb/s when using a 100Mb disk. While this is good for removable media, it is still slow when compared to a hard drive.

The SCSI version opts for 25-pin connectors, unlike the faster connections on the Jaz drive. SCSI ID numbers are limited to five or six, as is the case with the older units, and while this is not a problem for most users, it can be a limitation. The drive can be used as a start-up device at a push, but only in an emergency.

The Zip 250 comes with a number of applications on CD that will help you get the most out of your drive. The IomegaWare package includes RecordIt software, 1-Step Backup and FindIt, as well as all the tools and drivers you will need to operate the drive. The parallel-port Zip 250 also comes with a separate CD containing Norton Zip Rescue. FindIt is an excellent search application that catalogues all the disks you put into your machine, including CDs and floppy disks as well as Zip disks. This makes finding files very quick and easy, even if they are not on your machine. RecordIt is an audio tool that can record from either a microphone or audio CD. Recording music onto a Zip disk is very simple, though why you would want to do it is a mystery.

As yet, no USB version is available, so new Mac owners will have to wait, as will those needing an internal version for laptops. Although the drive costs more than the 100Mb version, the price per Mb is better. If you are one of the few people who don't own a Zip drive, buy one of these. If you already own a Zip and create files over 100Mb, you'll probably already have a Jaz drive; if not, this is a cheap alternative.

Iomega is head and shoulders above anyone else in its field. While the 250Mb drive is no leap forward, it is a logical step in the right direction. It seems unlikely that we will see a 500Mb disk, as the physical constraints of the media would prevent this, but a larger Jaz drive may well be on the cards.

Product information:

Iomega 250Mb Zip drive

Price: £144

Contact: Iomega +44 (0)800 973194

Web: www.iomega.com

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