There are a few removable harddrive type drives, with the most successful one being the Iomega Jaz. Originally in a 1GigaByte size, it is now available in 2GigaByte. It is normally found as an internal or external SCSI drive. It is fast and effectively operates like a harddrive. These devices are found extensively in graphics houses and design houses, where the ability to keep all of a project on one disk which can be moved around to different users for work and modification is an important advantage. For most users, a second harddrive is probably the more cost effective option unless you work in one of the fields where the Jaz is a default media. Once again this is an Iomega device and the same advice that held true for the Zip is true here. Download the tools or drivers if you want them and make sure you get TIP. There are a few other drives of this type, from Syquest and Orb. I personally have no experience with them.
PC Card drives, Iomega Click
Want a small harddrive for using with your notebook? IBM has a new hard drive that is the size of a quarter, and the Iomega Click is about the size of a nickel. There are also PC card harddrives available that are up to 1 gigabyte in size. Talk about an easy way to do a backup of your laptop!
With all the devices we have discussed so far, they basically use hard drive technology. That means that they develop bad sectors and get fragmented just like a harddrive! Make use of your maintenance tools on these devices to maximize the life of the media.
There are Optical storage disks available in 128 MB and other sizes. Before the widespread adoption of CDR technology, these devices were sold to those who needed archival storage. The media is still available, although it is fairly expensive. But with the advent of the CDR and CDRW, they are really obsolescent.
The common optical storage options today are the CDR (Compact Disk Recordable) and CDRW (Compact Disk ReWritable). What that basically means is that with a CDR, you can “burn” data to a CD and it is there permanently. With a CDRW, you can reuse the disks. To learn more about the technology and how to do it, take a look at our two “burning” tutorials. Burners are available in IDE, SCSI (internal and external), USB and parallel port versions. The faster the transfer rate, the better, so I prefer SCSI, but many people have reported great results with IDE burners.
What are the advantages of burners? Well, since almost every computer today has a CD player, you can share anything you put on a CD very easily. In addition, with CDRs, the media is extraordinarily cheap (to the tune of about $1 for 650 MB of storage). And it is archival. CDs are unaffected by magnetic or electrical fields. As long as they are not scratched, broken or melted, they are readable, today or 100 years from now. CDRWs provide the additional benefit of reusable media (although CDRW disks are much more expensive), and they can use CDR disks as well. Depending on how much you want to spend on your drive, a burner is probably the best choice for removable storage today. The disadvantages? Using a burner is not as easy as the other devices we discussed which are basically used like a floppy or harddrive. Burning CDs is its own process, requiring its own software. It is not as difficult as it sounds, though, as you can find out for yourself in our CD burning tutorial.
I hope this tutorial has helped you to get an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of the major removable storage options available today. I happen to own an LS120, three Zips, a Jaz and a Plextor CDR drive, and each is superb in its own way. For general use as a backup device, and for sharing files, the CDR or CDRW are probably the best choice today for most users, although if you share a lot of files, the Zip may be worthwhile.
– Al –