Friendly Expert Computer Help - In Plain English
As Seen On TechTV
PC911 > How-To > Miscellaneous > Removable Storage Options

- Al -

Download this article as a self-extracting text file
View this article in printer-friendly plain-text format
E-mail this article to a friend

What Removable Storage option is right for you?

For most computer users, at some point of another, it becomes necessary to have removable storage in excess of the floppy, maybe to back up your data on a regular basis, to move big files from your home PC to the office, or just to free up space on your hard drive. To do this, you need a medium to store the data on and remove it for portability.

Unless you are using an iMac, you already have one removable storage option available to you. Yes, the good, old floppy disk is still available to most computer users. Of course, the "old" part is a big problem, because it is actually difficult these days to find things that will fit on the (by today's standards) puny 1.44 MB of a standard floppy. So let's take a look at the main options available out there for removable storage and their advantages and disadvantages.

Super Floppies

First, we have the "Super Floppies." In terms of fairly common use, this really means two media: the Zip (in 100 MB and 250 MB size) and the LS120 Superdisk (120 MB). These are both fairly similar devices in that they both use a mixture of technologies to allow for the storage of eighty times (or more) the data of a standard floppy in basically the same size device. If your BIOS supports it, both can be set up as boot devices.

The LS120 has two advantages over the standard 100 MB Zip. One, it holds 120 MB of data, and two, it will read and write standard floppy disks. However, it is not as widespread as the Zip, so it is not as good a choice if you plan to use your removable storage device to share files. In Win9x, the addition of "Superdisk Accelerator" software helps the transfer speed by staging files to your harddrive. The LS120 is available as an internal IDE drive, an external parallel drive, or an external USB drive.

On the other hand, the Iomega Zip seems to be everywhere (at least in the 100 MB variation), making it a better choice for sharing files with your friends and neighbors. In addition, there is the added choice of the 250MB Zip (which will use 100 MB disks as well). The Zip is available as an internal IDE or SCSI drive, an external SCSI or parallel drive (with the Zip Plus actually doing both), or an external USB drive. I recommend avoiding the parallel version (they're slow), and while the SCSI Zips are the fastest, the IDE and USB are solid performers. The Zip comes with its own software, called Iomega Tools. I recommend you do NOT install the software that comes with the drive. If you want the tools, download the newest version from, but they aren't necessary in Win98. You can download just the drivers as well, and that is worth doing because it saves you a lot of disk space and resources. The 100 MB Zips and 120 MB LS120 disks cost about the same, so that isn't a major issue.

If all you need from your removable storage is a way to backup, store or share relatively small amounts of data, these devices may be the choice for you. Since they work just like floppy drives in Explorer, no training is necessary. If sharing files is a key part of what you need to do, the Zip is probably the better choice for you. If not, the LS120 has the advantage. Should you choose a Zip, go to PokPok's Goody Corner and download Steve Gibson's TIP. This program should be essential to anyone using Iomega products.

Back To Top Of Page