NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Adding Zip To My PC
by Bob Frye - April 97

As a 486/66 owner who hasn't upgraded his hard drive storage, disk space management is a constant issue. When I upgraded to Windows 95 and 32-bit applications, the power gain came at the cost of larger operating system and application files. Removal and archiving utilities, such as MicroHelp's UnInstaller, have only delayed the inevitable - I needed more hard disk storage.

The solution I choose was to add an internal Zip drive. Although the cost per megabyte is higher than a fixed internal hard drive, I decided the flexibility of removable media was the better choice for me. Since most of my files, excluding applications, are typically only a few megabytes, the 100 MB class media seemed the most efficient partition size choice for the way I work. I chose Iomega's Zip drive because the disks are readily available from several vendors, which helps ensure low prices. In addition, computer manufacturers are offering Zip drives as options, which suggests this system may have a longer life span than other competing technologies. Based on magazine reviews, a SCSI interface promised to have about the same performance as my IDE hard drive.

Iomega's Zip Insider kit came with the Zip drive, an Adaptec SCSI card, cables, mounting rails, installation disk, and a Zip disk with Zip tool software. Following the clear instruction guide, installation was straight forward and took about an hour. When I upgraded to Win 95, the OS detected my legacy SCSI card, so I didn't use the kit's SCSI card. As soon as I powered my computer after hardware installation, Win 95 immediately recognized a new Removable Disk drive (this makes me two-for-two using Plug and Play to add hardware). Based on WinTune 95 benchmark tests of my computer, the SCSI Zip performs within ten percent of my IDE hard drive. I haven't noticed any performance difference when running applications directly from my Zip drive. Video files play smoothly and saving a 2 MB Excel file takes about one second more. I installed TurboTax directly to a Zip disk with a shortcut on my desktop that points to my Zip drive. I insert the Zip disk, click on the shortcut and up pops my 1040 (oh joy). I use Explorer to move, copy and delete files the same as my fixed drive.

The included Zip Tools software helps organize and manage my Zip files. The Findit utility catalogs files across all my Zip disks. I use Findit to search for specific files without having to search every disk individually. AppMover is a subset of MicroHelp's UnInstaller utility for moving applications between my hard disk, floppy disk, CD-ROM and Zip drive. I use the Copy Machine utility to make copies of my Zip disks even with only one Zip drive. One-Step Backup allows me to backup and restore all my hard drive files; a disk spanning feature automatically prompts me for additional disks when needed. I've found all these tools useful, as well as easy to use.

If you are thinking about adding additional hard disk space, I'd recommend looking at mid-sized removable media like the Zip drive as an option.

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