Story 2014-05-19 3M4 The worst storage media of all time

The worst storage media of all time

in storage on (#3M4)
story imagePersonally, I was a big fan of Zip Drives back in the day when 56K dial-up was fast and our Macs came in bright, candy colors . But Zip Drives sure take a beating in this article.

The topic is the worst storage mediums [sic] of all time and it's hosted by ExtremeTech. Zip Drives take some abuse, as does reel to reel tape, but there are some surprises too. Not surprisingly, the article concludes on a sense of optimism, in this glorious age where everything you produce can be safely and securely stored in your butt .
Reply 16 comments

Zip wasn't that bad (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-19 13:25 (#1QQ)

I was an early adopter of Zip drives. They weren't terrible devices, although they did have problems, largely stemming - I think - from quality control issues down the line. They gained a bad reputation because of this but in most cases Zip drives were quite decent.

Of course, looking back we wonder how we ever managed. Putting aside the reliability issues, Zip's now-laughable 1MB/s transfer rate, 100MB storage and price of $10/disk seem too slow, too small and far, far too expensive. But it has to be remembered that - when released - most computers had hard-drives measuring in only hundreds of megabytes, and the primary method of data-transfer was still floppy disks. CD-ROM burners cost thousands of dollars and flash-drives were just a gleam in some mad inventor's eye. As a replacement for the notoriously unreliable 1.44" floppy drive, the Zip drive was a god-send. Even when CD-burners started coming into the market, Zip retained its usefulness; for a long time, it was faster to write to Zip than to optical, and it had the advantage in that you could erase and re-write to the media as many times as needed. But Zip was never really designed to compete with optical; it was intended as a replacement for the floppy and - in my eyes - it served its purpose admirably.

Eventually I too gave up my Zip drives (just as I gave up cassette tapes, floppies and CD-Rs); technology marched on and better alternatives became available. But I still look fondly on my little blue drives.

Re: Zip wasn't that bad (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-19 13:32 (#1QR)

That's an interesting comment. I have a fondness for them too, sort of, but for no really well-justified reason. That was back when IOMEGA was a pretty darned good company, making good things. I've still got a CD burner from IOMEGA that is well made, solid, durable, and doing a great job burning CDs (quietly and reliably) and it's about 10 years old now! I later bought a DVD burner from another company and the thing is flimsy, loud, and cheap-feeling. I was kind of sad when IOMEGA pulled the plug. Or did they get bought out by somebody? I forget now.

Anyway, that's the thing about the zipdrives too. Those zip disks were much more solid-feeling than the 3.5" floppy disks that they helped retire. Solid little things. I was writing a book at the time and used a zip drive to do a daily backup of the manuscript. The whole thing fit perfectly on one zip, which I stored offsite.

Re: Zip wasn't that bad (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-19 20:36 (#1RK)

Hey, I saw the new Godzilla movie and Walter White's collection of Zip disks survived an earthquake, an EMP, a nuclear meltdown, and 15 years of neglect in an evacuation zone!

Because, you know, everything you see in movies is absolutely correct.

Re: Zip wasn't that bad (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-20 10:53 (#1SB)

When zip drives were a thing, floppies were pretty reliable. It's only more recently they got very unreliable (in around 2001-2002, it was pretty common for floppies to work for a single use only). Older drives are still fine, I have a Tektronix digital storage scope with a floppy drive (and I keep a computer with a floppy drive around), and if I ever need to transfer a screen grab off the scope the drive always works, and captures I grabbed 3 or 4 years ago are still perfectly readable using the older 3.5in drive in the computer.

I think you meant (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-19 13:42 (#1QS)

stored in MY butt, no?

Re: I think you meant (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-19 14:12 (#1QT)

Thanks, thought you'd never ask! Let me just get the truck ...

Re: I think you meant (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-19 18:29 (#1RD)

My butt is like a series of tubes? Yikes.

In my experience - Sinclair/ZX Microdrives (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-19 21:01 (#1RM)

One single continuous piece of tape, no spool, all zig-zaggy inside the case, that was quite literally shoved back into the cartridge as fast as it was being tugged out. 85KB capacity, IIRC. Innards of the drives visible here: . Although initially developed for the BT Merlin and the Sinclail QL, I had one on my ZX Spectrum as I splashed out on Interface 1.

Dire is the only word for them.

However, the drives were significantly lighter than the 40kg unit which I used to read these:

Re: In my experience - Sinclair/ZX Microdrives (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-19 22:59 (#1RP)

Is that your own photo? If so, it's brilliant. Slashdot in the background is the icing on the cake.

Re: In my experience - Sinclair/ZX Microdrives (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-20 09:19 (#1S6)

I would have taken a new photo with pipedot in the background, but that would have required me going to one corner of the room to pick up the box of floppies, another corner of the room to get my camera, and all kinds of hard work like that. Ain't noone got time for that shit!

Re: In my experience - Sinclair/ZX Microdrives (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-20 10:55 (#1SC)

I had a Rotronix Wafadrive. It wasn't any better than the microdrive. Most the carts seemed to fail after about half a dozen uses.

I bought a second hand QL at a fair (for £5) in the late 1980s, and the microdrives on it were actually surprisingly reliable and I never had a cartridge fail on that machine.

Cassette tapes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-20 03:12 (#1RZ)

The audio fidelity noticeably deteriorated within a dozen playbacks, and the tape frequently snarled or snapped, often winding itself around the playback mech so you'd have a nice little task extracting the now-worthless tape from your cassette player so you could throw it out and play something else.
The only thing they were good for was for Sony Walkman's, which was the signature device of the Yuppie era (as in, "damn, I think I left my Walkman at the sushi bar...")

IBM Deathstars (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-20 14:06 (#1SM)

ZIP were pretty reliable (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-21 15:54 (#1TK)

...JAZZ (the 1GB version) on the other hand, not really. But if you want crappy storage, besides the 2.88Mb 3.5" floppy disks, I'd recommend the plethora of magneto-optical drives and media. The media itself wasn't as crappy as the drives, that tended to last a year or so.