Using a ZIP Drive with an Apple IIGS

The ZIP drive by Iomega Corporation, maker of Bernoulli drives, is a small, removeable SCSI drive unit that uses 3.5" cartridges (well, more like 3.6") in 25 MB and 100 MB densities. The drive comes in two models, a SCSI model for use with PCs or Macs (or Apple IIGS's, as we have now found) or a Parallel port model for use with PCs. The unit is quite small, only 7 by 5.5 by 1.75 inches, has a termination switch and a SCSI ID selector switch (it can only be set to ID 5 or 6), and dual 25 pin SCSI ports. There is no power switch on the unit, which draws power from a very bulky power block. The ZIP drive can be laid flat or stood horizontally (there are rubber feet attached for this) The front has an eject button and dual LEDs, a green one to indicate power on and an amber one to indicate disk access. The unit sells for $199.00 in most of the Macintosh mail-order catalogs like MacMall, MacWarehouse or MacConnection, and the media cost about $19.95 for the 100 MB cartridges (less if you buy 5 packs) and $9.95 for the 25 MB cartridges. However, at the present time, the cartridges (except for the 100 Mb cartridge that ships with the unit) are seriously back-ordered.

I tried out a ZIP drive with two Apple IIGS configurations. Both were ROM 01 GS's with 4.25MB of RAM, hard drives and Apple CD-ROM drives. Computer #1 has a TransWarp GS accelerator and an Apple HighSpeed SCSI card, and Computer #2 has a RamFAST SCSI card with 256K cache.

On the first GS, I started up with my Hard Drive at SCSI ID set to 6, the ZIP drive set to 5 and the CD-ROM drive set to 0. The ZIP disk was the last drive in the SCSI chain and was terminated. Once in Finder, the drive mounted (the cartridge was a 100 MB disk with HFS formatting), but I twice got a message saying that with the installed file system translators the device could not be read. I was given the choice to initialize or eject. I twice chose eject, and the drive remained mounted. I was able to copy to and from the ZIP disk with no problems.

I ejected the ZIP disk (dragging the disk to the trash unmounted it but did not eject the disk...I had to do that manually) and started up GS ShrinkIt to decompress a file...but with the ZIP disk ejected, I was unable to navigate disks and partitions in the open file dialog box. Inserting the ZIP disk solved the problem.

I then connected the ZIP drive to my PowerBook 170 and turned FileSharing on. I went to AppleShare in the Control Panels NDA on my IIGS and linked with the PowerBook, and mounted the ZIP disk on the IIGS worked like a charm, and I was able to open the first part of this review, which I had exported from WordPerfect 3.1 in RTF format, in EGOed 2.0.

Next, I hooked up the ZIP drive to my RamFAST equipped IIGS. This procdure took a little more time, although this was not all due to the RamFAST. As owners of a RamFAST probably know, when you add or subtract a device from the SCSI chain, the RamFAST Utilities are presented upon booting up so that you can add the disk/partitions to the cards "map" of volumes. It will be worth your time to get the manual out if you don't do it very often. The problem for me came in the area of SCSI ID's. The ZIP drive, as a cost-cutting measure I suppose, only has two ID's selectable, 5 or 6. Since the computer boots from the highest numbered SCSI device, that means that your IIGS hard drive needs a SCSI ID of 6 or 7. Mine, of course, were numbered 1 and 3, so I had to dig out a manual to reconfigure the DIP switches on my old CMS drive and set it to 6. My other drive is even older, and you need to open the unit up to change its SCSI ID, which I wasn't about to do at 12:30 am! After doing that, I finally managed to get the ZIP disk mounted on the desktop, and from there it was treated like any other disk...except that it was a large one. In fact, I opened this review from the cartridge in the ZIP drive in EGOed 2.0 to finish typing this segment.When I was through using the disk, I dragged it to the the trash to dismount it, and it popped right out of the drive. Inserting it back in made it appear on the desktop again.

Just how cost effective is this drive? Well, for the initial investment of $199.00, you get a 100 megabyte hard drive. For less than $100.00 you can add 5 cartridges and now have 600 MB of disk space...which can grow along with your storage needs. These may even work out well with IIe's, especially if using the 25 MB cartridges, which could be formatted as single ProDOS volume. So as backup, or even as a second, expandable hard drive, this seems to be a worthwhile investment. It is not as sturdy as a hard drive, however, with its plastic case, and I would not recommend it for use around young children who might decide to play with it. It may be sturdy enough, but it certainly doesn't have the steel case that my hard drives do.But so far I am quite pleased with the drive, and am glad to have it as part of my "arsenal" of peripherals for my IIGS.

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