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The Right Medium For the Right Job
There are dozens of different removable media devices on the market. The trick is to get the right one to fit your needs. Tape drives are still a cost-effective way of backing up large amounts of data, if you can deal with slow backups and only need to retrieve the data occasionally. Recordable CDs are much faster and more durable than tape, but can only be written once. However, they can be read by any computer with an ordinary CD-ROM drive. Newer drives from SyQuest and Iomega are faster still, rewritable, and hold around 100MB of data. If speed is what you need, the Iomega Jaz Drive is nearly as fast as a hard drive, and each cartridge holds 1GB of data. The most important thing is to identify your needs; there's sure to be a device that fits most if not all of them.
Maintain a Happy Medium
Even removable disks need to be defragmented periodically, assuming that they are rewritable. They are also prone to the same errors that hard disks are. Fortunately, you can use familiar tools because Windows 95's built-in defrag-ment and ScanDisk utilities work on removable drives.
You can compress removable disks and diskettes using DriveSpace or other compression utilities, just like a hard disk. If you'll only be using the disks in machines that have the compression app installed, it may be the way to go.
Several companies make external removable media drives in both parallel port and SCSI configurations. Unless you plan to move your drive around, SCSI is the way to go; SCSI devices will always be faster, because the bandwidth is higher than what the parallel port can pump through. Since all machines have parallel ports and not all have SCSI adapters, parallel insures compatibility.
Add It Up
When purchasing any removable media device, don't forget to consider the price of the media in addition to the initial price of the device itself. For example, if you were to buy a $400 drive with 10 $100 cartridges that hold 1GB each, you would spend $1,400 total and have 10GB of storage. However, if you bought a $500 drive and 8 cartridges at 1.3GB each for the same price, you would wind up with 10.4GB of storage for only $1,300.