Zip Drive

What Does Zip Drive Mean?

A Zip drive is a medium-capacity and portable magnetic disk storage system launched by Iomega in the mid-1990s. It was popular at the time of launch as cost per storage unit was lower than that of hard disks, and it could store a larger amount of data than a floppy disk. The Zip drive was capable of fast data transfer and was durable and reliable. The rise of other devices that later came to market, such as USB drives, were favored over the Zip drive and Zip disk, and these became obsolete soon afterward.


Techopedia Explains Zip Drive

The Zip drive was available in 100- and 250-MB capacities. The initial versions of the drive could be connected to a computer by means of a parallel, SCSI or IDE port. The later versions had a USB interface and were thus simple to connect, being plug and play. The Zip drive was PC and Mac compatible and came with a manual and related software that provided ease-of-use features. The drive installed itself on a computer and would be assigned a new drive letter to distinguish itself from other drives. It could handle high-capacity Zip disks and had a large drive slot to fit the disks. The Zip drive also contained a retro-reflective spot for identifying the proper disk media in order to prevent damage to the disk and drive.

At the height of its popularity, the Zip drive was considered a larger version of the floppy drive and certain manufacturers included Zip drives internally in their devices. It was favored in the graphic arts vertical market and was also economical for home users at the time of launch for storing large data. Zip drives were reportedly prone to click-of-death failures, which potentially resulted in media and data loss.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.