Tech@Work: Running Out of Disk Space?

Don’t throw out your hard drive. Compress your data.

March 1, 1999

As you computerize your business, you may begin to have a problem with real estate.

I’m not talking about your business or living space. In computer parlance, “real estate” refers to storage capacity, or more simply, how much hard drive space your system has.

As you start putting your photographs, contacts, and documents on your computer, you’ll need to address three questions:

  1. What do you do when your hard drive runs out of space?
  2. Do you have a system to back up important computer files conveniently and reliably?
  3. How can you share that database or file with colleagues when the files exceed the capacity of a floppy disk?

The answer to all three questions: super portable storage devices, such as ZIP drives and SuperDisks.

What’s so great about compression?

The ZIP and the SuperDisk drives can store 100MB and 120MB of data, respectively, on a special, single, removable disk. A traditional 3.5 in. floppy stores just 1.44MB.

That means a ZIP or a SuperDisk can hold roughly 70 to 83 times the amount of data that a standard floppy can.

These drives can be installed on desk-top computers. But what marks them as “hot technology” is that you can buy portable units for notebook computers, too. Portable means the drives are as small as 4 inches by 6 inches and as light as 11 ounces.

Both drives help you move data much faster. For example, I used my portable ZIPdrive to move 95.7MB of data from my hard drive in just 1 minute and 55 seconds. To do the same thing with standard floppies would have taken a whopping 67 disks and hours of my time.

What to buy

The ZIP and the SuperDisk are available for just about any computer configuration. Prices run between $90 and $200, depending on what you need, with internal units for desktops being the least expensive, and PC card portable units for the notebook market costing the most.

Each ZIP (100Mg) disk holds 100MB of data and costs roughly $6 to $7 dollars. ZIP drives have been around longer and have a much greater market share. So if you intend to share files with other people, you should probably stick with a ZIP.

On the other hand, SuperDisksrepresent the latest generation of compression technology. They cost about $10 apiece but hold 20MB more data than ZIP disks.

They can read and write to the standard 1.44 floppy, too. In fact, some notebook computers (Twinhead, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Gateway, Toshiba) now come with the SuperDisk drive (as an installable option) instead of the old-fashioned floppy. If you don’t need to share data or disks, SuperDisk is an excellent choice.

You can buy SuperDisk and ZIP drives just about anywhere (CompUSA or any other computer store), either as external units or as internal units for desktop computers.

In addition to instructing GRI programs, Stephen Canale has spoken at hundreds of seminars in 45 states, covering subjects relating to real estate sales and technology. For more information on his products, newsletter, and seminars, visit

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