A Zip drive is a small, portable disk drive used primarily for backing up and archiving personal computer files. The trademarked Zip drive was developed and is sold by Iomega Corporation. Zip drives and disks come in two sizes. The 100 megabyte size actually holds 100,431,872 bytes of data or the equivalent of 70 floppy diskettes. There is also a 250 megabyte drive and disk. The Iomega Zip drive comes with a software utility that lets you copy the entire contents of your hard drive to one or more Zip disks.
In addition to data backup, Iomega suggests these additional uses: Archiving old e-mail or other files you don't use any more but may want to access someday, Storing unusually large files, such as graphic images that you need infrequently, Exchanging large files with someone, Putting [spam] system on another computer, perhaps a portable computer and Keeping certain files separate from files on your hard disk (for example, personal finance files)
The Zip drive can be purchased in either a parallel or a Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) version. In the parallel version, a printer can be chained off the Zip drive so that both can be plugged into your computer's parallel port.
Streamers have always been considered very special hardware. The first desktop models were attached to either the floppy controller or to a SCSI controller. With the increase of hard drive capacities and the incredible success of the CD, most home users cannot even remember the existence of the good old backup-hardware called streamer. Streamers do not have the flexibility and portability advantages mentioned above. The tape is usually written sequentially, which makes it more time-consuming to access files, since you would have to manually forward the tape to the location on the desired data. However, this inconvenience is normally not an issue with streamers, because they are typically used to backup and transfer large quantities of data in their entirety, not individual parts of data. Generally, streamer tapes have a large storage capacity, so that huge backups can run unattended, which is a definite advantage over CD-Rs as a backup medium. For example, if you had to backup 3 GB of data onto CD-Rest, you would have to change the CD five times.