Tag Archives: zip disks

Media Recognition Guide – Iomega Zip Disks


Removable disk storage




Yes, but used by minority



Either 100, 250 or 750MB


Zip drive needs to be of a matching or higher capacity than the Zip disk. Supports Windows OS, IBM OS/2, Mac OS 7.6 to 9.2, MAC OS X and some Linux OS.


Small businesses and personal users to backup files

File Systems:

NTFS, FAT, ext2, HFS/+, ADFS

Common manufacturers:



The Zip disk was introduced by Iomega in 1994 as a medium capacity removable storage device to rival 3.5” floppy disks. There are three versions with capacities of 100, 250 and 750 MB, which is considerably more than a 3.5” floppy disk, and Zip disks have a quicker data transfer rate: 1 MB/s compared with a HD 3.5” floppy disk’s rate of 15.6 KB/s. However, Zip disks never reached the same popularity as floppy disks and could not compete with other forms of removable storage, such as CDs which offer much larger capacities. Therefore sales declined and use is limited at the time of writing [2010], though zip drives and disks are still available for purchase from online retailers.

Zip disks are physically similar to floppy disks, except they are larger and not quite rectangular. Their dimensions are 97 x 98 x 6mm compared to 3.5” floppy disk dimensions of 90 x 94 x 3mm.

Zip drives are more compact than floppy drives. Dimensions vary, but are around 170 x 110 x 25mm, although drives with a SCSI interface are larger, measuring 193 x 139 x 44mm. Drives are external and attached to a computer via an interface, either PATA, SCSI, USB or FireWire. Very early drives had an IDE interface (the forerunner to PATA), but these are not common. Not every interface can be found on each type of Zip drive. Below is a table setting out which interface is compatible with each drive:







Zip 100





Zip 250





Zip 750





High Level Formatting

Zip disks use the same file systems as floppy disks, with the most common being FAT for use with Windows, HFS or HFS+ for use with Mac OS and ext2 for use with Linux. Many disks come preformatted, but can still be reformatted by the user to suit their operating system.

Formatting with Windows

This is done in the same way as formatting floppy disks: with the disk inserted in the drive open ‘My Computer’, right click over the Zip disk drive icon and select ‘Format’. There are two options; either ‘Short Format’ or ‘Long Format’ and you can change the file system used with either option by selecting either Mac or PC. Click ‘Start’ and the disk will be formatted.

Formatting with Mac OS

Insert the disk into the zip drive. Open the IomegaWare folder then open the ‘Tools’ folder and double click on the Tools icon, which will open up the window. From here click on the appropriate icon for the disk you wish to format. There are two options, either ‘Short Erase’ or ‘Long Erase’. Long Erase should be used for disks containing errors. Select ‘Erase’ to begin formatting the disk. All content will be erased and the disk will be formatted to a file system appropriate for Mac OS (HFS/+).

Formatting with Linux

Formatting a zip disk using Linux is done in the same way as formatting floppy disks, the difference being you type man zip instead of man floppy. For more details see: http://linux.die.net/man/8/floppy

-Victoria Sloyan