Sony External Floppy, Zip and Jaz Drives

How to Add Storage to Your Computer

Nobody ever has enough storage on their computer. Your hard drive isn't big enough and it never has been, no matter how big it is. Luckily, there are ways around the problem.

Why an External Floppy Drive?

There are two ways to mount a drive on your computer; either on the inside or the outside. Internal mounts are very common and used to be the standard for floppy disks. Floppy drives were standard in many computers for decades. One advantage they had was that you could boot from a floppy disk drive if you had a problem with your system, or if you needed a specific boot configuration for a DOS game. The traditional 3.5-inch floppy stored 1.44 MB of data. There were two ways to connect floppy disks:

  • Internal: The internal drive used its own connector and was able to directly access the lowest levels of your system.
  • External: Most Sony external floppy disks rely on USB, making them easy to move from computer to computer. They were more commonly for data access than as a boot method, although it is possible to boot from USB.

What Other Kinds of Drive Are There?

As the same time that Sony external USB floppy drives were becoming common, there were a number of attempts to create larger format external drives. While some used interfaces such as SCSI and FireWire, many of these alternatives also ended up connecting to the humble USB port. Two of the better known alternatives were the Zip and Jaz drive.

  • Zip: Originally offering 100 MB of storage, later increased to 250 and even 750 MB, the Zip had the advantage of being almost the same size as a standard floppy. While popular for a while as they were among the largest removable media when first introduced they eventually fell into disuse.
  • Jaz: The Jaz took capacity to a new level with 1 and 2 GB cartridges; appearing to Windows as a removable HDD. The technology was interesting, but in the end did not prove compelling.

What Happened?

All these formats eventually fell by the wayside for a couple of reasons. One was capacity; once hard drives reached capacities of tens or even hundreds of GB, even the largest such media became irrelevant. CDRs also helped kill these formats as they took advantage of the existing CD-ROM ecosystem rather than requiring the use of an additional device. Smaller capacity disk drives went first, thanks to the spread of the USB flash drive. Why bother with a diskette that needed a drive when you could just plug a stick into a USB port and be done with it?