Working with Other Removable Media Drives

Quite a few other data storage options are available. Table 24.1 summarizes several of them.

Table 24.1. Removable Media Drive Options for Modern Macs




USB Flash


Various USB flash devices are available. These small devices, usually attached to a keychain or other portable item, plug in to a USB port, and you can store data on them. They offer various storage capacities and behave like other volumes you mount on your desktop. If you need to "carry" data with you among various computers, these devices can be a great option.


FireWire, External SCSI, External

Uses dual-sided DVD-RAM discs that can store up to 5.2GB of data. These discs cost about $20 each. This is a good choice as a backup drive on which you can also store working files.

At one point, Apple included DVD-RAM as an option on new machines but has abandoned this option in favor of CD-RW and DVD-R drives. This is a technology that seemed promising in the beginning but has been abandoned.


USB, External

The good old floppy is still around. These drives enable you to read and write standard 3.5'' floppy disks. Some also enable you to read and write to 120MB "super" floppy disks. With the rise of CD-RW and USB flash, there isn't really any reason to keep using this technology. Apple long ago abandoned it; the PC world is finally letting go of it as well.


ATA, Internal FireWire, External USB, External SCSI, External

The Zip drive uses a 250MB or 100MB removable disk that costs about $12 per disk. At one point, Zip drives were extremely popular and were standard equipment on Power Macs.

However, with the rise of the CD-RW and DVD-R drives, there isn't really any reason to use a Zip drive. Because a CD-R disc is only about $0.25 and holds nearly as much as three Zip disks, CD-R makes much more sense for most purposes. The rapid fall of Zip drives from a once-prominent place was amazing to see.


SCSI, External

Jaz drives use a 2GB disk. However, a 2GB disk costs more than $100, so this technology can't compete very well with DVD-R (for which a 4.7GB disc costs less than $5) or CD-R for general data storage.

This is another format that was extremely popular for a while, but has since gone the way of all obsolete technologies.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Life