Thanks to friends of mine, I was able to get two working parallel-port ZIP drives from Iomega. My father used to use these during the 1990s as ZIP disks were popular in offices in Czech Republic. He later switched to an internal ZIP drive connected to IDE when his parallel-port external one died and used it for another 10 years.
I have a few systems where it is not possible to add a network controller so I though that this would be a good device for faster data transfers (compared to a null-modem cable or diskettes) or accessing data larger than the internal hard drives.
It works just fine. The only drawback is that you usually need a 486 system to leverage full speed of the external drive. My 386 laptops do not support the ECP/EPP protocols on the parallel port, so the access speed is significantly limited (150KB/s?). Anyway, it is still convenient enough for running DOS programs straight from the external drive. I am surprised how nice driver support Iomega provided for DOS and Windows 9x. There is even a “guest” driver in a form of a single exe file – just run it and you can immediately access the drive using a newly assigned drive letter.
I would like to buy 1…or more…,i used them not only for backup,but with 386 laptops,also as a HDD supplement,my 1st laptop(Siemens Nixdorf PCD3Nsx/20) had only 80MB HDD,when I had no more space left on the HDD,i just used ZIP floppies as another HDDs,on that machine they was about same fast as the HDD,i felt no difference in access times,when I used ZIP disx as another HDDs,thus running DOS or Win16 programs from them directly…& they has so beautiful sound,i miss it.In the era be4 USB flash drives ZIP drives was the best solution for backup,data transfer & HDD supplement,when U ran out of disk space…
Do you remember if it was SCSI? I would think IDE would be noticeably slower.
Parallel Port Zip Drives were much, much slower. I was told the Parallel Port Zip drives were actually identical to their SCSI drives, just with a special adapter in the interior, but only with drastic speed reductions. As described in the article, this meant only 150 kB/s, with EPP protocols: 2 MB/s, ECP: 2.5 MB/second.
I used a SCSI Zip with a Quadra 650 Macintosh in a similar way to your laptop. It was only because I could not really afford a full hard drive upgrade.
I think that the parallel port version is the only one that can be connected to PCD-3Nsx. Everything is more or less about EPP/ECP support – if you had it, the speed looks comparable to laptop HDDs of the era. If not, it is very slow.
The SCSI drives were more common in the Mac and UNIX world. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any PC with a SCSI ZIP drive.