Published Works,  Technology Column

Tech 43

March 20, 1998

As one to advise regular backups for every computer I wanted a high-tech tool to do the same for myself. But what? My first trip to the computer hardware store had me grunting like some Tim Allen comedy routine. 230 megabyte cartridge – eew! Seven gigabyte external tape drive – uggah!  Of course that was before I tried installing this stuff.

The first attempt was a SyQuest 230MB EZ Flyer. I picked that one because you can hook it up without installing extra hardware. (More on this in a moment) Just run a cable from where your printer attaches to the back of your computer and you’re in business! Well – perhaps YOU would be in business – I couldn’t get the thing to work at all. There is installation software on the special cartridge which my computer refused to notice. On the return trip I exchanged the not so EZ Flyer for a Iomega Ditto Max. Up to 7 Gigabytes of compressed storage on a single tape cartridge! Uggh!

Apparently in order to get Windows 95 to recognize an external storage device like the Ditto Max on an older computer like mine, you either need special permission from Bill Gates – or an updated BIOS file. In other words, it’s possible but way more work that I wanted to put in to it. Eew. So I trudged down to exchange the Ditto Max for an Iomega external ZIP drive. For that particular device you need to add a SCSI (pronounced “scuzzi”) card inside your computer. “O.K. – I’ve added RAM chips myself – this can’t be so bad” I thought. The catch: to add a SCSI card you need a PCI slot. That’s a receptacle in most newer computers which allows you to add hardware later on. My computer has none. Uggh! So for now – and until I break down and buy an even slightly newer computer – it’s back to the old reliable floppy disk. Eew.