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USB ZIP 250 Firewire Adapter Performance Tests

Published: 6/15/2000

I suspect I'm not the only person wishing their USB ZIP 250MB drive was a bit faster. After using a SCSI or IDE ZIP drive, the performance of the USB models are a bit disappointing. If you're like me, you bought the USB version for its hot-plugging capability and convenience. VST makes firewire 250MB ZIP drives (an IDE ZIP in a firewire/IDE portable case), but the price as of June 2000 is almost $330 list; while the USB ZIP 250 is about $180. The Firewire adapter from Iomega is available for about $70 from discount retailers.

Like me, you may be wondering if the Firewire adapter for the USB ZIP 250 drive is worth the price. Robert Bergstrom sent a performance comparison of the USB ZIP 250 drive with the Firewire adapter that may help you decide. He also includes comparisons to a USB ZIP 100 drive and tests with both 250MB and 100MB disks. (Important for owners like me who have 100MB internal ZIP drives and primarily use 100MB disks for compatibility between drives).

I have been using Iomega Zip drives since their introduction many years ago. I recently purchased a Zip 250 Drive and have used it extensively for file exchange and backup. I just purchased the FireWire adapter for the Zip 250MB USB drive from for $65. Iomega promised big leaps in read/write performance with this adapter so I thought I would give it a try.

The Zip 250MB FireWire adapter connects to the Zip 250MB USB drive via the ATAPI connector on the back of the drive. Systems with 6-pin FireWire ports are capable of providing host power to the Zip 250MB USB drive via the FireWire adapter, eliminating the need for a power supply. This is great for me as I do over half of my work on my Powerbook in places where AC power is not available. It also means that desktop owners can remove one more power adapter from their computer setup. Another cool thing about this drive is that with Apple's latest Firewire Drivers, it can be used as a boot drive.

I ran the Zip 250 drive through benchmark tests with both USB and firewire interfaces using both 100 Mb and 250 Mb Zip disk media. For comparison, I have also benchmarked a translucent blue Zip 100 USB drive with a 100 Mb disk. I used ATTO Pro Tools 2.3.2 for all of these tests. My computer setup is a 400 MHz Powerbook 2000 with 384 Mb of Ram (OS 9.0.4) "

(I graphed the results of Rob's tests results in ATTO Tools-Mike)

Performance Comparison Tests

[Note that the graph backs up the fact that the 250MB drives have slower performance with 100MB disks-Mike]

"You can see that the firewire adapter more than doubles read and write speeds when 250 MB Zip disks are used. This has really made backing up and archiving data much quicker for me. The results with 100 Mb media weren't nearly as impressive with a noticeable increase in read speeds but an actual drop in write speeds. Also, in comparison the the Zip 100 USB drive, the Zip 250 Drive is a slowpoke at writing data on 100 MB disks. Perhaps Iomega will continue to improve their software drivers to improve the performance of the Zip 250 with 100 Mb media.

The firewire adapter is pretty expensive at $65 but if you frequently backup your data or use your drive for mobile applications the cost is well worth the price.

Feel free to print this letter or parts of it on your Web site! I diligently read your site and appreciate all your hard work!
Rob Bergstrom

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