Iomega Jaz Drive Still a Viable Backup Solution – Part 2 – Installation

Last week I was finally able to install the Jaz 2Gb drive at our office. The installation went without a hitch. I installed the Adaptec 2930 SCSI card in the PC, and at startup Windows recognized it and loaded a driver for it. Next I shutdown, connected the Jaz drive and booted up. Sure I could have hot plugged the Jaz drive in, but I’m a little nervous about such things since I damaged a PC by plugging a serial cable in while it was running (static electricity? who knows). The Jaz came up fine; I had Iomega Tools installed from the Zip 250 drive that I removed so the software even put a nice Jaz icon next to the drive in My Computer.

One thing I’ve always hated about the Jaz is that Iomega formatted the disks as FAT. Now granted the Jaz came out either before or right when FAT32 had just debuted, so this is not a surprise. Unfortunately, Iomega Tools replaces the normal format right-click menu command with its own which does not give you a choice as to which file system to use when formatting a disk. So I popped in the first disk, fired up the Disk Management console, verified the file system was FAT, then formatted it as FAT32. I formatted 2 more disks this way, but on the fourth disk I noticed it was already FAT32. The next two were the same. I looked at the disk cases and their model number was 10597. The other disks that were FAT formatted were model 10599. The first batch I acquired in a 3-pack, the others as part of a group of 10. Anyway, I thought this was interesting – maybe Iomega finally decided to format the disks as FAT32.

The only other problem I ran across was while inserting the Jaz disks. The disks need to be fully inserted to work properly. While testing my batch of 10 disks previously and while checking the current disks, I did not fully insert 1 disk at each time. When this happens, you can here the drive trying to spin up the disk but it cannot. The only thing I could do was turn off the drive then turn it back on. I was then able to eject the disk and reinsert it without further troubles. When the disks are fully inserted into the original green Jaz 2 GB drive (which I am using here), the disks actually go in farther than the lip off the insertion area. They are not flush with the front like the 1 GB Jaz disks are in the 1 GB Jaz drive.

So with the drive fully installed, I preceded to do a test backup. The batch file I use to copy the files from particular folders needed no changes and worked perfectly. So with that, I consider this a successful project with cost savings over the Rev solution mentioned in part 1, even with the extra disks and drives I purchased. With the amount of data currently being backed up, I figure I have at least 3 years until the Jaz 2 GB disks approach full. This is perfectly acceptable, giving me one less headache for a few years.

Iomega Jaz Drive Still a Viable Backup Solution – Part 1.5 – Interesting eBay Events

Well now I’ve just about received all of the parts for my Jaz Drive solution. Just waiting on a batch of disks to arrive. A few interesting things happened during the acquisition stage of this project:

As mentioned previously, I bought a USB to SCSI adapter thinking this would make it easier to connect the Jaz to a PC since it would eliminate the need for a SCSI controller card. Going generic may have been part of my problem here. But I figured why pay $60-70 for a brand name adapter if I could get one for around $20 with shipping? Here is the adapter in question (I bought mine from DigiGear).

Now, the adapter does work, but I had a little trouble with it initially. I connected it to both one of the Jaz 2GB drives and an external SCSI CD-ROM drive, and although both showed up in device manager, they both said there was a problem with the device and would not work. Now I know I set the Jaz drive to auto and on with termination and the CD-ROM drive was set to on. Ultimately I was able to make the adapter work with my Jaz 1GB drive; I checked its termination, which was set to off. So termination may have been a factor here. During the troubleshooting stage I thought I needed a driver. I found out the driver for a Microtech International USB to SCSI adapter works for this one, but it only has drivers for Windows 98 and 2000. I did test it in Windows 98 successfully, though. I found the driver on here. The only thing that really bugged me was when I found out the adapter was USB 1.1. I looked back at the auction and could not find any mention of this fact there. Although I’m not sorry I bought the adapter, I don’t think I’ll use it with the Jaz drive because of speed issues.

Second issue I faced, and the reason why I have not received all of my items yet, is I had my first ever problem with a seller on eBay. His eBay id is johannas2 and he looked ok because he had about 1600 positives and only a few negatives. Unfortunately the negatives started rising while I was waiting for my disks to arrive. I had purchased 3 Jaz disks from him and paid immediately for them via Paypal. I waited about 2 weeks and sent him an email since I had not received the items yet. After waiting 3 more days without a response, I sent another email requesting information on the items. After 3 weeks and 2 emails, i figured I’d ask for a refund since it was obvious he wasn’t going to ship the items. Luckily, he promptly responded and refunded my money via Paypal.

Last issue was the final purchase of disks I am currently waiting on. A guy had 50 Jaz disks for sale at $9.95 each Buy It Now or Make an Offer. The shipping listed at the top of the auction was $12.95, so I figured 5 disks plus shipping would be about $63. Then I decided to check out the Make an Offer, which I had never used before. It says a person can make an offer at any price and the seller has to respond within 48 hours if he agrees to the offer. If so, the person making the offer has won the auction at the offer price (plus shipping and any other fees) and must pay according to the seller’s listing. Since this might only set me back a couple of days, I figured it was worth it. Since he was selling 50 disks, I thought he might go for $5 per disk if I said I’d buy 10 disks, still thinking this would put me at the same price as 5 @ $9.95. A few hours later, the seller ok’d the offer, and I thought I just scored another good deal (my other good deal will be mentioned shortly). Unfortunately, when I went to pay for the items, I noticed the shipping was about $66. Thinking there must be a mistake, I asked the seller to confirm the price (which he did later), but meanwhile, I looked at the auction again to see if I’d missed something. Sure enough, at the bottom of the auction, the shipping said $12.95 first item, $5.95 each additional item. Funny that the seller didn’t mention this at the beginning of the auction. Even though I thought this was just a little sneaky on his part, I made the purchase happy that I still bought the disks @ about $11.60 per disk. The lesson here is read the fine print or at least thoroughly check for all shipping and other fees throughout the entire auction listing.

Now, I don’t want anybody to think this ordeal totally stunk, because it did have some good turns as well. The first (and only) Jaz 2GB drive I planned on purchasing came with free shipping and a free Adaptec SCSI card if I did Buy It Now (which I did) for $75. Considering some of the shipping people charge to make a product look like it costs less than it does (as mentioned previously), I thought this wasn’t a bad deal.

Now the super deal I scored was on an auction for 3 Jaz 2GB drives (government surplus) going for $9.95 plus $27 shipping (there’s those shipping charges again). I had previously bid on another lot from the seller (Myers Computers) but lost at $62. The only bad thing about these auctions was that the product was not guaranteed even though these drives were NIB (new in box). But I figured (correctly) these drives had been sitting on a shelf somewhere and would be fine. So when another similar auction from the seller came up, I watched it, coming on just a few minutes before closing. I was shocked to see no one had bid on the auction yet. I waited until about a minute left, hitting refresh to see the price. Refresh was taking a while, so it was very tense. On the last refresh, I almost hit refresh again because so much time was passing, but finally I saw 18 seconds left and no bids. I entered something (maybe $60) and bid asap. Well, I came through with the only winning bid, getting this incredible deal at $9.95 plus $27 shipping for a whopping total of $36.95 for 3 brand new Jaz 2GB drives!! Needless to say I was pleased with this, even more so since they all work. I figure, worst case, I have some spares and, since I now will have 13 total disks, can put another drive in service at another office sometime down the road.

Hopefully, with these disks arriving in the next day or so, I will be able to setup the drive within a week and can report on the final stage of this saga.

Iomega Jaz Drive Still a Viable Backup Solution – Part 1

I found myself in a bit of a backup quandary recently after one of my office’s backup media became maxed out. We are using an Iomega Zip 250 with a daily 6 disk rotation for backups. That has worked fine until the staff began scanning a lot of documents. Now that 250 MB isn’t quite big enough anymore. So I had to decide what backup solution to change to.

I’ve setup Iomega Rev drives at a few offices, including one of my own. However, considering I would need to buy the USB starter version (which comes with 6 disks), I thought $500-600 a little pricey considering the office does not need near 35 GB of backup space any time soon.

A solution between these two extremes was what I was shooting for. Since I have personally used an Iomega 1 GB Jaz drive for about ten years without any problems with the drive (I had 1 of 4 disks go bad, but it was replaced under warranty), a 2 GB Jaz drive seemed a good fit. Unfortunately, these drives have not been sold new for a few years. So I decided to check eBay and found some really good deals. There are a lot of used drives and disks for sale, and even some new disks and drives available (still sealed in the box). Although it took a few auctions, I was able to acquire a new Jaz drive, 6 disks, and a SCSI to USB adapter (Jaz drives all had SCSI interfaces) for just under $200. If this works out for a few years, I think it will be a great deal.

In part 2 of this thread, I will talk about how the deployment of the drive goes.

Stay tuned.