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Big-Time Backup

Data storage expands its horizons.

Computer users who want to store large amounts of data on high-capacity removable media have many options. There are tape drives, recordable CD-ROMS (CD-R), and of course, the venerable 1.44MB floppy disk. Now there's a new kid in town: Imation Corp.'s SuperDisk. The SuperDisk may look like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill floppy, but it holds up to 120MB--the equivalent of 83 standard floppies. SuperDisk drives also read and write 1.44MB disks so the older media won't become obsolete.

Still, a disk that holds 120MB isn't all that amazing when compared to a CD-R, which can hold 650MB, or a tape cartridge, which can hold as much as 35GB. So what's all the fuss about? For starters, the cost. At the low end, tape drives generally run about $200, while a CD-R drive can cost upwards of $400. SuperDisk drives, on the other hand, retail for about $150.

The other issue is portability. The other media formats may hold lots of data, but their chunky builds make them best suited for deskbound PCs. The main selling point of SuperDisk, according to Wolfgang Schlichting, a senior research analyst with Framingham, Massachusetts-based information technology research firm International Data Corp., is the drive's relatively compact size. "Mobile applications like laptops are a very nice fit for SuperDisk drives because of space and power constraints," says Schlichting. "The data storage market for laptops has not really been tapped, so the slimline version of SuperDisk drives will do very well there."

SuperDisk drives, which were developed in conjunction with Compaq and Panasonic, are now appearing in lieu of 1.44MB drives in Compaq, NEC and Gateway 2000 laptops and PCs.

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This article was originally published in the May 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Big-Time Backup.

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