A Review of Iomega’s Mini and Micro-Mini Drives

With their combination of portability, relatively large amounts of storage space and ease of use, USB drives (known also as jump drives, pin drives, flash drives, key drives, etc.) are quickly taking over the personal data storage market. Floppy disk drives are all but obsolete, and while CD and DVD-Rs are less expensive than USB drives, they cannot compare for portability, manipulability and ease of use of the USB drive. Iomega’s offerings of the Mini and Micro-Mini drives are somewhat more expensive than similarly sized competitors, averaging at about $70 and $50 respectively for 128Mb and 64Mb, but have the advantage of the Iomega Active Disk technology.

Iomega Active Disk Technology

Iomega has been a name in computer backup for years, and with their introduction into the USB drive market they have produced an excellent feature that few other similar drives can offer: Active Disk.

While USB drives can move your data from one computer to the next with ease, one often has problems using files you have stored because the proper program to run them is not on the computer you are currently using. Or the software is different from your machine, and you have to reconfigure it to your own specifications, which takes time and energy better spent elsewhere.

With Iomega’s Active Disk technology, you can install basic applications on your USB drive itself and be able to run them from the drive. This means that no matter what computer you are on, you will be able to access and use your files with software that is already programmed into your USB drive. This is a great boon to computer users who are transferring their data to different computers on a regular basis but always need to be able to manipulate their files.

The one drawback to the Active Disk technology is the fact that these programs must take up space on the storage disk. Keep this in mind if you intend to utilize this technology on your own Micro-Mini or Mini Drive.

Iomega’s web site offers a suite of basic Active Disk applications which are available for free for any users of their USB drives. Active Disk also works with Iomega’s Zip drives.

Other USB drives have similar capabilities, using a more standard technology known as U3. U3 software can work on U3 compliant USB drives, but the Active Disk is specifically tailored to Iomega devices, making the software more easily compatible and assured to work, rather than having to work with a number of different types of drives.

Iomega Mini and Micro-Mini Drives

Both the Mini and the Micro-Mini drives offered by Iomega support this Active Disk technology. They also both have great cross-platform capability, being able to work on both Windows and Macintosh machines. They also both use USB 2.0, allowing read and write speeds of up to 7 Mb/s (if your computer has USB 2.0 ports, they slows down to about 1 Mb on USB 1.1 ports).

The primary difference between the Mini and the Micro-Mini drives is the size. While the Mini Drive is about the size of the average USB drive you will come across, the Micro-Mini is one of the smallest USB drives on the market, just a little bit larger than the size of your thumbnail.

If you are looking for the tiniest USB drive the market has to offer, then the Micro-Mini is definitely a good choice for you. However, this smaller size will cost you. For one thing, the maximum size of a Micro-Mini drive is only 64 Mb (although Iomega plans to enlarge this in the future). Compare this to the Mini drive which has sizes ranging up to 1 Gb. The Micro-Mini also runs about 30 cents more expensive per megabyte of space than the already somewhat expensive Iomega Mini drive.

The Micro-Mini’s thumbnail shape can also get in your way at times, particularly in front-loading USB ports. While not always the case, these types of ports, often almost hidden behind parts of the computer (and always difficult to reach), cannot be used by the Micro-Mini drive. However, no computers use these as their sole USB ports and so users should always be able to find ports that they can utilize their drives with.

Despite that, both the Mini and the Micro-Mini are good, functional drives, well designed both in terms of usability and looks. The biggest drawback is the expense, however if you are a person who feels they can really benefit from their Active Disk programs, then the drive will be worth the extra cost.

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