External SCSI storage comes in the form of removable cartridge drives.
These drives allow you to store data on high-capacity disks that can be used as archives or be shared used with other computers.
You should consider adding a removable cartridge drive
to your computer if you want to cheaply and relatively painlessly expand your computer's
storage capacity, or if you need to move large files between two computers that are not
A removable cartridge drive is a good storage solution if you find that your hard drive is too small, or if you want to bring home large files from work or school.
Most removable cartridge are available in both parallel port and SCSI external configurations.
Parallel port drives are generally easier to connect to the computer, because they are attached directly to the computer's printer port and require no special hardware configuration.
SCSI drives are usually faster than parallel port drives; they can copy, retrieve, and save data more quickly.
However, they require that a SCSI controller, a relatively uncommon component, be installed inside the computer.
A SCSI controller must be purchased separately, making the overall cost of SCSI drives greater in general.
There are many different SCSI removable cartridge drives available.
Each has a unique type of media, and almost none can use media from another drive.
There is very little variation among different makes of drives in terms of features;
each package comes with the drive and one cartridge containing utility programs.
However, each drive has advantages and disadvantages in terms of speed, capacity, cost, and popularity.
All SCSI drives are fast enough that speed should not be a major concern; most people would not notice a difference between different drives.
However, if you want a particularly fast drive, look for comparatively low access speeds (usually expressed in milliseconds) and high data transfer speeds.
Because new drives are always entering the market, this information is best obtained through computer periodicals.
The capacity of the drive's media should be a major consideration.
If you want to use your drive to backup your hard drive, a drive with media of about one gigabyte would probably be most suitable.
If you want to use your drive to move files between computers, on the other hand, a drive with media only a fraction as large in capacity would probably be quite adequate.
The cost of the drive and the cost of the media usually depend on the capacity of the media.
Drives with media of higher capacity tend to be more expensive, as do their media, but their "per megabyte" cost tends to be lower as more cartridges are purchased.
Removable cartridge drives range in price from approximately $100 to $300.
Media cost as little as $15 each and as much as $100 each.
The popularity of the drive (i.e. how widely it's used) should only be considered if you need to share files with other computers.
If you are going to use the drive only to make backups or store archives with one computer, you can choose the drive that best fits your needs regardless of its popularity.
Conversely, if you need a drive for home so that you can take files to and from work, look for a drive that is already being used at work.
It takes about 45 minutes to install a SCSI removable cartridge drive. No tools are needed.
Click here for a list of links to SCSI removable storage drive manufacturers.
- If you want to use your drive along with other SCSI devices that are already installed, and there is a SCSI diagnostics program installed on your computer (such as Adaptec SCSI Interrogator), use the program to find out the SCSI IDs of your devices.
Write down these IDs, because when you connect the drive you will need to make sure that it has a different ID than each of your other devices.
- Make sure that your computer is turned off.
- If you want to use your drive along with other SCSI devices, you will need to daisychain all of the devices together and attach one end of the chain to the computer.
Please refer to step 6 of the SCSI controller installation instructions.
- If the drive is your only SCSI device, attach one end of a SCSI cable to the drive and the other end to the external port of your SCSI controller on the back of the computer.
- Turn on the drive, and then start up your computer.
You can insert the included cartridge either before or after restarting the computer.
- Windows should identify the drive as a removable cartridge drive and assign it a drive letter such as D: or E:.
To make sure of this, double click on My Computer.
You should see your new drive listed along with your hard drive and floppy drive.
Note: Most SCSI-equipped computers are Macintoshes. Therefore, the cartridge may be
Mac formatted. In this case, Windows should still recognize the drive when you start up the computer, and you should still see the drive listed in My Computer, but you
will not be able to access any data on the cartridge. You will have to reformat the
cartridge with the FAT16 filing system so that Windows can read it. Please see the later
steps for further instructions.
- Click on the Start button, move the cursor to Settings, and then click on Control Panel.
Double click on the System icon. Click on the Device Manager tab, and expand the Disk Drives category.
There should be an entry for your newly installed removable cartridge drive.
If there is no entry, or if the entry has a yellow circle with an exclamation mark next to it, your scanner is not configured properly or there is a hardware conflict of some sort.
Consult the manual that came with your drive and/or use the Windows Troubleshooting Guide to resolve the problem.
To access the Troubleshooting Guide, click on the Start button, then click on Help.
Troubleshooting should be listed in the table of contents.
- Install any drivers or utilities that came with the drive. They should be mentioned
in the drive's installation manual, and should reside either on the included cartridge
or on separate floppy disks. If the drivers or utilities are on the cartridge and the
cartridge is Mac formatted, you will have to download them from the manufacturer's web
site. However, because Windows has built-in support for removable cartridge drives,
it is not absolutely critical that the manufacturer's drivers or utilities be
- If the cartridge must be reformatted, use either the manufacturer's included formatting
utility or Windows' built-in formatting utility. While it is probably best to use the manufacturer's
formatting utility because it is specifically designed for the drive, ignore any claims
the manufacturer might make about it indicating that it can format the cartridge while
retaining any data on it; this is not possible!
To use Windows' formatting utility, double-click My Computer, and click on your new drive.
Make sure the cartridge is in the drive.
Click on File and then Format, and follow the directions on the screen.
- Click on the Start button, click on Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools, and then ScanDisk.
Click on your new drive from the menu at the top, and click on the Thorough radio button under "Type of test".
After making sure the cartridge is in the drive, click on Start.
ScanDisk should report that there are no errors on the disk of any sort.
If there are errors, your disk is of questionable integrity and may be physically damaged;
any data that you put on the disk may be in danger of corruption.
If this is the case, you should check the drive's documentation for the manufacturer's warranty
and refund policies, and consider whether you want to replace the cartridge.
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