The advent of high capacity flash memory and external drives really put an end to the Zip disk technology. However, there are still many people holding onto their old readers, and consequently in need of data recovery services. This post goes through their file recovery options.
Starting with mechanical recovery of damaged disks, the Zip disk format was a lot better at keeping out dust (enclosed casing) and more rigid so generally suffers less from damage. However, this durability also makes it more difficult to affect repairs yourself for problems such as loose components or mild water damage.
Software recovery of data is thankfully possible though the number of applications to choose from is dwindling. Regular PC repair software will not work with a Zip disk due to the proprietary file system format that is used (i.e. it is not FAT-32 based).
For the applications that do exist, it should be possible however to retrieve files that have been deleted/formatted from a disk even if you have not done a proper backup of your files and folders. The results can vary and the list of found files will diminish over time as the disk is used (the original files are overwritten by newly saved files).
Other problems to consider relate to the reading devices being used. As these are also aging, they become prone to faults. If you wish to recover files from a disk then test using a different Zip reader (if available). Also try reading a different disk, just to check the device is or isn’t working properly.
If you do suspect the read-write heads are damaged/misaligned, that a power surge had affected components or there is contamination in the disk/reader then seek professional help to retrieve your data.
Zip disk services and products are becoming less prominent, and less supported so you should ideally backup all data on these formats to protect yourself from the technology eventually disappearing.
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