The Definitive Guide To Zip Disk Data Recovery

by Rod Dunne on July 23, 2010

in Data Recovery

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Zip disk technology has become a legacy format over the past decade as the popularity and file capacity of memory sticks and external hard drives has increased.

Here, we’ll look at the Zip disk data recovery services and software that are still available for anyone needing to recover lost data from an old disk.


Back in the day, Zip disks were actually a big improvement on floppy disks. Their casing kept out a lot more moisture and dust contamination and the enclosure’s tougher plastic saved your Zip disk from accidental knocks.

That said, they are still prone to a litany of other problems: Power spikes and surges, loss of data when exposed to magnetic fields, read/write head seizure and accidental deletion/disk corruption/formatting (see our article on post format data recovery for more information).


Zip disk data recovery software does exist, although it will only work with the makers proprietary file format. This means you won’t be able to reuse this file recovery software for retrieving deleted documents on a FAT 32 based hard drive (likewise the applications used to recover hard disk data will not work on Zip disks).

The main use of Zip disk data recovery software is for getting back deleted files or data from a formatted or corrupted Zip disk. If there is a mechanical fault that stops the disk being read then you will need to resort to calling in data recovery services. See our post on deleted file recovery for more information about the process.

Data Recovery Services

For mechanical damage you will definitely have to resort to using data recovery experts. The robustness of the Zip disk enclosure means there is little in the way of manual repairs you can attempt.

Some of the sure signs of mechanical faults are when the Zip disk or reading device starts making odd sounds. A grinding noise indicates the heads/bearings have seized and a rattling noise may mean that components have detached inside the casing. In either case, do not attempt to use the disk as this could cause more damage.

If everything sounds okay, then you should also consider the fact that the reader device itself may be at fault. Try using another reader (if available) to test this out. Alternatively, try reading and writing to a different disk on your own Zip reader – if this succeeds then it is probably not the reader that is faulty.

When looking for data recovery services online, a regular PC repairs shop may not be sufficient. As Zip disks are a legacy media-type, they will need the right equipment and software to attempt a file recovery.

Most data recovery services will also offer an initial diagnosis service before quoting a final data recovery service. A simple file recovery of deleted/formatted content will work out cheapest (as format recovery software is only needed), while mechanical recovery from a damaged Zip disk can potentially be quite expensive.

Once you are given an estimate, there should be no obligation to use their service if the high price of Zip disk data recovery puts you off proceeding.

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