Difference Between Zip Drive & Flash Drive

By Richard Kalinowski

Zip drives and flash drives both store digital data for quick viewing and management. In short, they allow you to back up files from your PC. However, despite their near-identical basic functions, there are many distinct differences that set these storage devices apart.


Zip drive hardware must be installed onto a specific computer for usage. Flash drives, however, utilize Universal Serial Bus, or USB, technology. USB flash drives are widely compatible with almost any modern computer.

Storage Method

Zip drives do not store their own data; instead, zip drives save data to separate zip disks. Flash drives store data directly on the drive.


Zip drives are large and bulky, but the zip disks that contain data can be transported easily. Flash drives are also highly portable.

Storage Size

Most flash drives can hold more data than is possible on a single zip disk. In each flash drive is a small solid-state hard drive capable of holding several gigabytes of information.


While zip drives cost more up front than flash drives, individual zip disks are cheap and allow for storing multiple sets of data on many different disks for a small price.