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I have several old 100MB Zip Disks I used to use with a PC that I would like to import and archive the contents of.

I purchased a generic DB25 Parallel Connector to USB adapter, and it is detected by my Mac, and VMWare will alert me to decide where it should be connected, but I can't seem to get it to mount to OS X (no surprise) nor to any VM. I have tried VMS of Windows 98, XP (32 bit), 7 and 10 with every driver I could find via Google, but no luck.

Do you have any experience trying to do this?

  • So is Mac OS X in this case being run as your main OS or via a VM? I think the VM factor may be the main bottleneck here. – JakeGould Dec 30 '15 at 2:04
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    Native OS is Mac. Tried connecting to Mac and to VM. Both have failed. Or I have failed at both. – Electrik Dave Dec 30 '15 at 5:42
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    Been looking for references on this, but I have a strong hunch I know what the issue is: These USB-to-parallel devices are mainly designed to send data to legacy printers but not receive them. A Zip drive might need read/write capabilities to actually have the connection work since a Zip drive is a writable device. Just tossing that out there for now. If anyone can find a more solid reference, please feel free to reference my comment and post an answer. Or if there is a better solution, heck… Post that! – JakeGould Dec 30 '15 at 6:17
  • Ah that makes sense. Maybe I can try another interconnect. – Electrik Dave Dec 30 '15 at 7:57
  • It says it's read/write on the site I bought the adapter from. – Electrik Dave Dec 30 '15 at 9:33
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Parallel ZIP drives specifically required an ECP parallel port in order to operate. In its heyday, the feature that distinguished ECP from EPP and SPP parallel ports was its use of DMA to do data transfers.

USB does not support DMA, so most USB parallel adapters don't either. You must find a parallel adapter that specifically cites ECP support in its specs. Emulating DMA over USB is hard (i.e. more expensive to implement), and this one is the only adapter I found from a cursory Google search that specifically states it supports ECP in the specs.

Additionally, Macs never supported parallel ports at all. Before Macs had USB, they used a proprietary serial port to do printing. So who knows if this thing will work on a Mac even with pass-thru to a VM. You may need an actual PC for this.


What kind of Mac do you have? Some 2008-2011 MacBook Pros had an ExpressCard slot. ExpressCard does support DMA natively, and there are tons of EC to Parallel adapters out there that are likely fully compliant with the ECP spec.

  • Why was this downvoted? I see no obvious reason for the -1. – bwDraco Apr 19 '16 at 3:38
  • Oh wow thanks, I'll find someone with the old MacBook! – Electrik Dave Sep 1 '16 at 21:38

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