Microdrive is the name for a very small, 1 inch (2.5 cm) hard drive, which was available both in the form of Compact Flash II memory card has been installed and fixed in devices. Microdrive is a trademark of IBM, but is also used for corresponding devices from other manufacturers.


CompactFlash Microdrives are basically in slightly thicker CompactFlash II housing (5 mm) and fit thus not in devices that have only a thin Compact Flash I- shaft ( 3 mm).

Before the use of a storage medium with more than 2 GB of memory must be checked whether the device in which the card is to be used, the media with this capacity can respond at all. Normally, the FAT32 file system is used for media than 2 GB. In particular, older devices ( manufactured before 2003) can often respond only with FAT16 formatted media and thus are limited to 2 GB as the upper limit.

Microdrives can be operated in all positions; as specified by the Microdrive 1 GB a month ( at most 20% search, read and write operations ), however, for a maximum of 140 hours of operation / designed. Therefore it can not be used as a substitute for a conventional hard drive in a PC Microdrive, because there usually exist longer operating times and hard disk activity.


The last has the following technical data produced Hitachi Microdrive 3K8 (8 GB):

  • Rotational speed: 3600 rpm
  • Data rate: 10 MB / s read and 5 MB / s Write
  • Dimensions: 40 × 30 × 5 mm
  • Weight: 13 g


Demand, especially with the advent of digital cameras in the late 1990s increased after small memory modules rapidly. Because the flash memory commonly used was very expensive (2001 cost a CompactFlash card with 128 MB converted about 175 EUR and 512 MB ​​approximately 1200 EUR ), IBM developed as a low cost alternative, a miniature hard drive in the form of a Compact Flash II memory card.

As an integrated device Microdrives were installed in about MP3 players, PDAs, navigation systems and mobile phones.

In the first generation had Microdrives capacity of 340 MB and 512 MB ​​. Even the 340- MB version was used by NASA to make the little computers in the spacesuits sufficient data storage. NASA has also used during shuttle missions STS -98 and STS -102 Microdrive to store photos.

This was followed by generations with capacities of 512 MB ​​and 1 GB. In the meantime, also sold as Iomega resellers a 340- MB version. It also Microdrives were sold with a capacity of 2.2 GB and 4 under the name MagicStore.

After the sale of the hard disk drive business to Hitachi IBM was produced with capacities up to 8GB where the (actually not quite original ) "original Microdrive ". Also set forth Seagate Microdrives, with capacities of 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 GB. The price advantage of Microdrives ended in 2006 by the sharp drop in prices of flash memory. Therefore, Microdrives are virtually no longer available. Flash memory cards are available up to 128 GB, with prices for flash memory have fallen sharply (CF flash memory there is from about 1.00 EUR, SD flash memory from 0,50 EUR per GB depending on the speed and storage capacity; dated July 2012). In addition, flash memory uses less power, is shock resistant and significantly faster than Microdrives.