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Flash Drive Manager

Flash Drive Manager

USB flash drives are incredible devices, don’t you agree?

On that one little stick, you can hold as much information as a full-fledged hard drive could hold less than five years ago! Now, everything is portable and it’s so convenient. (For more information, you can read this article).

But, are you using it to its full capacity? Or as easily as it could be?

By using a small (and free!) utility from Microsoft, you can vastly expand the flexibility of your little USB drive. This program is called Flash Drive Manager. Come check it out with me!

To get your copy of Flash Drive Manager, head right here to download it to your computer.

Once you have it downloaded, click on the UFDSetupWizard.Msi file. Once you do that though, you might be greeted with the following warning screen:

But, since you downloaded it from Microsoft itself, there should be no problems in accepting the software, so go ahead and click the Run button.

You will then be asked where you want to install the program to. For this program, it’s okay to accept the default offered, unless you have a reason not to. If you do, you can easily change the location.

Once installed, launch the program and you will be greeted by this license agreement, which you have to accept in order to proceed any further.

Thereafter, you will be in the opening screen of the utility, which looks like this:

Across the top, you will see a number of tabs, which I have numbered from one to six for your convenience. I will now go through them and show you how useful they all can be.

1.) Overview

This is the page you are on now. You can navigate to the other pages by either clicking on the relevant tab or the link with the green arrow that is underscored in blue. But, please take note of the warning at the right, regarding having the USB drive plugged in before commencing any actions.

2.) Copy Files

This enables you to easily copy files to the USB drive. Let’s have a look at the screen:

Note: It is important that you first highlight the USB drive you are using in the left hand box (you can use the Manager to handle multiple USB drives if you wish).

Next, click on Explore in the bottom right hand corner. That will open a typical Explorer screen for you like the one shown in the illustration above. Highlight the files you want to copy over in the usual way and they will immediately be copied. (There’s no need to click anything else, because it is almost instantaneous).

Pressing the Delete button will do exactly what it says, but be careful. Make sure you check the request for confirmation screen carefully so you don’t wipe out everything on the drive!

3.) Back Up/Restore

The Flash Drive Manager gives you the ability to back up whatever you have on your USB drive to an image file on your hard drive for security purposes (to learn more about using images for backups, read this article).

The process is quite simple.

Check the “Back up files from a Flash Drive to my computer” option (circled above), make sure the right flash drive is highlighted in the left hand box and then press Backup. That’s all there is to it! (By default, it will save your data to a folder in your My Documents folder, but you can change that by using the Settings tab. I will explain more on that later in the article).

The process is the reverse for restoring an image to the flash drive.

Select “Restore files,” select the Image file on the hard disk and then click Restore. If you want to clear all the files existing on the flash drive first, just click the relevant box (circled above).

Note: The files will be restored to a folder created on the flash drive by the Manager program, but you can move them wherever you want afterward, just as you would do with any files.

4.) Properties

This will enable you to do some tidying up and make a few changes. Look at this screen first:

Select the right USB drive (if you have more than one) and click on Edit to show this screen:

As you can see, you can:

a.) Change the label of the USB drive.
b.) Set the USB drive to AutoRun (which means it will run automatically as soon as you plug it in to the computer, just like most CDs and DVDs do).
c.) Include runtime components (basically, if your computer doesn’t have the necessary files to enable AutoRun, this will make them available). Don’t bother with this one unless you have a burning need for the AutoRun option and it doesn’t work!

Complete the relevant field and click Save to process them.

5.) Manage Library

Here’s the screen:

This enables you to work with the various drive images you have on your hard drive, but also to make some modifications to the USB drive, similar to what you have done with the Properties (above).

But, you have the addition of the Delete tab (use with caution, see above) and Explore to locate the files to work with on your hard drive.

6.) Settings

As this screenshot shows, there are a number of things you can do here:

Let’s ignore the Wireless Network Setup Wizard for a moment and look at the Settings box below.

In order, you have:

a.) Include runtime components: We already discussed this under Properties.
b.) Free disk space: Enables you to say the smallest amount of free space you want to use for the backup. If you haven’t got enough, the backup will not run.
c.) USB backup library location: If you don’t want to save the backup in the default location (My Documents), you can change it here.

So, there you have it. A neat and free utility from Microsoft that will help you manage all of your USB flash drives. You gotta love it!

~ David Woodford