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What Do I Do With a Flash Drive?

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals

Question: A lot of your articles for backing up files or moving files around say to use a flash drive, but you don’t explain how to use it. My son wanted some photos from my computer and said that I should copy them to flash drive and just send it to him. I bought one at the store, but it doesn’t have any instructions. What do you do with a flash drive?

A USB flash drive (sometimes called a  jump drive or memory stick. A thumb drive is slightly different because they have a write-protect feature) is simply a data storage device just like the old floppy disc, but it stores much more data. Though, since it has no moving parts, it’s not technically a drive. It draws power from the USB port on your computer. USB ports are generally located either in the front of the tower of a desktop or on the sides of a laptop or all-in-one. They look like this:

To use a drive, all you have to do is put it in the port. Some flash drives may have a switch that allow you to retract the Male A-plug (the part that plugs into the port), so you need to make sure it is extended like below:

Others may come with a cap, which you’ll have to remove for use.

Some drives fold out.

 Make sure your computer is turned on and fully booted up and ready to go, and plug the drive into the USB port. Make sure it is facing the correct way – there will usually be some kind of marking to indicate the front of the drive.  Once you plug your flash drive into your computer’s USB port, your computer should recognize it as a removable drive. 

Your should now be able to copy or move items to the drive, the way you would copy to a floppy or transfer to another file.

When the job is finished make sure to click the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon that should appear in your system tray at the bottom right of your screen. Also replace the cap or retract the drive to protect it from dirt and damage.

Aside from the ability to hold a lot data, USB drives can be incredibly useful. Check out these articles:

Creating a Bootable USB Drive

LibreOffice: The Ideal USB Office Suite

Hope this helps.

~ Cynthia

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14 Responses to “What Do I Do With a Flash Drive?”

  1. Linda Bass says:

    Nice article; easily understood. I have a question. If my “Safely Remove Hardware…” doesn’t appear, is it safe to just remove the flash drive? When I upload from my camera I turn my camera off before I disconnect but I can’t do that with a USB drive. Thanks for your help.

  2. Rose says:

    I think the tip was great.
    Keep them coming!

  3. Winton Severson says:

    essential info to use a flash drive!!–Thanks

  4. Meha says:

    Very well done and easily understood…..BUT-STILL
    did not explain how to transfer files and/or photos to the
    USB Drive!!
    Go to the file or photos you want to put on the drive ..RT. Click on file or photo and click on ‘send to….whatever drive letter it is.’ Poof! Done!

  5. "Simply," Lee says:

    Great! Tanks for the very clear easy to read instructions. The window open automatically, surprisingly in D drive and not the one for the memory stick, nevertheless dragged and dropped info. from desktop success! thanks again.

    “Simply,” Lee

  6. carol schemrich says:

    my friend dnloaded music to his pc from a homemade cd, but when he tried to copy it to a flashdrive, it said the music was copyrighted and couldn’t be copied. help !!! how does he get the music onto his flashdrive?

  7. Don C says:

    On both my Windows 7 computers, when I click on “eject media”, instead of “Safely Remove Hardware”, I get an error message that the device is in use, and to close all programs that this device might be using. Problem is, I have already closed out all the programs and files that I had opened from the flash drive. The only way to get the “safely remove” message is to close out Firefox, which I don’t always want to do, since I may lose data or work in progress.

    I recall a fix for this sometime back, as I recall opening Task Manager and ending, IIRC, the Realsched process. That worked for a while, but now it’s doing it again and ending the process doesn’t solve the problem.

    I have been working around this problem by putting the computer in “sleep” mode and then removing the flash drive after it shuts down, and then waking the computer back up. I figure that with the computer effectively dead, removing the drive won’t change anything in its contents.

    Has anyone else had this problem, and could my work-around cause any problem? I understand that just unplugging the flash drive without the “safely remove hardware” step may corrupt data on the drive. So far, I have seen no evidence that this is happening as long as I put the computer in sleep mode before removing the drive.

  8. Ernest White says:

    I love these tips!! I like to print them out for safe keeping in case I need one. This proved to help for something happen & I say I have a tip that may help. As a rule it does help.
    Please keep doing them on all subject.

  9. Steve says:

    This is a “BRAIN”in your pocket or on a key chain!

  10. Diane says:

    I have a flash drive which I have used several times before but now the computer does not recognise it even clicking directly on the drive it comes up with a message that there is no flash drive there. How do I get the computer to recognise the flash drive so that I can use it again.
    Thanks for your tips I use them a lot

    • cynthia says:

      Diane – check first to make sure the issue is not the drive itself. Put another flash drive in the computer and see if it is recognized. If the issue is not the computer, your flash drive may have failed or reached the end of its life.

  11. Barbara Pickett says:

    would be nice to have some of these questions answered………

  12. Fred Carr says:

    Once this is “plugged in”, what do you to copy what you want to copy?

    • cynthia says:

      Same as copying any file. Either right click and choose copy or use Ctrl C to copy and then right-click and choose paste or press Ctrl V to paste. You can also drag and drop to the destination.

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