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What Do I Do With a Flash Drive?

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 [1]

LibreOffice: The Ideal USB Office Suite [2]

Hope this helps.

~ Cynthia