How to Use Flash Drives

Some of my clients who use flash drives, have been at risk of losing their data because they needed to know a few important rules.  I hope you will find this information helpful and that you will share it with others so they can benefit too.  If you need a little tutoring to master this skill, just let me know.

What is a Flash Drive?

A flash drive, or USB flash drive, also known as memory stick, memory card, flash stick, keydrive, pendrive, thumbdrive and jumpdrive, is a data storage device that includes flash memory with an integrated Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface. USB flash drives are typically removable and rewritable.  They are physically much smaller and sturdier than CDs.

The Rules

  1. Flash drives are NOT intended to be used for the backing up of data. They are a good means of transferring relatively small amounts of data from one computer to another or archiving data that will not be edited later such as photos.  For backing up important data, use a cloud backup service such as iDrive or Carbonite, or an external hard drive, or both.
  2. NEVER work on documents directly from your flash drive. It is best practice to first copy the document to your computer, make changes to the document from the local computer, and then copy the file back to the USB flash drive.
  3. If the flash drive is removed improperly or files are worked on directly from the flash drive, the files can become corrupted or lost. This is why it is important to follow all instructions carefully.

To properly remove a flash drive from your computer

  1. Double-click the Remove hardware icon lower right hand corner.       Eject Media
  2. In the safely Remove Hardware window, Double-click on the “USB Mass Storage Device”
  3. In the Stop a Hardware device window, click on your USB flash drive
  4. Click OK
  5. After seeing the “Safe” statement, you can remove the flash drive from your machine.

Safe to remove hardward screen shot

On a Mac, right click, or for trackpad users hold down control and click on the drive at the same time to bring up the menu. Then click “eject”.

flash drive on Mac Desktop

How to copy files to a USB Flash drive from your Computer:

  1. Insert USB flash drive into any available USB port on your computer

*Note: If the USB flash drive is being used for the first time, Windows may need extra time to install the hardware. You will know your flash drive is ready for use when you see a message by the clock stating: “Your new hardware has been installed and is ready for use.”

  1. Locate the file or folder on your computer that you would like to copy to the flash drive.
  2. Right-click the file
  3. Highlight “Send to”
  4. Select “Removable Disk (“Drive letter:)”

On a Mac, the drive icon will appear on the desktop.  Locate your files in finder and drag and drop them onto the drive.

After following the Steps above, Please DO NOT do not immediately remove the flash drive from the USB port. Follow the instructions under “Properly Removing Flash Drive from Computer:”

Checking to Make Sure File was Copied to Flash Drive:

  1. Double-click My Computer
  2. Double-Click “Removable Disk (“Drive letter:)”
  3. The copied file or folder should appear on the removable disk. From here, it can be placed into a specific folder on the removable disk if desired. If the file is not there, retry the steps under “How to copy files to a USB Flash drive from your Computer:”

On a Mac, double click the drive icon to see the files.

After following the Steps above, DO NOT immediately remove the flash drive from the USB port. Follow the instructions under “Properly Removing Flash Drive from Computer:”

How to Copy files from a USB Flash Drive to your Computer:

  1. Insert USB flash drive into any available USB port on your computer  (If the USB flash drive is being used for the first time, Windows may need extra time to install the hardware necessary for the USB drive to function properly. You will know your flash drive is ready for use when you see a message by the clock stating: “Your new hardware has been installed and is ready for use.”)
  2. Double-click My Computer
  3. Double-Click “Removable Disk (“Drive letter:)”
  4. Locate the file or folder on your flash drive that you would like to copy to your computer.
  5. Right-click the file
  6. Highlight “Send to”
  7. Select “My Documents”
  8. The copied file or folder should now appear on your computer under the “My Documents” folder. From here, it can be moved to any desired location on your machine. If the file or folder does not appear in the “My Documents” folder, retry the steps under “How to copy files from a USB Flash drive to your Computer:”

On a Mac, locate the file on the flash drive and drag and drop on the Documents folder in Finder

After following the Steps above, DO NOT immediately remove the flash drive from the USB port. Follow the instructions under “Properly Removing Flash Drive from Computer:”

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