Understanding a USB flash Drive?

By jinx ยท 5 replies
Jun 26, 2009
  1. I've been reading about flash drives and am trying to understand exactly what it is and what it can do. So, I have a few questions.

    1. Does the flash drive store all the info from the PC that I plug it into?

    2. If so, I have my desktop at home and would like to have access to what is on it when I am on my laptop in another city. Is this possible to do using the info on the flash drive with info from the desktop? IE, pictures, documents?

    3. If not #2, then what would I do to be able to accomplish that? My goal is to be able to access everything that is on my desktop while away from home.

    Thanks for any help I can get. Also, please explain things in laymens terms as I am not computer literate.
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You can do what you suggest. You can get flash drives as large as 128 GB... cost is high for the large ones.. But We use the 16 and 32 GB to move large files. We use them for temporary storage until we get to the key hard drive.
    You cannot easily move programs. That takes skill, and a lot of knowledge of how things work... but you can move the files they create.
    What you should NEVER do is depend on those flash memory drives as storage. You MUST keep your original source drives and keep your files permanently stored on hard drives or save them to optical drives.
    Flash drives are notoriously unreliable. They can quit working at any time. The files on them can become corrupted or damaged or simply disappear at any time...
    Never, never, never count on your files on any flash drive to be accessible.
    Think of flash drives as file movers, not file storage, and you will be ok... Always verify the files you move, as they can become corrupted just resting in that USB flash drive in your pocket.
    There is a lot of static electricity in and on clothing, car seats, fabric chairs, other people's hands.
    And the most important rule of all: If anything can go wrong, it will.
  3. jinx

    jinx TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 24

    Thank you for your reply. The flash drive would only be used a couple times a year. So, let me see if I have this correct.

    1. Buy a flash drive. Would a 8 gb be sufficient enough? I don't have a whole lot on my PC. At least I don't think I do.

    2. How could I find out what is the best size to buy?

    3. Once I buy it is all I have to do is plug it into a USB port on my PC? If not, what do I need to do to get info from PC onto drive?

    4. Once I get the info on the flash drive, do I just plug it into my laptop and it automatically installs on my laptop?

    5. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,173   +989

    on #3: 'access to everything on my desktop' usually implies even the programs. To do that, we use something like Remote Desktop, GoToMyPC or like product. Your home PC is left running and you access it over the Internet.

    on #2: placing your file (like the content of My Documents\) on the flash drive is certainly doable. HOWEVER, there is an inherent risk for corruption and on infections. Any device that travels must be carefully managed and have frequent backups to protect the data on it.
    In addition, mount it on just any system in the world could easily lead to a virus on some system attacking one or more of your files and when you get home, it attacks your desktop system too.
  5. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Too complicated, I think the thread starter just puts pictures and documents on the desktop, so its all good.

    Now, you must understand what a flash drive is. It is a portable storage device, the same basic thing that you are storing your pictures and stuff on, its just smaller, cheaper, and PORTABLE between different computers. What you can do is just make a copy of the documents you want to keep around wherever you go, and when you plug the flash drive into a computer, a new disk drive will show up in the file browser and you can access files from it. It's like bringing your own special pen with you instead of borrowing someone else's.

    You should select all your documents, then right click on any one of them and click the properties option from the drop down menu, that will inform you of the size. If they are not all in one place where you can select them, keep note of files sizes and add them up.
  6. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You must have the mind set to realize constantly that the flash drive is good for moving data, but not storing it.
    Content on a flash drive is too frequently corrupted... damaged by being carried in a pocket or purse... susceptable to damage from static electricity... and the drive itself can suddenly quit on you... It may require formatting, destroying all current data, or it may never work again.
    When you religiously assure that you have another copy or the original copy somewhere, then the the flash is a good idea.
    There are now many stories of holdups of people carrying security data on flash drives... so do not carry passwords on flash data unless the risk is negligible.
    Never, never trust data that is only on a flash drive.
    Flash drives can lose their data from dropping or other impact.
    On the other hand, there are new lines of drives that are impact and vibration resistant... such as the Corsair Flash Surviver made of anodized aluminum and has mysterious security software such as True Crypt Security... They are 16 and 32 GB drives, with hefty costs... but the 16 GB version has recently dropped from $100 to $64, and of course, will drop further in price.
    In short, if you use them with care, they are a great tool... but as with a lot of computer hardware, IF ANYTHING CAN GO WRONG, IT WILL.
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