Flash drives are great little devices; small enough to fit on a key chain, but capable of holding huge amounts of data. They’re handy for backing up files or for moving files from one computer to another – even between different computer types, like Macintosh and Windows PCs,
Using flash drives is easy. They don’t use batteries or external power. You just plug them into a USB port on any Mac or Windows PC and they’re ready to use.
But there’s one thing that you must remember: “Eject”.
The “eject” command is the last step to do before you remove a flash drive from your computer. Removing the drive before you eject it can cause the drive to become corrupted and all the data on it to be lost.
On both Windows and Mac OS-X, you can find the “eject” command by right-clicking on the flash drive’s icon. Or, on a Mac, you can also drag the icon from the desktop to the trash can to “eject” it. On Windows, click on the “safely remove hardware” icon in the tray (down by the clock).
“Eject” in this case doesn’t cause the flash drive to pop out of your computer. It’s just a figurative term for telling the operating system to button up everything on the drive before you remove it.
Now that you know how to eject the drive, let’s go back and actually use it.
Start by plugging it into any USB port on your computer. Wait a few seconds for the operating system to recognize the flash drive and make it available to use.
On a Mac the flash drive will appear as a new disk icon on your desktop. Double click on it to open the flash drive in “Finder”.
On Windows, the flash drive may appear as a new dialog box window asking you what you would like to do with the disk. Find “Explore files” at the bottom of that window to open the drive in “Windows Explorer”.(If the dialog box doesn’t open, then click on “My Computer” in the “Start” menu and find the flash drive icon in there. Double click on the flash drive icon to open it in Windows Explorer.)
On both Mac OS-X and Windows, once you have the flash drive open in Finder or Windows Explorer (respectively) then you will be able to see any files or folders that are already stored on the flash drive.
Flash drives can hold any type of data file, including photos and music files and, of course, word processing and spreadsheet documents. You can use “drag-&-drop” to drag files to the flash drive to copy them to it, or drag them from the flash drive to copy them from it to your computer’s hard drive. “Copy-&-paste” works too.
While you can work with data files directly on the flash drive in just the same way that you would normally work with files stored on your hard drive, if you’re going to make a lot of edits you’ll get better performance if you copy the file to your hard drive first and then work on that copy. The hard drive is usually faster to read and write data, particularly when you are saving your work.
You may hear that flash drives have a finite number of times that each bit can be changed, but the fact is it would be nearly impossible to hit that number in normal usage. So, use your flash drive as much as you like. They are pretty marvelous.
Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy