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Monday, February 1, 2016

Using a USB Flash Drive correctly [TIP]

It has come to my attention, after a few people have notified me that they have lost their work that was saved to an external USB Flash drive.  First of all, you need to remember that this device is meant for the easy transfer and storage of files in a 'temporary' state.  Meaning, you probably shouldn't be storing files to these external devices as the only location--this is NOT a good method of storing the original (and only) document.  The purpose of a usb flash drive should be to quickly transfer files that are typically too large to send through email, or multiple files that you want quick access to an various computers that you will be working on.  

The problem I have found in most cases are as follows:

The person opens Microsoft Word and creates a document. They then save the document to the flash drive.  This is where you make your first mistake. You should be saving it to the internal  hard drive FIRST and then copying the file to the usb device.  The main reason for this is because within Microsoft Word, it will automatically save a document (every 10 minutes typically), once the file has been saved, and will continue to save, to that same location as long as the file remains open.  This means you should NOT be starting the save process to the USB device as you may lose access to that device, should there be any momentary power bump to the usb device and/or the device is removed without the document first being saved and then closed.  

Second, the device shouldn't be used where you plug in the external usb device and open the word document from the device. This is for the same reasons mentioned above.  The correct method would be to first plug in the external usb device and then from the file explorer, COPY the file(s) to your internal drive (whether that be your documents or to your desktop is entirely up to you.. so long as you know where you have copied the file(s) to. Once the file(s) have been copied, you then click to open them from that new location, NOT from your external USB device. When you are finished editing and/or creating the documents and have saved them to your computer, you can safely COPY them back to your external usb device.

The other thing you should be doing, now that you are using Windows 10, is clicking on the FLASH DRIVE ICON in the system tray (lower right corner of your screen) and click to SAFELY REMOVE THE DEVICE. That way the computer knows to 'eject' the device and stop any further reading to/from the device until you unplug it and plug it back in.  If you are a MAC user, you would already be familiar with this action.

The same can be said for external SD and other Memory cards you plug in to your computer, for the purposes of transferring photos, for example.  No matter what program you may have, that pops up asking if you want to copy these photos and upload to your account (such as Google Photo Backup), you should first be copying them to your computer's internal hard drive and then uploading them to your offsite backup "cloud" location. This way, during the transfer/upload process, if the memory card should become unavailable, you aren't going to be left with half uploaded or saved files/photos.