Using Flash-based 'Thumb Drives

Many computer users are now using the convenient, pocketable 'thumb drives' to store and carry documents now that fewer PCs come with floppy disk drives installed. These devices contain non-volatile memory chips, which is the long way of explaining that they don't require batteries/power to store your information; data 'stays put' until you erase it or move it off the device.

Keep in mind that thumb drives are not as reliable or trustworthy as a CD-ROM or a hard disk. Think of it as the right tool to bring documents with you to a conference room, or to take home for review (expecting that there is another backup copy of those files on your laptop, or on a server). Thumb drives can occasionally fail – and when this happens, there is little that can be done to recover your information.

To connect a thumb drive to your PC, just plug it into any available USB port (not in a hub). After several seconds, the drive should show up in 'My Computer' as the next available drive letter (i.e.: E:, F:, G:, etc.) (Mac users will see it mount alongside their other available drives.)

To remove a thumb drive, look in your System Tray (lower-right-hand corner of your screen) for an icon with a green arrow. Click on the icon to see a pop-up list of removeable devices; then select the one you want Windows to release. You will see a status bubble pop up near the tray when it is safe to remove the thumb drive from your USB port. (Mac users will see an 'Eject' icon beside the drive in their Finder window.)

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