How to Use a USB Flash Drive

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How to Use a USB Flash Drive

Flash drives are an essential part of the portable computing revolution. They are so small and hold so much data but, fortunately, they are very simple to use. Flash drives are useful for carrying files and even applications from computer to computer. Setting up a drive is completely automatic in all modern operating systems. Flash drives are available in computer hardware shops and online, through reputable sites like eBay. Learning to use a flash drive to transfer files and then safely remove the drive allows users to take advantage of the amazing portability of these tiny gadgets.

Mounting a USB Flash Drive

Mounting a flash drive happens when the computer recognises the drive and sets it up to allow access to its folders. This process is entirely automatic in Windows, Mac, and modern Linux distributions. The first time the user plugs in a drive, the computer installs the drivers necessary to use the drive. This automatic process usually takes less than a minute.

Transferring Files with a USB Flash Drive

USB flash drives are the perfect way to carry around photos, music, important documents, and videos. Putting files on the drive is a matter of clicking and dragging, regardless of the operating system.

Windows

Windows Explorer allows users to see the files on the computer and those on the flash drive. Users can open the flash drive by clicking on the drive name on the left hand side of the screen. They can then open the folder where they stored their files on their flash drive and the folder where they want to copy the files on their computer. To transfer files between the flash drive and the computer, users can click and drag the files from the origin to the destination folder.

Mac

Mac makes file transfer easier with a drive icon that appears on the desktop as soon as the flash drive mounts. Users can just click the icon to see what the flash drive has on it. Dragging items from the flash drive window to the desktop copies the files to the computer's hard drive. Dragging items from the hard drive to the flash drive icon copies them onto the USB stick.

Storage Limits of USB Drives

USB flash drives range in size from 1 GB to 128 GB and the capacity is increasing as technology progresses. However, an increase in price usually accompanies each increase in capacity. Before buying a USB flash drive, it is useful to know how much information a drive of a given capacity holds.

Drive Size (GB)

Photos at 12 Megapixels

High Definition Movies

MP3s

1

250

0

260

2

500

0

519

4

1000

0

1038

8

2000

0

2076

16

4000

1

4151

32

8000

2

8302

64

16000

5

16605

128

32000

10

33209

These are approximate figures since individual files vary in size. Also, the available space on a flash drive is never the full figure given. For example, a 64 GB drive actually has around 59 GB of usable space.

Installing and Using Portable Apps on a Flash Drive

Many applications work directly from a flash drive. To install a portable app on a flash drive, users can simply choose the drive of the USB stick when choosing a folder to install to in the first steps of the installation process. Portable applications are useful to avoid having to install a program, like Skype for instance, on every computer where one might want to use it.

Safely Removing a Flash Drive

Removing a flash drive is a little more complicated than inserting one because removing the drive while it is in use corrupts data and may damage the computer as well. For this reason, it is necessary to eject the drive by right-clicking on it in the Mac OS and choosing 'Eject' or clicking on the icon and choosing 'Safely Remove' in Windows. The computer then closes all processes involving the drive, making it safe to remove the flash drive from the computer.

How to Buy a USB Flash Drive on eBay

eBay is a great source of USB flash drives because of the wide selection and low prices. To find a USB flash drive on eBay, simply enter a term like 'flash drive' in the search box on any eBay page. Then refine the search by capacity, price, or other criteria. Look for sellers with an award icon that says 'Top-rated eBay seller'. These are sellers with a long history of excellent customer service on eBay. Learning how to use a USB flash drive and then buying one on eBay enables computer users of all levels to join the portable technology trend and carry a world of information on a tiny USB stick.

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