USB Flash Drive
A USB Flash Drive or Memory Stick as it is sometimes called is a small data storage device. It consists of flash memory and is connected to a computer via a USB port.
They are becoming cheaper and also increasing in memory capacity. Today, you can buy a USB Flash Drive that is USB3.0 compatible and which is faster than the older USB2.0. To take advantage of the extra speed you will need USB3.0 ports on your computer (usually coloured blue), although you can still use a USB3.0 Flash Drive with a USB2.0 port on your computer, but it will be slower.
USB Flash Drives are small enough to carry around with you and are used for transferring files, backups, and storage. It is important not to use a Flash Drive for long term backup or storage as they may not last as long as a Hard Drive or DVD.
They are powered by the computer's USB port and retain their data when unpowered. A Flash Drive will generally allow up to 100,000 write/erase cycles, depending on the exact type of memory chip used, and have a 10-year shelf storage time. The USB connector on the Flash Drive is specified to withstand only around 1,500 insert-removal cycles.
You can buy USB Flash Drives with a retractable USB connector or some have a cap to protect the connector. A separate cap has the disadvantage that it can easily be lost. They may also include an LED light to confirm that they are working.
USB Flash Drives are very popular today and because they are so small and light many people carry them around with them. However, you may lose a Flash Drive and it may contain important files from your company, school or college which you may not want anyone else to see. Some Flash Drive include software to password protect and encrypt your files, and you can even buy a Flash Drive which has built-in hardware encryption which requires you to enter a pin number using numbered buttons. If your USB Flash Drive does not include any security then you can download encryption software from various websites including Encryptstick which can be found at http://www.encryptstick.com/
You can now buy a wireless USB Flash Drive such as the 'SanDisk Connect 32 GB Wireless Flash Drive' which works like an ordinary USB Flash Drive but also includes wireless which allows you to access it from various mobile devices as well as computers. Once it is placed in a computer's USB port it will charge the battery of the Flash Drive which can then be unplugged and will work wirelessly for about two hours.
Some other uses for a USB Flash Drive
Store a copy of your music, movies, and photos so that you can easily listen and view them on another computer.
You can install an operating system on a USB Flash Drive which will boot up a computer. The Microsoft website provides a 'Windows USB/DVD Download Tool' and instructions at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/windows-usb-dvd-download-tool
. You can also try other operating systems such as Linux and details can be found at http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/
You can also put anti-virus tools on a USB Flash Drive which will boot up your computer and help in removing a virus on an infected computer that is not working correctly and struggling to boot normally. AVG provides details on how to do this on their website at http://free.avg.com/gb-en/226162
Use a USB Flash Drive as a key which can lock and unlock your computer. More details are on the Predator website at http://www.predator-usb.com/predator/en/index.php
Save your Wireless Network settings (SSID and password) to a USB Flash Drive using Windows. This will make it quick and easy to connect a new computer to your wireless internet. Look in the notification area (bottom right of screen) for the wireless network connection symbol, and click on it. Find your network and right-click on the name and select 'properties' and then the 'connection' tab. Click on 'copy this network profile to a USB flash drive'. Windows will then save your settings on your Flash Drive. If you connect the USB Flash Drive to another computer and run 'setupSNK.exe' then it will connect the new computer to your wireless network.