Using Flash Drives To Do Backups

All too often in talking to my customers, I find that most people don't back up their files at all. Sometimes it's because they don't know how to use the CD writer that came with their machine, don't have writable CD's or it's just too much hassle. And let's face it, doing backups on CD's is costly because you keep buying them, and that gets old quick. Yep, CD backups are a real pain!

You know, we all keep a lot of personal information on our computers - they've become personal assistants, file cabinets, recipe boxes, and a neat place to store and organize our lives.

Where Would You Be If:

  1. Lightning struck, and your computer blew up?
  2. Your hard disk drive crashed?
  3. You got a virus that ruined your Windows system, and your computer had to be reset back to factory settings?
  4. Someone stole your machine?

All those family photos - gone!
Your tax records - gone!
Documents, music, reports, geneology, files of all kinds - gone!
Everything would be lost!
What would you do?

How Do You Use A Flash Drive?

It's so easy, it's almost comical. Flash drives are made to plug into your computer's USB port. They show up as a removable disk, and you can read and write to them every day, storing your data and having peace of mind. Here's a step by step set of instructions on how to do backups:

Note: Flash Drives are plug-and-play for Windows ME, 2000, XP, Vista and 7. You'll need device drivers for Windows 98. Your computer must have a USB port.

  1. Plug the Flash Drive into one of your USB ports
  2. Click on My Computer - it may be on the desktop or on the Start Menu
  3. Your Flash Drive will show up something like this:
  4. Notice Removable Disk (E:) - that's your Flash Drive. You may have a different letter for the Flash Drive - that's OK.
  5. Now go to your computer's desktop where your files are stored. Here's an example of some folders:
  6. Put your mouse on one of the folders and hold down the left button. While it's down, drag the folder sideways onto the Flash Drive (Removable Disk E) and let go. That folder and all the files in it will be copied onto the Flash Drive. You can also copy single files that are on your desktop the same way.
  7. Do the same for all your folders
  8. Now if you double-click on the Flash Drive, you'll see your folders have been copied, or backed up, onto the Flash Drive.
  9. Remove the Flash Drive. Keep it next to your machine so you can easily do backups. Removing it protects it from lightning strikes and power line surges since it's not connected to anything. Plug it back in when you need it.

It's that easy! You can also click on the folders in the Flash Drive to see all the files in there.

Deleting And Editing Files And Folders

If you edit a file on your computer, it isn't automatically edited on your Flash Drive. You have to re-copy it onto the Flash Drive to have a fresh backup of that file.

Similarly, if you add or delete pictures from your computer, they're not put on or taken off the Flash Drive until you do a new backup.

Deleting files and folders from the Flash Drive is simple. Just click and hold the left mouse button on the file or folder you don't want, and drag it off to the Recycle bin.

Computer-To-Computer File Transfers

OK, so you got a new computer and want to transfer your files. Flash Drives to the rescue! Follow the procedures above, copy all your files and then copy them onto the new computer's desktop by dragging them off the Flash Drive and onto the Desktop. So easy! And fast!

Where Can I Get Flash Drives?

They are available from many places these days! Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Staples, Office Depot - they all carry them. And of course, there's eBay! Go to and do a seach for Flash Drive. You'll be amazed at the number of them that show up!

Prices are all over the place, but, they are really not expensive, and considering the safety they bring, they're a worthwhile investment. You should expect to spend under $40 - which is much cheaper than a stack of re-writable CD's and a CD burner.

How Big A Flash Drive Should I Buy?

They come in many sizes from 256 MB (megabytes) up to 128 GB (gigabytes) or more.
I'd suggest the largest one you can afford. Check out Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc. If you shop on eBay, you can get them a lot cheaper than you can at the local Wal-Mart. But Wal-Mart is closer and you can have it today!

You really should be doing this - it will save you when your computer dies!