Do you back up your pictures or design work to a USB flash stick? These wonderful tools are a great way to get the mobility, the memory, and the convenience you need to store those pictures in case your computer either fails or can’t be with you. The stick drives are available in sizes up to 256 Gb (Kingston sells for around $420 US) and you can fit it in your pocket. So what could go wrong? Here are 4 ways to destroy your sanity and your USB flash drive in the process.
- Let Windows fix your USB. No, I’m not anti-windows. I once lost a USB to this method. I first ran into this with Windows Vista and Windows 7 seems to have continued the trend. If you format the USB stick in a way that Windows doesn’t like, namely anything not formatted by the Windows OS; it asks you if you want Windows to fix it for you. If you ever use anything other than a Windows-based machine, you may quickly discover that your drive is unusable.
- Do not put your name on it. – Having worked in many a computer lab and with many USB drives, I can honestly say they all look-alike and the number of these you find stuck in the back of a computer at the end of the day is amazing. Putting your name on your USB makes sense if you are going to a place where you have to use a computer that isn’t yours, or if you want to give your client a copy of your work. This way you do some branding with your name and you enable the business you left your stick at by accident to get your work back to you.
- Reformat your USB – If you know what you are doing on computers this is an ok thing to do. I can’t really understand why you’d want to, but it is possible. Otherwise, you might reformat your USB so that only certain operating systems will be able to communicate with it and others won’t by accident. Nothing thrills a customer like putting your USB in their computer to see nothing happen. A USB flash stick works by using flash (electric) memory not magnetic tapes or disks. Therefore if you reformat it, the data is gone and even that family member who is the techno geek can’t get it back.
- Do not transfer your files to another storage solution. – When you lose your main computer system, notice I didn’t say “if”, you want a backup of all your work. USB drives work like all other forms of technology. They are wonderful; until they fail. In the paranoid world of the computer systems administrator, you want at least 2 redundant back ups of everything you create on a computer system. Yep, that’s 3 total copies. A USB drive is an option, but I would also consider another alternative also. RAID drives, a second hard drive that backs up everything on to a separate hard drive, is a viable option. Unfortunately, RAID sometimes becomes expensive and needs some tech know-how to make it work properly. DVD’s are also good option and all the major operating systems can read them. But they only hold about 4 gigs of data and in today’s 32+ gig world, do you really want all those disks? But they do have a shelf life of about 100 years. Burn’em and forget’em can be your backup motto.
Diligence pays when you understand what USB stick drives are capable of and what they are not. Don’t put all your data in one basket. Your sanity will thank you.
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