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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?

An Actual Case

On 4/2/2006, OnALot.com took a direct lightning hit on our tower. That strike blew up all of our computers, TV's, radios - everything electronic that was connected to the AC power. Fortunately, I did a full data backup that morning, and for 2 days, our business "lived" on a flash drive! Without that flash drive, we would have been in terrible trouble, all our data would have been lost, and we might have had to shut the doors! We have flash drives on all our machines, and do backups every day. I also have a second flash drive that I disconnect from my computer so that it's isolated from all sources of power should a lightning bolt hit us again!

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, XP and Vista. You'll need the CD that comes with them 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 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 www.ebay.com 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, I recently bought a 4 GB (4 gigabyte) Flash Drive from an eBay vendor for under $25 shipped! 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 sizes ranging from 16 MB to 64 GB, or 16 megabytes to 64 gigabytes. I don't recommend anything over 4 GB - the really big ones are not user friendly yet, but they will be soon.

I'd suggest the 1 GB drive. Cheap, and very available - check out Wal-Mart. If you shop on eBay, you can get a 4 GB Flash Drive for about the price of a 1 GB at the local Wal-Mart. But Wal-Mart is closer and you can have it today!

Want OnALot.com To Get You One?

We'll buy a flash drive for you, and you just need to pay us what it cost us. No markup, no service fee, nothing added. We are serious about wanting you to back up your files, and want to make it as easy for you as possible. Just tell us how much you have to spend, and / or how big a flash drive you want, and we'll get it for you at our cost.

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