What is a USB Flash Drive?

what is a UBS flash drive
Picture of a common USB Flash Drive
Today’s lesson for the computer beginner is my attempt to explain the USB Flash drive.

What is a USB Flash Drive?  Its is a Data storage device that you can take with you!

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus.

When I was in college all we had to save our work on was a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk.  In time we had used a 3.5 inch floppy disk which were nicer.  Next came the CD Rom, and now we have the USB Flash Drive.

With each generation of storage devices that we have had they got more durable, had more storage space, and are easier to everyone to use.  USB Flash drives can come in all colors, spaces, and even sizes.

When you create a file on your computer?  It could be a letter, presentation, picture, etc you can save that on your hard drive. The hard drive, disk drive or in most cases is also called your C drive.  YES they can all mean the same thing.

How often do we hear people mention we need to ‘back up’ our files?  Today people can use the USB drive for that purpose, and many MANY others!

USB Flash Drives are smaller, faster, have thousands of times more capacity, and are more durable and reliable because of their lack of moving parts. 

Nothing moves mechanically in a flash drive; the term drive persists because computers read and write flash-drive data using the same system commands as for a mechanical disk drive (floppy disk, CD rom), with the storage appearing to the computer operating system as just another drive (Floppy or CD).

Plug your USB Flash into USB Port

If you look at the first picture of the USB Flash drive I used something should look familiar! 

USB Flash drives you would plug into your USB port on your computer. 

What do you use a flash drive or thumb drive for?

There are MANY uses, but I will give you some general ideas today.

The reason people like the USB flash drives or thumb drives is because they transfer your files faster, and have a larger capacity for storage.  I have read (have never used the USB flash drive this way) you can save information from game systems such as Xbox and Playstation on these.  Soon they say some mobile phones will have this capability.

What is neat about that?  Your children have their latest game setting saved on their Xbox, and you announce that you are going to a family event.  The kids can save their game settings on the USB flash drive, and bring it with them.  Once you get to the families house they plug in their information into the families Xbox, and now they can play with all their cousins!

If you keep your eyes open you tend to see these near almost every checkout in stores today. 

Here is a famous example of a USB Flash drive!

A recent familiar use of the flash drive or thumb drive was when they found Bin Laden this year.

When Osama Bin Laden was found and killed the news reports stated they found hundreds of ‘thumb drives’.  This is another name for them. 

It was reported that he did not have internet access, and yet we hear about him sending emails.  How is that possible? 

He wrote the emails on his computer, and saved them to his Flash Drive.  Someone took those flash drives to a location where internet access was possible.  They copied the emails into an email program, and they were sent off.  The emails he received from people were copied onto the flash drive (thumb drive), and brought back to him to read on his computer.

All his correspondence, files, plans and contacts were all saved for reference on thumb drives (flash drives).   Think about that for a minute!  If he knew they were coming to get him?  He would just grab his thumb drives when he left.  They would find his computer, but all his files were with him.  Its easier to take the flash drives compared to carrying around your computer when your are trying to escape! 

Bin Laden would NOT keep copies of his files on the computer directly EVER, but used his flash drives instead.  If they found his computer?  Big deal.  All the important stuff is with him.  Since they found the important stuff?  THAT is why they were excited!

I hope I helped explain to you what a USB flash drive is.  Keep in mind this is also called a thumb drive as well.  Bye for now from How-to Guide for Computer Beginners!

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