Monday, January 21, 2008

TGIF - January 21, 2008 - USB Flash (Thumb) Drives

Do you find yourself wondering where you left the file that you wanted to work on? Do you e-mail things back and forth from the office to your house repeatedly? Do you have to make trips to find the computer that something is actually stored on? Or, even worse, do you work in a church that doesn't have a network!?! You need a USB Flash Drive, also known as a Thumb Drive.

A UFD plugs into a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port on your computer. Under any modern OS it is recognized instantly. Under an old version of Windows, you may need to install a driver in order to see the UFD. If your computer has USB 2.0 ports, you can rapidly move files to and from the UFD. If you only have USB 1.1 ports, it's still fairly quick, but definitely takes a bit more time.

UFDs are great for moving documents from one machine to another. They don't have any moving parts and they are much less likely to fail than a floppy disk. I keep one on my keychain so that I always have a few programs that I use often. It's also a great way to backup important files that you really want to be sure and not lose!

As is the case with all technology, prices of UFDs have dropped over the years. I bought my first UFD in the spring of 2003. It was a 64MB drive and it cost me about $50. A little over a year ago I bought a 256MB UFD and it cost me cost me about $25. This fall I splurged an bought a 4GB drive and it was the same price as the first one! You should be able to fit all the pictures from a trip onto a drive of this size. I would also recommend that you get one with a retractable connector, as you will eventually lose any cap that comes with a UFD.

If you use a lot of different machines and want your own bookmarks and browser, you may also be interested in using Portable Applications. There are a variety of websites that contain applications you can put on a UFD and then run on any computer without needing to install them. I have had good luck with, a collection of Open Source applications that will fit on a moderate sized drive. I used it so that I didn't have to lug a laptop around when I was visiting family this fall.

Finally, if you're truly literalistic, you can buy or make a Human Shaped Thumb Drive.

God's blessings on the ministry you do each day,
Pastor Andy Arnold
ELCA Youth Ministry Network's Tech Geek

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