Sunday, June 12, 2011

Love or Hate Your Flash Drive? You Got Backups?

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Some of you call it a USB drive, some call it a thumb drive, some call it a flash drive, no matter what you call it, they have revolutionized computing.  Small, VERY portable, compact, lightweight, and they now come in lots of gigs for a very small $$.  Geeesh, they come in colors and designer clothing.  They even have their own necklaces, purses or pouches.

I will admit, that I have a love/hate relationship with the flash drive.  I don't like when I plug one in and start getting error messages, that I need to disc check it, or who knows what else.  In fact, those stinkin' error messages have kept me from using them very often, and frankly, I don't really have the need that often.

But, these last few weeks in Salt Lake City I have needed one, and I have been using one, I just close the error messages, ignore them, and carry on.  Copy files to it, transfer the files to the computer ASAP and every night (or early in the AM if I am toooooo tired at night) I back up the files to an external hard drive.

You may call me paranoid if you wish, cause, yes, mmm, I am very paranoid.  I have been dreaming of this research trip for years, denied for a variety of family and personal reasons for years, may never be able to come back, I hope to, but, the Maker decides these things, not I.  So, I am doing everything I can to protect the digital copies I am getting here.  Nope, not one paper copy, Tana is overweight now.

Due to my love/hate affair with my flash drive I only save larger files to it, like a 20 page probate file.  Individual birth, death or marriage records I have been dealing with differently.  Those get sent to one of my email accounts, where they happily reside until I can get them downloaded.  After downloading so as to clear the decks at that email account I actually forward them to myself at a "trash" account I maintain.  That means, that those certificates end up on at least 2 if not 3 email accounts for some time.  (All email accounts reside in the cloud, every single email account is a cloud/online account.)  

Excessive, obviously, paranoid medicine, you bet!

Now, back to those flash drives.  No matter how you feel about them, love or hate, or mix of both, I would like to point out that they should not be trusted with ALL your research from a week or two or more here in Salt Lake City.  Let's be even more specific, you should not trust ALL your research to just ONE flash drive. Here is the short story:

Becky met this gal, chatting along this gal tells Becky this story, summarized here.

 "I had a week here, I fly home tomorrow, I just lost ALL my files I saved to my flash drive this week."

We don't know if she had a lap top computer with her, but, the way Becky understood this sad tale is that this researcher lost the entire week's work, gone, bye bye, oops.

What we think happened is one of those little error messages came up on the computer she was working on, and it told her she needed to format the drive, and she did.  GULP!  She does have a nice clean flash drive now tho.  SIGHHH.  In a matter of a flash (ya, I know, sick choice of words) and one moment of fat finger activity and a momentary brain lapse, she lost it all.

We are guessing, but think that since she flew out, she just brought the flash drive and did not bring her laptop, traveling light.  In hindsight, maybe too light.

If I had flown out here, paid for a week's room and board, spent uncounted hours in the library and lost it all like that, I would have been in the bathroom tossing cookies, crying hysterically, ending up in a heap on the floor.

I feel so badly for her, even tho I did not meet her.  What a hard way to learn a lesson - - there are never too many ways to back up your data.  If you must travel with only a flash drive, how about carrying two??  How about emailing documents to yourself.   Come up with some plan, there are lots of places in the cloud you can store documents, some have free storage.  Find one, use it!

Back it up, but, back it up in more than one place.  And, no I don't trust that flash drive any more than before my stop here in the research mecca.  Yes, Carol has mega paranoid attacks, and I am still not totally convinced my backup methods are sufficient.  So, I am continually looking at other alternatives.  That said, I feel more protected than that poor gal, cause I won't trust one flash drive with my entire week's work.  Poor girl.

* Something else I learned this week about flash drives, seems that some of them only allow 100 files in any given directory.  Solution, make another directory and fill it with files.  Who knew??

Flash drive graphic courtesy of

'Tears a many' graphic courtesy of


TennLady said...

You get those messages because you don't shut it down before you remove it from older computers. XP has a little icon it puts in the system tray, that you click on to stop the drive so you can remove it. When you put it back in your computer you may get that message. Checking it *usually* does nothing to the files on your flash drive.

Carol said...

TennLady, yes, "Safely remove hardware", also available on the bottom task bar with Vista and Win 7. Also known to not function, forcing you to either remove the flash drive anyway OR turn the computer totally off.

I even did the "check" suggested, one of my first research days, cause I only had one or two new documents on the drive. Not sure what it did, probably nothing?, cause I still get that warning each and every time I plug the drive in, no matter what computer/operating system.

I am always using the safely remove icon, by the way. I have been told it is not necessary, I have also been told to remove without using that icon could result in loss of the data. Don't cha love conflicting information? SIGH

I am not however, brave enough to click that message again, risking data. The entire thing just puts me out of my comfort zone. SIGHH

I have no idea what operating system they run on their computers here, but the little green arrow clicky thingy, the safely remove hardware icon shows in the bottom right task bar on all of them. (They have some computers/monitors with the USB drive in the sides of the monitors, pretty new equipment I am guessing.)

I still am anxious about using a flash drive, even tho it may seem silly to others. The upside of my anxiety, I am backing up all over the place! I hope I am backing up enough.

Susan (Nolichucky Roots) said...

OK, just packed extra storage devices. I will back up, eject properly and cross between the yellow lines.

Michelle Goodrum said...

I feel that poor gals pain. Just finished dinner. Ready to toss MY cookies. Poor gal!

I had no idea about the 100 files in one directory thing. I suspect that would be a really good thing to know when doing heavy duty research in Mecca in the future :)