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No More Floppies!

Lately I have seen several kids working with floppies for their school projects. I even know some users that still backup their Quicken and other data to floppy disks. Floppies were great in the 1990's, but have no place near today's computers.

With the arrival of writable CDs, floppies began to become obsolete. Even today it is a little cumbersome to use a CD to transfer an ongoing project from computer to computer. The writing or burning process is not always a simple one and sometimes you end up with a CD that will not read in another computer. So... what's the best media to use for small backups, sharing files with friends, and transferring projects from home to school? Depending on who you ask, the name may be different, but the device is the same. Flash drive, memory stick, thumb drive, USB drive, thumb stick, pen drive... they all mean the same thing. We will call them flash drives.

A flash drive is a stick of flash memory that has a USB connector. Usually they are about the size of a disposable cigarette lighter or smaller and come in many bright colors. Flash drives hit the market about six years ago, but were relatively small and very expensive. Today however, they have large capacities and are cheaper than ever.

Simply plug a flash drive into one of the USB ports on your Windows XP computer and give Windows a few seconds to recognize it. Open My Computer and you will see that you have an added drive. Usually something in the range of E: through I:. You can treat this drive just as you would your floppy drive or C: drive. Browse it, save to it, copy to it, delete from it, etc. When you are done, just unplug it and put it in your pocket. These drives work much faster than floppy disks and CD drives and hold a lot more data.

Flash drives are available at most electronics retailers ranging in size from 128MB for about $10 to 16GB for more than $600. The best bang for the buck is the 1GB to 4GB range. You can buy a 1GB Flash drive for $25. Bear in mind that 1GB is 30% larger than a CD and holds about 700 floppies worth of data. That's a lot of Quicken backups. As always, feel free to email or call with questions.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 6/1/2007

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