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Using Flash Drives at CCSF

What is a Flash drive?

Flash drives, also called thumb drives, jump drives, flash disks, are small, easily portable USB storage devices that plug into a USB port on a Mac (OS 8.6 or later, including all versions of OS X) or Windows PC (Windows XP, ME or Vista; Windows 98 requires some special setup).

  • You can lose the data on your drive if you don't eject it properly, however. See instructions below.
  • Some drives use U3 technology, which requires installing software on the local computer. Unfortunately this doesn't work on most CCSF computers. Read more...
Flash drive
Why use a Flash drive?
  • Flash drives are small - great for carrying around documents and presentations - but hold from 16 MB to several Gigabytes of information.
  • They are cheap ($10 to $150/200 for the largest capacity drives, currently - October 29, 2007 - 4 GB.
  • They work on both Macs and Windows PCs
What do you need to know about using a Flash drive?

Not much. When you insert a Flash drive, it shows up as a disk icon on your desktop (Mac), or shows up in My Computer with its own drive letter (Windows). You can double-click it there to see your files and folders and create/copy/move stuff to or from the drive.. You can make folders inside it, copy or move files or folders to it to make copies, or copy or move stuff off it to your computer. But you do need to remember to eject the drive safely - don't just pull it out of the computer. Most of the time pulling your drive out will do no harm—but it can. However, there is a way to make sure that there is no activity on the drive, and that you haven't forgotten that you have a program open that is still accessing a file on it. If you make a mistake, you can scramble all the data on your drive! It has happened! Here's what you need to do:

Ejecting your Flash drive on a Mac

Before you pull out your drive, drag its icon to the Wastebasket - which immediately turns into an eject icon. Wait a few seconds, and then pull out the drive.

Ejecting a Flash drive on a Windows PC

Look in the lower right corner, next to the time display. Step 1: You may have to click the < sign to open up the area and see all icons. Step 2: Click the right-pointing green arrow to safely remove your drive.

You'll see a message saying that it's safe to remove - or warning you that a file is in use and that you have to close a program. Correct anything that you need to and wait for the Safe to Remove message before pulling out your drive.

Help and How-to's on Flash Drives

Webster University Flash Drive Info page:

Saint Edwards University: http://www.stedwards.edu/it_dept/techacq/jumpdrives.html#care

Monash University on removing a drive from a Windows machine (with pictures)


1: Open the icon display

Unhide arrow, lower right

2: Safely Remove

Safely Remove icon

  Updated: October 16, 2006