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by Paul Sanders
Data became a lot more portable when cheap, lightweight flash memory became widely available to the general public. With no moving parts and easy plug-and-play functionality, USB flash drives are one of the easiest ways to move files, photos and other data from one computer to another. You can even use USB storage in some cars. Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions about USB flash drives that reveal the different ways you can use them.
Can I use a USB flash drive more than once?
Yes. Flash memory can be rewritten thousands of times. You can store files on a USB flash drive, erase them and then save new files over and over. Since they are easily reusable, USB drives are significantly more convenient than other portable storage, like CDs and DVDs.
How much data can be stored on a flash drive?
Storage capacity varies between USB flash drives. Some memory sticks store a few gigabytes, and others can carry dozens of gigabytes of data.
How do I connect a USB drive to my computer?
USB flash drives connect to ports on the front, sides or back of your computer. Sometimes, your computer monitor or keyboard will feature a few ports as well. The port is rectangular shaped, just like the end of the flash drive. Most computers have several ports; these will be listed in your user manual.
Do USB drives need additional software to work?
Not really. All of the software drivers required for your computer to read a USB flash drive will be stored permanently on the hard drive itself. The first time you plug the memory stick into a computer, the computer will automatically install the needed drivers. From then on, the computer will recognize that particular USB flash drive whenever you plug it in.
Will all USB flash drives work on any computer?
Yes. New specifications for USB devices come out every few years, but the new USB flash drives are made to be backwards-compatible with your computer's ports, even if the computer is several years old.
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