Memory Stick ('Flash Drive')

1 Memory Stick ('Flash Drive') A 'flash drive' is portable memory, like a CD or a DVD. Flash drives plug directly into a USB socket on your computer....
Author: Russell Chapman
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Memory Stick ('Flash Drive') A 'flash drive' is portable memory, like a CD or a DVD. Flash drives plug directly into a USB socket on your computer. You should have 2-3 USB sockets on your computer – modern computers will have at least 3 – and it helps if they are on the front panel of your PC. On a laptop they tend to be scattered around, some on the left, some on the right. A USB socket looks like this: Some flash drives have a removable cap, others pull and swivel to open. Plug the drive into the socket. If it doesn't fit easily don't force it! Turn it up the other way and try again... If it's a new flash drive the computer has to spend a little time 'getting to know' it. A speech balloon will appear in the bottom right corner of the screen, telling you that the computer has or similar. Found new hardware

It will then go through the process of that the 'device' is ready for use..

All this should take less than a minute.

Installing new hardware

before telling you


Naming a Flash Drive Click on Start and on the Start Menu click on My Computer ('Computer' in Vista or Windows 7).

C: is the traditional name for the main memory disk inside the computer – the 'hard drive' D: is usually the CD/DVD drive – a drawer that opens to accept discs. By modern standards, drive A: is obsolete. It is/was for 3½ inch 'floppy disks'. All the items labelled 'Removable Disk' represent the USB sockets on my computer. It's strangely old-fashioned - and misleading - that new computers still refer to these as 'disks'. If you've plugged in your flash drive, it will be in one of these sockets...but which one? The best thing to do is to pull out the flash drive and 'spot the difference':


Plug the flash drive in again...and Removable Disk (I:) appears. (That's what happened on my computer – yours might show a different letter) So the first thing I do with a new flash drive is to give it a name: Right click on the flash drive Removable Disk(?:) - and then click on Rename.


The current name highlights. You can just start typing the name you want to give your flash drive. The old name disappears. When you've typed the name you want to give the flash drive, click in a blank space to tell the computer you've finished. (You can see in the diagram that the cursor is still there...) There seems to be a limit of 12 characters (letters and digits) for the names of flash drives • I prefer to call flash drives “memory sticks” - they are like sticks and they are portable memory • It's best to give your memory sticks names like this so that you can easily identify them in 'My Computer'...or anyone else's computer. • Put an adhesive label on your memory stick to identify it •

Storing files, folders, pictures etc. on a Memory Stick When you plug in the memory stick this window will open. The computer is making a helpful suggestion that you might want to see what's on the stick.

If you want to see what's there, click on OK. If it's a brand new stick, there won't be anything saved on it yet so you might as well click on Cancel.

First, we'll save some files on the stick.


Suppose I wanted to give a friend some of my photos. I can save the photos on the stick and then take or send the stick to my friend. He can then plug the stick into his computer and look at the pictures. If he wants to keep the pictures, he could transfer them from the stick onto his computer. With the stick plugged into a USB socket, click on Start and then My Pictures on the Start Menu.

Select the pictures you want. Here I've selected 5 pictures by holding down Ctrl as I click on each one. (This applies to any sort of file or folder that you want to put on the memory stick)


Now point to the photo – in this case, point to any one of the selected photos – and right-click on it. A menu opens. Half-way down it, find Send To. Point to this and another menu opens.

You can now see the value in naming your memory stick. (If it still had the name 'Removable Disk', which one would it be?) Point to and then click on MemStick1, or whatever you called your memory stick. The memory stick will flash a few times to show that it's responding. You can now close the My Pictures folder (or whatever folder you were using) A copy of your selected files will be saved on the memory stick.


Transferring files etc. from the memory stick Plug the memory stick into a USB socket. This window should appear and will probably have Open folder to view files already highlighted. Click on OK.

If this window doesn't appear, or if you already had the memory stick plugged in from previous use, click on Start and on the Start Menu click on My Computer (Computer in Vista or Windows 7) Find the icon for your memory stick and double-click on it. You should now see the folder that represents your memory stick: The name of The name of the folder is the folder is here: here: 'MemStick1' 'MemStick1'

Here are the Here the Here areare the pictures we've Here are the pictures we've pictures saved onwe've the stick. pictures we've saved stick. saved onon thethe stick. saved on the stick.


(I already have some other folders saved on my memory stick.) If you want to take files or folders from a memory stick and save them on your computer, you can use a process similar to what we used on pp.5-6. Select the files or folders, then right-click to get the menu.

Point to Send To...

The best option that appears on the sub-menu is My Documents. Once the files are saved here, it's quite easy to drag them into a suitable folder. Remember that My Pictures is contained in My Documents... The panel File and Folder Tasks on the left can be useful. Rather than use right-click as above, you could use the Move the selected items option.


Safely Removing your Memory Stick Most people just pull the stick out of the USB socket when they have finished using it. You should use the Safely Remove Hardware option. At the very bottom right corner of the screen will be a row of little icons. What exactly is there depends on your computer. You are looking for this one: If you point to each icon a little label appears for a few seconds to identify it. If it's not there, click on the little white arrowhead and more icons will appear.

When you've found

click on it.

This box – or something similar – will appear. My memory stick was in USB socket (I:) so I clicked on this:

This message should appear. You can now remove the memory stick from the socket.

As I said above, most people would find this rather fussy. It's a habit that I have got into because I visit many different computers and so I make sure that I always go through this procedure.


Memory Sticks – how much...? Memory sticks ('flash drives') are a very handy means of storing data. They range in memory size from 512MB (that's ½ a GB) to 8GB. You might find them larger than that, but 8GB is going to be quite large enough for most domestic and home office purposes. To give some idea: • 1GB = 1000MB • A digital photograph is typically 4-6 MB of memory. • On a 2GB memory stick, you could store about 400 photos. Documents written in text are typically several hundred times smaller than photos. • These 10 pages about memory sticks take up 550KB of memory. That's including the pictures. • 1MB = 1000KB, so you could store these 10 pages (about ½ a MB) two thousand times on a 2GB stick. • That's the equivalent of 20,000 pages. So a 2GB memory stick would probably store the contents of a small business office.

Memory sticks range in price from about £5 - £20 depending on size of memory and styling.