Flash Drives 101

Paula LaBrot

Ah, the wonders of this time period! Too bad the Great Alexandria Library in Egypt burned down in 48 BC. What an incalculable loss of ancient scrolls, texts, and cultural knowledge. Too bad they didn’t have their collection backed up. Too bad they didn’t have flash drives or iCloud in those days. 

Flash drives—also known as jump drives, memory sticks, thumb drives, pen drives, or USB sticks—are small, portable data storage devices that can plug into your phone, digital camera, or computer, and used to download, store, or transport your documents, music, pictures, videos, and data. 

Flash drives are easy to move in a fire. All your precious memories and information are stored there in ones and zeroes, and it fits right into your pocket. Of course, you can store files in the Cloud, but those storage centers, supposedly secure, are not as private as a flash drive, and they may get hacked. Who knows?  

Note: USB connectors are rated to last for 1500 plug-ins, that’s it. Dependable brands are Samsung, SanDisk, Cryptex, Silicon Power, and Kingston. 



You might want everything that would go into an estate planning binder—wills, trusts, power of attorneys, bank information,  health directives, deeds to property, insurance policies, photos of household items, including furniture, art, appliances, jewelry, house plans, diagrams of septic plumbing, sprinkler lines, anything to make your life easier in case you have to rebuild. 

Separate flash drives can hold your photos. What’s cool is that faded photos can be restored in the process of digitizing them. Another drive can hold music you love. Another, all your home movies on film, VHS, DVDS, put it all on drives. 



You can create these drives yourself or you can send your material out to a scanning service to digitize it for you. If you choose to do it yourself, use your printer to scan photos and documents into your computer, create a folder (as many as you want) on your desktop and put the digitized content in there and transfer those folders to flash drives. 

Did you know you can actually turn your smart phone into a scanner? Download Google Photo Scan or Drobox apps. Take a picture of what you want to capture and scan it into your phone. 

There are also machines you can buy to do your scanning. The Epson Perfection V550 is recommended by Lifewire.com as the best all-around home scanner, noting that, “As a photo scanner, the V550 offers a strong performance, able to scan 35mm slides, negatives, and film, with digital ICE technology, [a hardware dust-removal feature] that automatically removes dust or scratches, and Easy Photo Fix that helps restore the look of faded images. Multiple photos can be scanned at once thanks to auto-edge detection that will crop and individually save each file. Expect dynamic, high-quality images with 6400 dpi optical resolution that supports enlargements up to 17 x 22 inches. It sells for about $175.”

For a mobile scanner, Lifewire recommends the Visioneer ® RoadWarrior 4D Duplex Mobile Color Scanner. It’s smart enough to recognize what you’re scanning and capable of capturing color, grayscale, and monochrome scans. If the page is double-sided, the single-pass scanner scans both sides simultaneously. At the press of a button, the scanner will take your data and format it into a searchable PDF file.”



If you want to send your material to a service, you send it out in a box and get it back digitized on a CD, DVD, or flash drive. Guess which one I picked? SnapCafe, the high-end scanning service recommendation from PC Magazine. It’s expensive. Much more reasonable is ScantoDigital. For oversized plans, posters, or blueprints, take them to FedEx, UPS, or other printing companies to scan for you. 



Everything is done on computers these days but let’s face it, computers and phones crash, get viruses, get stolen. Whatever. The bottom line is that data disappears. There are heartbreaking stories of PHD candidates whose theses were wiped out just before presentations; photos lost forever, research data corrupted, hacked, or disappeared. Years of work…. Poof!  Scripts, novels, saved emails, contact lists, gone. PowerPoint presentations, lesson plans, bucket lists, videos, love letters, anything on your computer’s hard drive, gone, gone, gone. 

If you are making a computer presentation, have a backup copy on a flash drive Just. In. Case. If you live in a fire zone, get your important stuff out…in a flash!

Vamos a ver! 


Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace. plabrot@messengermountainnews.com

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