Bits & P.C.s: USB Flash drive and a reward

Bits & P.C.s: USB Flash drive and a reward

By Richard Heller

A few weeks ago I mentioned a relatively new storage device known as a USB Flash drive. Let’s take a little more detailed look at this marvel of modern electronics and why you should have one.

Utilizing the same type of memory as used in the memory cards for a digital camera or MP3 player, the USB Flash drive is available in sizes ranging from 32MB up to 1 GB. The memory is mounted in a case that is about the length of a stick of gum and is less than a half-inch thick. On one end is a plug that allows you to attach it to the USB port on the computer. Some of the devices have an on-board microprocessor that enhances the speed and adds other features to the product.

After the drive is plugged in, it will show up as a removable drive. Windows 98 will require you to install a small driver program so you can use the drive. Windows ME, XP and 2000 do not require any driver files to be loaded.

Since the device appears to be a hard drive to the computer system, you can do exactly the same things with it as you do a regular hard drive. You can copy files to it, erase the files, and probably the most important, store the files that you do not want to leave on the computer. It’s bad enough to lose the computer without losing the data.

When the USB Flash drive is used with a notebook computer, all your important data and programs can be safely stored so you still have them even if the laptop is stolen. All you would need to do is just plug the drive into any computer, and you’d be back in business. The device has a data storage life of 10 years, and most come with a switch that prevents accidental erasure of the stored data.

With prices on the device ranging from $50 to more than $300 depending on the amount of memory, it is a great addition for any computer system. It makes an ideal replacement backup system that is fast, portable and easy to use.

321 Studios, the publisher of DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy, have announced a $10,000 reward program for people who supply information that allows them to catch others who are using misusing their products. The two programs allow you to make backup copies of the DVDs that you legally own. There have been lawsuits filed against the company claiming that the products were being used to copy rental DVDs, and this is an attempt by the company to show that they are trying to prevent this misuse from happening.

The two programs already prevent others from making copies of a copy, and each copy contains an identifying number that allows them to track down the original owner of the software that was used to make the copy. Of course, the movie studios claim that they are losing millions of dollars because of these and similar programs.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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