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Fundamentals of USB
Universal Serial Bus
Thumb Drives

There was a time when computer peripherals, such as printers, scanners, and external modems, were connected to a PC with different kinds of cables that plugged into ports of different sizes and shapes. The advent of USB technology meant that nearly all peripherals could be connected by one type of cable being plugged into any USB port on the PC. Additionally, if you have more peripherals than available USB ports, a multi-port "hub" can be purchased that allows several devices to be plugged into a single port.

The original USB circuitry, which appeared in about 2000 and used on many Windows 98 computers, was slower than the current USB-2.0 standard, which transfers data about 40 times faster. USB-2.0 peripherals are normally compatible with USB-1 ports, but when connected will often generate a message mentioning the disparity and suggesting an update.

The USB-3.0 is even faster than USB-2.0.

A USB flash drive is a data storage device that uses "non-volatile" memory (as opposed to memory that reads and writes to and from a disc or tape of some kind). This is the same technology used for digital camera memory cards. In fact, a camera's card can also be used as a "memory stick" that will hold all kinds of data — not just photos.

Before the advent of USB flash memory devices, computer users normally backed up files on floppy disks or CDs. Well, flash drives are available with way more capacity than any kind of disc or tape. Furthermore, they are not subject to being scratched or easily damaged by rough handling.

For copying data to a flash drive, click Start>Computer to display the inserted drive's letter designation (usually E:, F: or G:). Then open the folder holding the target files (such as My Documents, My Pictures, or My Music). Finally, drag the files from their folder onto the flash drive's letter/icon.

If the open document folder hides the Computer icons, resize the folder by adjusting any edge or corner to unhide the icons. If the folder fills the whole screen, click the "overlapping squares" icon in the upper right corner to make the folder resizable and moveable.

To paste the copied files onto another computer's hard drive, simply plug in the flash drive and reverse the above-described procedure. To remove files from a drive, select them and press your Delete key.

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