When was the last time that you backed up your flash drive? If you left your flash drive in a computer at work, would someone know who to return it to? How about if a student accessed your drive: are your files password protected?
Flash drives are a wonderful tool. They allow you to store large amounts of data on something that conveniently fits in your pocket. I actually had one that made it through the wash unscathed, though I would not recommend this practice! Flash drives are relatively cheap as well. You can pick one up for less than $10 at most stores, and it will hold lots of data for you. I prefer using a Sandisk model- here's a picture of mine:
So, how can you protect your drive? Follow these simple steps to ensure that your data is kept private and secure:
- Enable password protection- most drives allow this option. Go to your drive's web support site and see if it says how to do this. Every time you plug in your drive, it will ask you for a password.
- Write your name on it- write it in permanent silver marker, or write it on a small piece of paper and tape it to the back of your drive. Others will then know how to get it back to you.
- Back it up- This is one of the most commonly overlooked things to do with your flash drive. Get into a routine that allows you to back it up, at least once per month. I keep a folder on my home computer called "flash backups" and overwrite the folder once per month. For example, on March 30 I will take it home, copy all the files into a folder called "work flash march 09," then put that folder on my home computer. I can then delete the "work flash feb 09" folder that I created last month. Those with advanced skills can use some backup utilities built into their operating system or that are out there on the web for free.
Remember, these useful tools are a great way to transfer work or fun projects from work to home- but if you lose some important data, it can be very time consuming, frustrating or even embarrassing if you didn't follow some basic backup and security procedures!