How to Use a Flash Drive As a Backup Device

by David Lipscomb Google

    Although limited in capacity to the average hard drive, portable flash drives increase in memory size with every generation. These devices are useful for backing up and transporting files from computer to computer, offering a compact and reliable method of data storage. Flash drives are also routinely used as sources for booting operating systems when hard drives crash. Although you won't be able to completely back up all of your computer's contents onto a single drive, flash drives are small enough to toss in your pocket or on a keychain for copying multiple files at a moment's notice.

    Backup, Storage and Transfer

    Step 1

    Locate an empty USB port on your computer or laptop. Remove or rotate the plastic cap from the end of the flash drive. Plug the drive into the computer.

    Step 2

    Wait a few seconds for the flash drive to appear among the other installed drives and devices in the "Computer" window.

    Step 3

    Click or double-click on the new flash drive to explore its contents, ensuring you have enough space on the drive to transfer your file.

    Step 4

    Locate the file on your computer. Enter the name of the file into the "Search" function in the Start menu if you aren't sure where it is.

    Step 5

    Right-click on the icon of the file or folder you want to transfer. Select "Cut" or "Copy" depending on whether you want to leave a copy of the file on your PC.

    Step 6

    Right-click on the flash drive's icon. Click "Paste" to transfer the new file to the drive.

    Step 7

    Right-click on the flash drive's icon once the progress bar indicates the transfer is complete. Choose "Eject" to safely remove the drive from your computer. Wait for the onscreen prompt indicating it is safe to pull the drive from the USB port.

    Windows Boot

    Step 1

    Insert the Windows operating system disc into your disc drive.

    Step 2

    Insert the flash drive into a free USB slot on your computer. Ensure the USB drive is empty, offering at least 4GB of free space. Making a bootable flash drive formats and erases the disc. Make sure to offload the files to your hard drive first.

    Step 3

    Download and install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (see Resources). Double-click the icon the installation places on your desktop.

    Step 4

    Browse to your disc drive and choose the Windows 7 disc you previously placed in the tray.

    Step 5

    Choose the "USB Device" option from the two choices on the "Choose Media Type" screen.

    Step 6

    Look for your USB flash drive to appear on the list on the "Insert USB Device" screen. If you have multiple flash drives installed, click on the drop-down menu's arrow and choose the correct drive. Click "Begin Copying."

    Step 7

    Wait for the program to finish the copying process. If there is any remaining data on the drive or if it is the wrong format, windows pop up asking you to confirm that it is acceptable to erase and continue. Click "Yes" in these boxes, or "No" to back out of the process and get those files off the drive first.

    Required Items

    • Windows operating system disc

    About the Author

    David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

    Photo Credits

    • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images