There are many kinds of removable media these days, including:
When connected to your computer, these types will usually show in your My Computer/Computer/File Explorer window as a separate drive. Occasionally a removable drive displays as an additional hard disk.
We will walk through some basic steps in how to use such removable media. These small drives are currently the best way to transport your documents between home and school or work.
Step-by-Step: Using a Removable Disk
|What you will learn:
|to insert and remove safely a USB flash drive
to view the contents
to respond correctly to an error message
to rename a drive
These lessons will use an flash disk icon to mark steps where you need to save to whatever removable media you are using for your class files. The directions are for a USB flash drive. If you are using a memory card or some other device for storing your files, you may find some of the directions will need adjusting.
Start with , , and no removable media inserted.
If you are not currently using a USB device to store your documents, read through this part anyway! You will be using such devices in the future.
Locate the USB ports on your computer.
There may be ports on the front, on the back, on the monitor base or edge, or even on the keyboard. (Keyboard ports may not carry enough power for some devices.)
If you just pull a USB drive out of its port, you may damage the device, the port, or the data on the device. Windows has some housekeeping to do first.
If you do not have the new icon or in the Notification area of the Taskbar, click the up arrow at the left of of the Notification area.
A palette opens that shows icons that would not fit in the Notification area.
If the icon for Safely Remove is not there, use one of the alternate
The list uses the name you have given to the device, if you did that. You can rename these devices in the folder tree just like you can folders and files. We will see how to do that shortly.
USB connections for printers: A printer that is connected to the computer with a USB cable may or may not show in this list. It probably will not unless it can read files directly from a camera or if it has a port for inserting the storage card from a camera.
Click on the device in the list that you want to remove, that is, on your class disk.
A popup message tells you when you can safely remove the device. The light on the drive turns off for some drives but not for all. The message does NOT repeat the name of the device, only the type of device. Hopefully your memory will hold on to what you are doing long enough to disconnect the correct device! (Also, it would be nice to click on the device that you meant to click on!)
Message - Cannot remove the device
If a file on the device is in use, you can not and should not remove the USB device yet.
Solution: Close any open documents that are on the removable disk and close any Computer or File Explorer windows that display the contents of the drive. Then try again. (Sometime you have to close the program that was working on the file to make it turn loose!)
Problem: Vista: You don't know which USB device to choose because there are just generic names listed.
Solution: Right click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon. A popup menu appears with only one command, Safely Remove Hardware. Click on it. A dialog appears that lists the USB devices. Choose one and click on Stop. Another dialog, Stop a Hardware device, appears with several names for the same device. Now you should be able to tell if this is the device that you want to stop. If not, Cancel this dialog and choose another device in the previous dialog until you find the right one. Then you can click the Stop button. <Whew!>
Method 1: Open a window that shows the drives on the computer (My Computer/Computer/File Explorer) but do not select the USB drive. Right click the drive and select Safely Remove, if it is available, or Eject. Wait for your drive's light to go off, if it will. Then remove the device.
Method 2: Log off the computer without shutting down. Verify that the device's light is off, if your device does that. Then remove the device.
Method 3: Shut down the computer. While it is off, remove the device.
Why go through these steps? What not just pull a USB flash drive out of its port?
Start with , , and no removable media inserted.
The examples below show at least one drive that is not active.
Example 1: Empty drive; Panel of media slots
In the section Devices with Removable Storage, drive H: is an internal zip drive (installed in the computer case) which did not actually have a zip disk in it.
Drives J:, K:, and L: are slots on a USB device that has
slots for three different kinds of memory cards. Again, there were no
cards in place when the screen shot was taken.
Example 2: No such drive; Empty drive
The floppy disk drive (A:) is not actually installed on the computer, but the computer apparently thinks it is. The DVD drive did not have a disc in it. There are no USB flash drives are showing because no USB drives were connected.
Example 3: External hard drive; Empty drive
The drive My Passport (D:) is an external hard drive that is connected to the computer using a USB cable. The DVD drive does not have a disc in it. There are no removable drives yet.
Example 1: One device = Two drives
The single USB drive shows in the window as TWO new drives! This USB drive has been formatted to make it easier to play music, drive L:, but it can also hold data as drive M:. Just a bit confusing!
Example 2: Incorrectly shown as hard drive
The new USB drive shows as an additional hard disk. Unexpected!
Example 3: Custom icon
The USB drive shows as expected as a Device with Removable Storage, but it has a custom icon that looks more like a USB flash drive than the default icon does. Some companies use a company logo for the icon.
Message - The
drive needs to be formatted
This message is shown when there is a serious problem with your disk, but the problem might be with what you connect it to or insert it into instead.
Parts are dirty or broken or bent.
What you do:
Clean the parts of the disk and of the drive or port of all dust or particles, try to carefully straighten a bent connector, and try again. Don't use solvents to clean! Be very sparse with water!
A magnetic or electrical event has scrambled or erased the data on the drive without doing physical damage. This is much harder to do to a USB flash drive or Zip disk than to a floppy disk, but it can still happen.
What you do:
Reach for your backup copy! (You did make one, didn't you?)
What you do:
Reboot the computer. That's the fastest, easiest way to fix this issue. BUT... you need to save your work to the hard disk somewhere first! Once the computer recognizes your USB drive, then you can move your file to the removable drive. Whew!
Reformatting a flash drive: Not recommended unless absolutely necessary. Setting up a high capacity flash drive as a recovery drive for your operating system may including formatting the drive.
Different manufacturers format their drives differently. Sometimes the operating system (Windows) does not use the correct formatting for that brand of flash drive.
False error: Sometimes a computer fails to recognize or read a flash drive. It may be readable in another computer! Be SURE your drive is dead before tossing it out or trying to reformat it. Remember, if a flash drive was removed incorrectly (not with Safely Remove Hardware), the computer may fail to see any device on that connector until after the computer has been rebooted.
If you would like to name your device now:
We will not practice working with memory cards. You will have to check the instructions for your own device on how to remove and insert the cards or how to connect your device to your computer.
If your computer has slots for memory cards, look for labels that tell what format each slot can handle.
your device's instructions carefully!
Never put a memory card or connector into a slot that is not quite the right size!! You can damage the card and the slot. A card that is too small can get lost in there! The slot won't read a card with the wrong formatting anyway.