(+) Hands On with a Wireless Flash Drive

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.

A wireless flash drive? What’s that? Why would I want one?

Most computer owners are familiar with flash drives. These storage devices are usually about two or three inches long and have a USB connector on one end. When plugged into a USB port on a Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer, they appear to be equivalent to disk drives. The computer can read and write data to flash drives. However, unlike normal disk drives, there are no moving parts in flash drives. They are rugged, easily carried in a pocket or purse, and are great for saving and moving data from one computer to another. I use flash drives for several short-term backup purposes and also always take one to the library where I can copy data to the flash drive, take that data home, and then copy it to my home computer.

Several manufacturers have recently introduced “wireless flash drives.” These work in more-or-less the same manner as regular flash drives and they often even have USB connectors on one end. However, they also have another option: they can be connected to a computer via wireless wi-fi networking. There is no need to physically connect the flash drive to the desired computer. You also do not need any other wi-fi connection. The wireless flash drive is a free-standing wi-fi server. You can use it on an airplane or while on a boat, far removed from any other wi-fi networks.

The wireless capability is great for use with most handheld computing devices. Cell phones, tablet computers, some Kindles, and other mobile devices typically do not have USB connectors and therefore cannot use flash drives or other, plug-in storage devices. The wireless flash drive solves that problem: the mobile computing device can easily use the storage space within the wireless flash drive. A wireless flash drive can substitute for that “missing memory card slot” on your portable computing device. It also provides portable storage space for cell phone cameras. Did you ever fill your cell phone’s storage space with pictures when you were not at home? In the future, you can copy all those pictures from the camera to the wireless flash drive, then erase the pictures in the cell phone, freeing up space for many more photos.

Wireless flash drives not only work with Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers, but also with iPads, iPhones, Android devices, Kindle Fire e-readers, and other computing devices, including those without USB ports. Wouldn’t it be nice to add another 64 gigabytes of storage to your Android or iPad tablet? A wireless flash drive can do that easily.

Even better, multiple computers can connect to one wireless flash drive simultaneously. When on an extended automobile trip, family members can share a flash drive. One adult can work on his or her genealogy, the teenagers can listen to MP3 music files or watch music videos, the younger children can play games or watch videos, with all data coming from a single wireless flash drive. The same is true for a business meeting where each attendee has his or her own laptop or tablet computer. Up to eight people can access the same files on a wireless flash drive simultaneously. I suspect there are hundreds of other uses for these wireless storage devices as well.

This week I purchased a SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive and have since used it with two Macintosh computers, a Windows system, an Android cell phone, an iPhone, and an iPad.

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