The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Flash drives (also called jump drives or memory sticks) are a great invention. I use several of them to store and transport various data files. In fact, you can probably find dozens of uses for a flash drive. Today's flash drives are becoming cheap, and they are rugged—almost impervious to damage, other than driving over one with an automobile. I once accidentally sent a flash drive through the washer, and it continued to work perfectly afterwards. (That is not guaranteed by the manufacturer, however!) Today’s flash drives are generally cheaper, more rugged, and have higher storage capacity than CD-ROM disks.
One of the best uses I know of is to take a flash drive in your pocket or purse when visiting a library or archive. Many libraries and a few archives have scanners and microfilm viewers that will save an image of a book or an old microfilm image to flash drives. Instead of feeding quarters into a photocopy machine, many genealogists prefer to save to a flash drive. Flash drives make it easier to transport the images home, copy them to a computer at your leisure, examine them, manipulate the images to improve readability, and easily insert their contents into genealogy programs, email messages, or that book you are writing.
However, there is one huge problem with flash drives: security. I often keep private financial records on a flash drive, including digital images of all my insurance documents. Those often contain my Social Security Number and other identifying information. Another problem occurs at the library, when you accidentally leave your memory stick in the library's computer and it "disappears." I am speaking from experience here! What happens to the information stored on that flash drive when someone else later "recovers" it? Will someone else have access to all the information you stored there?
Luckily, there is a simple solution.
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