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In computer storage, removable media refers to storage media which can be removed
from its reader device, conferring portability on the data it carries. A removable drive
is a reader device for such media. These are not to be confused with removable disks,
which are self-contained storage devices detachable whole from their hosts.

Some types of removable media are encased in cartridges to protect sensitive data-
carrying surfaces from dust, moisture and mechanical wear. Cartridge enclosures are
necessary where the medium itself is too fragile to be handled directly (as with Zip disks
and floppy disks), but are sometimes dispensed with to reduce media costs (as with
compact discs and later generations of DVD-RAM media).

Removable media remain the most common means of distributing retail software for
personal computers[1], with the compact disc displacing the floppy disk in the mid-1990s

T here are many kinds of removable media these days, including:

• USB drives with a variety of names and shapes
• floppy disks

Each of these will show in your My Computer/Computer window as a separate drive.

We will walk through some basic steps in how to use such removable media.

USB Flash Drives

There are many different names, shapes, and capacities for
USB flash drives. Each company calls it something
different, including flash drive, flash pen, jump drive,
thumb drive, key drive, and mini-USB drive.

All have the same kind of rectangular connector under the

cap. This connector can only plug in one way. Do not force

All are small, about the size of your thumb or a large car key, and plug into a USB
port on the computer. No drivers are needed for Windows Vista, XP, 2000

or Me. Plug it in and the computer reports a new drive! Older versions of Windows need
to have drivers installed.
Such small flash drives can have large storage capacities, from 8 MB to 4 GB or more!
Much better than a floppy disk!

Some flash drives have a tiny, hard-to-see switch that you can use to prevent writing to
the drive.

Some flash drives include password protection, encryption, and the ability to run
software right off the USB drive. So cool!

Floppy Disks
A floppy disk does not look very floppy. But what is inside the plastic case is very floppy
indeed. It is a thin Mylar disk that has magnetic properties. Your floppy drive "writes"
data onto the disk by setting the direction of the magnetic particles.

Parts of a floppy disk:

Step-by-Step: Using a Removable Disk

What you will learn:

• to insert & eject

• to label or mark
• to view the contents
• to write-protect
• to respond correctly to an error message

Insert & Eject a Floppy Disk

If you do not have a floppy disk drive on your computer, you can skip to the next
Find the floppy drive on your computer. It is a slot with a button and a small
light which comes on when the drive is accessing a disk. The button will stick
out when there is a disk in the drive. [Old drives have a lever instead of a
2. Put a computer disk label on your floppy disk if it doesn't already have one.
Please use a label designed for floppy disks. Other kinds of labels may come off
inside the drive, with expensive results.

Be careful when you put the label on.

It should not cover the holes or touch the metal
parts of the disk. Be sure all the label edges are
stuck down tightly so the label won't come
off inside the disk drive!

3.Write your name on the label and the class it is for. This label will help you keep
track of what is on a disk as well as identifying your disks to others if you lose it. Some
computer disk labels wrap around the top of the disk to the back. Some just fit on the
We will call this your Class disk, meaning the disk to which you are currently saving
documents. You will use this disk to practice working with files and folders.

If you are using the older 5¼" disks, be sure to write on the label BEFORE putting
it on the disk. It is easy to damage the insides of this larger type of floppy by writing on
it. A felt tip pen can be used after the label is on the disk. Never use a pencil or ball-point
pen on a 5 ¼" disk

4. Insert the floppy disk into the floppy drive, with the label side up and the side
with the round metal part down. Be sure the disk is entering the slot straight and
don't force the disk in. Only one will fit in at a time!

The eject button should be sticking out when the floppy disk is in the drive.

Be careful when inserting and removing disks so that you don't snag the metal slide
and bend it. That could keep the disk from working in the drive.

5. Now eject the disk by pushing the eject button on the drive. See how easy this is!

Insert & Stop/Eject USB Flash Drive

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.
1. 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 your device.)
2. Remove the cap from your USB flash drive.

3. Insert the USB flash drive into the USB port. Be careful not to force
it in the wrong way!Windows recognizes that you have connected a
USB device.

Any of several events may happen:

• a notification sound plays
• a popup message appears, notifying you of that a new device has been found
• a message tells you that drivers are being installed.
• a search progress bar appears as Windows looks for an AutoPlay command
• a dialog offers you several choices of what to do next, including Open folder to
view files using Windows Explorer and No Action.
• new icon appears in the notification area of
the Task Bar a new window displays the drive's
4. If you do not have the new icon in the
tray of the Task Bar, skip to alternate method.
5. If you have the new icon in the tray of the
Task Bar, left click it. A menu appears that lists USB
devices that are currently connected.

A printer that is connected to the computer with a USB cable may not show in
this list. It probably will if it can read files directly from a camera or if it has a
port for inserting the storage card from a camera.

6. Click on your USB Mass Storage Device.

A popup message tells you when you can safely remove the device. The light on
the drive turns off for most drives. If a window was showing the drive contents, it
closes automatically.
In Windows Vista: If the contents of the device are displayed in a window,
Vista will not let you 'safely remove' the device. You must close
any such windows as well as any open documents from the device

Problem: Message - Cannot remove the device

If a file on your device is in use, you should not remove the USB device yet.
Solution: First close any open documents and Computer windows that display
the contents of the drive. Then try again.

Problem: You don't know which USB device to choose

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 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!>

7. Verify that the drive light is off.

8.Remove the USB drive by pulling it out of the port

Alternate methods to safely remove USB flash drive:

Method 1: Open a window that shows the drives on the computer (My
Computer/Computer/Explorer). Right click the drive and select Safely Remove, if
it is available, or Eject. Wait for your drive's light to go off. Then remove the
Method 2: Log off the computer. Verify that the device's light is off. Then
remove the device.
Why go through these steps? What not just pull a USB flash drive out of
its port?
• If the device is in the process of writing, you can corrupt your file and even
damage the device permanently.
• The computer may not recognize the next device you plug into that port.
Rebooting the computer clears up this issue but logging off and back on again
does not.
• The computer may not let go of the drive letter it assigned to the USB drive.
There are only so many letters available! Rebooting does not usually clear up
this issue. It can be tricky to fix.
View Contents of a Floppy Disk

Start with: , (removable disk is not in the drive yet)

If you don't have a floppy drive, skip to the next section.

1. Double-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop. A My Computer

window opens that shows icons for each drive on the computer and for
certain special folders.

2. Double-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop. A

My Computer window opens that shows icons for each drive on the
computer and for certain special folders.
(Be sure the drive is empty for this step!)

You will see the failure message at the right.

You will hear the drive trying to access the floppy.
(A scary sound when not expected!) You may
hear the computer's error sound. This message
usually just means that the disk is not in the drive.

Problem: You get a message when a disk is

in the drive that says the device is not ready or
tells you to insert a disk. It may mean that there is either a:

• Physical problem:
Dirt inside the cover or other physical damage.
Perhaps the metal slide is stuck or the disk won't
spin inside the plastic case because of grit inside. (Ouch!)

What you do:

Eject the disk and move the metal slide back and forth a
few times. Turn the disk to the back and rotate the metal circle a time or two
in both directions to be sure it is spinning smoothly. If all seems well, insert
the disk and try again.

• Data problem:
A magnetic field has scrambled or erased the data on the drive without
doing physical damage .Your data is lost.
Sometimes disks formatted in one computer are indigestible to
another one for no apparent reason. Don't assume that your data is lost
forever until you try the disk in the original computer.
3. Insert the Class disk into the drive and click on the Retry button in the
error message.
The My Computer window that appears will be blank - if the floppy was blank to begin

Always view the contents of a floppy before formatting! It is very easy to grab the
wrong disk.

View Contents of Other Removable Media

If you are using a removable disk other than a floppy disk, the drive
may not show in My Computer or Computer until you actually
insert your disk. It depends on the kind of drives you are using.
Internal Zip drives will show up as well as card readers (which read media cards
for cameras). USB drives will not show up until a flash drive is inserted into the port.

1.Without inserting your removable media yet, open a My Computer or Computer

window by either:

Double-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop.

Start menu > My Computer or Computer
A window opens that shows icons for each drive on the computer and
for certain special folders.
2.Look for an icon for your removable media drive. If you are using a permanently
attached drive like a Zip drive, you will see an icon for it. If you are using a USB flash
drive, you will not see it in the list yet.
The example above shows 5 hard disk drives, which are actually separate partitions of a
single physical drive. Under Devices with Removable Storage, there is a floppy drive A:,
a CD drive I:, and several removable disk drives, H:, J:, K:, and L:.

H: is a Zip drive that is installed in a bay in the computer. J:, K:, and L: represent
different slots in a USB device that reads three different media used in cameras. Drives
H:, J:, K:, and L: are showing even though they do not have media in them at this time.

There are no USB flash drives are showing because no USB drives are currently
connected. A confusing difference!

3. Insert your removable media. An icon appears with a drive letter that depends on
how many other drives you have. A USB drive can have a letter assigned permanently.
4. You should hear a sound that indicates that Windows has found a new device.
AutoPlay will look for an Auto Run command. In some situations, a window will open to
show the contents of the drive.

Problem: Message - the drive needs

to be formatted
This message may be sent because there
is a serious problem with your disk, but the
problem might be with what you connect it
to or insert into.
• Physical problem:
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 the bent connector, and try again. My Computer now shows a USB device

• Data problem:
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 on a floppy disk, but it can still
* What you do:
Re-format the disk and use it again, if there is no physical damage. Your data is lost. Be
SURE that the problem is with the disk and not what you plugged it into!

Reformatting a flash drive is not recommended unless absolutely necessary.

Sometimes a flash drive is not readable in one computer but can be read by another
computer. Be SURE your drive is dead before trying to reformat. Remember also, if a
flash drive was removed incorrectly (not with Safely Remove Hardware), the computer
may fail to see a new device on that connector until after the computer has been
Reminders on care of removable media

• Label it with your name! If the device is too small to write on, put a file on the
device at the top of the folder tree that tells whose device it is.
• Keep away from heat.
• Keep away from magnets, even small ones!
• Keep away from smoke, dust, crumbs and dirt.
• Don't bend or put heavy weights on it.
• Don't spill anything on it.

It's not a good idea to carry removable media loose in your purse or in your pocket.
It's too easy to damage one this way.