USB Keychain Drives
USB keychain drives are one of the latest useful peripheral devices for computer data backup and transportation. They get their name from the fact that they are small enough and designed to conveniently attach to a key ring. They can be used in place of floppy or zip disks, and make backing up and transporting your data easy.
USB keychain drives are also called "flash drives" or "USB-based flash drives." They are in fact sold-state memory devices which have the ability to act as floppy disks or hard drives under most personal computer operating systems. The Lehigh University Bookstore will be selling the 128MB Lexar Media Jump Drive pictured in the photo above.
NOTE: Always check compatibility of devices with your hardware and operating system before purchasing. Some USB keychain drives are wider than others and may have difficulty fitting into the USB port due to its physical location on the computer.
USB devices work in Windows 98, 98 SE, 98 ME, 2000, and XP, Macintosh OS 8.6 and higher, and Linux. Under Windows 98 you may need to install a manufacturer's hardware device driver (typically included with your device or downloadable from the Internet). Although Windows 95 and NT are not do not officially support USB, some manufacturers have released 3rd party drivers which may allow USB devices to work under those operating systems.
There are two primary USB standards in use today: USB 1.1 and USB 2.0. Most USB devices have the "USB" or "High-Speed USB" logo (see below) on their packaging indicating what standard they support.
The new PCs at Lehigh public sites are equipped with USB 2.0 ports which are conveniently located on the front panel for easy access.
Using Your USB Keychain Drive
Inserting the Drive
To use your keychain drive, remove the protective cap. On a PC, insert it into a USB port on the front of the computer as shown in the photo to the left. On an iMac, insert it into the USB port on the side of the keyboard. After the computer has recognized that the drive has been inserted, you can begin using the drive immediately. Copy files to and from the drive - it will act just like any other floppy disk or hard drive. Windows explorer will display the drive as shown to the right (usually drive letter E:). Macintosh computers will simply display the volume (LEXAR_MEDIA) on the desktop.
Removing the Drive
When you are through working with the drive, PC users should click on the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the lower right corner of your screen, and choose "Safely Remove USB Mass Storage Device - Drive (E:)". It is then safe to remove the drive from the USB port. Macintosh users should drag the volume to the trashcan to eject. Remember to replace the protective cap on the drive connector.
Hardware Write Protection
Some USB keychain drives have a physical switch on them that allows you to write-protect your data. This prevents accidental deleting or over-writing of your valuable data. The switches are often very small and in a recessed area, so you may need a paper clip to change the position from write-enable to write-protect.
Some USB keychain drives come with security software allowing you to protect your data. In some cases, the drive can be set up with both a public area (which anyone can access), and a secure area (which can only be accessed with a password). Be aware that security software may require Windows XP or 2000 to function. Also be aware that some of these devices must have the security software installed on the computer itself; others run the security software directly from the USB keychain drive. Since you cannot load software on a public site computer, we suggest you avoid any security options which require software on the computer.
Like any electrical or data device, some care is needed to keep a keychain drive performing well. While most keychain drives are fairly rugged, they do break. One of the weakest parts of many keychain drives is the hole you actually use to clip it onto your key ring. Here are some suggestions and considerations: