Tech Tip: USB Drives

I’m sure I’m not the only one in love with the USB drive. They are also called Flash drives or thumb drives. These neat things are about the size of your thumb (thus that name), don’t have any moving parts because they utilize Flash memory (thus that name), and plug into USB 2.0 ports allowing them to draw power and be seen as a new piece of hardware (and finally, that name’s origin is revealed).

Since they have no moving parts, they are very durable. I had no idea how durable until this past weekend.

I usually carry my flash drive in my pocket when I’m at work. It has all of my files from the last 8 years on it. You never know when it will be handy to have it. Maybe I’ll need to print out the page from the sequels notebook so someone will know the correct order for the Mitford series. Maybe I can use it to rescue someone from losing a file on one of the computers because the floppy drive died on them and the machine has no Internet connection. Sometimes I forget to take it out of my pocket at the end of the day.

I left work last Thursday and rushed home to meet my husband for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Because I’m currently working at a branch far from home, I felt pressed for time to beat the dinner rush, so I forgot to take the drive out of my pocket. We got to the restaurant and as I was sitting down in the booth, a huge splash of salsa appeared on my pants from out of nowhere. As you might imagine, salsa on my khaki pants was not a good development.

We ate dinner anyway and went back home. I tossed the pants into the washing machine. Some color safe bleach went in the mix, and I made sure to set it for an extra rinse and spin. I went about other tasks until the load was done. When I opened the lid, I realized two things. First, I had left a scrap of paper in my pocket and bits of it were all over the machine. More importantly, I realized that I had left my USB drive in my pocket. I had a back up from a couple months ago so I wasn’t horrified, but I was quite upset.

I told my husband about it. He said that if I waited a couple of days for the water in the drive to evaporate, it would be fine. Apparently when companies recondition computers, they sometimes wash the motherboards in washing machines and they’re beautifully clean and perfectly functional as long as they’re allowed to dry out completely. (Don’t expect the same results if you find the drive in the drier, though. The high temperatures there would most likely melt things inside the drive.)

I’m happy to report that my USB drive is fine. I thought I should pass along my experience in case someone else without a technosavvy spouse washes their thumb drive!

One thought on “Tech Tip: USB Drives

  1. I would just like to say that I completely agree with you. I love flash drives. They have saved my life on so many occasions.