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Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video

Genie 15 Feb 10 - 06:50 PM
Bill D 15 Feb 10 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,DWR 15 Feb 10 - 08:28 PM
GUEST,DWR 15 Feb 10 - 08:40 PM
Genie 15 Feb 10 - 08:44 PM
Genie 15 Feb 10 - 08:50 PM
Rowan 15 Feb 10 - 08:56 PM
Genie 15 Feb 10 - 08:59 PM
Rowan 15 Feb 10 - 09:11 PM
Bill D 15 Feb 10 - 09:17 PM
Genie 15 Feb 10 - 09:40 PM
Geoff the Duck 16 Feb 10 - 04:37 PM
JohnInKansas 16 Feb 10 - 05:59 PM
Genie 16 Feb 10 - 09:35 PM
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Subject: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Genie
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 06:50 PM

This may be a dumb question, but I'm wondering if flash drives are system-specific (e.g. do some only work with Windows, are some better for Mac) and also if some are better for storing audio and video files than others.

I'm looking to buy one or two more, with 4 to 8 GB capacity, and some look like great buys (e.g., 8 GB for $20), but I'm not sure if they're all formattable for Mac (OS X or OS 9). I also don't know if any manufacturers are known for making problematic flash drives.

I could research this on 'puter sites, but I'd have to set up accounts and probably wade through a lot of geek talk before getting an answer, and I know some of you 'cats (like Amos) are geek enough to give a quick answer or at least opinion.

Overstock.com has an 8 gig flash that's available for $1 shipping, $19.95 for the drive, today only.
SanDisk 8 GB Cruzer Gator USB 2.0

Any opinions?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:07 PM

I don't remember hearing any information that it made any difference what format...PC or Mac... but the brands with names... such as SanDisk or Kingston... will usually have features that help-- such as showing names in the list of drives, rather than just generic listings.

They also usually have retractable connection and better construction.

I have used both a couple cheap ones and one good one, and all 'functioned' fine, but one cheap one had a cheap plastic cover, which broke off a piece. I don't use these a lot, so I felt safe saving 'some' money.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:28 PM

I don't know too much about other brands, but I have two 8G SanDisk Cruzers. One is only a few months old, and the other I've probably had a year to a year and a half. Both do a very adequate job, no worries, no problems.

I think you can walk into your local Walmart and get them for the same price you mention. Their website says it supports both PC and Mac. Check the sandisk.com site for more info on what is available and what it can do.

Dale


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:40 PM

A couple of other things.

If you decide on the SanDisk, DO NOT keep the U3 software! First thing to do when you get it is to remove the U3 crap. You don't need it, and likely would never use it. I think they have instructions now on how to get rid of it, too many customer complaints.

The other thing is to put in a folder for portable apps. I have portable Foxfire, portable VLC and portable Audacity. This means you can plug your jump drive into somebody else's computer, and PRESTO, it becomes yours with your bookmarks, etc. You may need other apps, so just google portable apps to see what is available.

When I don't want to take my laptop to school, that's what I do with a school machine. It effectively becomes "my" machine, not someone else's idea of what it should be. Take out the jump drive when you're finished and you're on your way. Oh, and you'll need a folder for all your saved files.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Genie
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:44 PM

Thanks, Bill and DWR.

I won't darken the door of a Wal-Mart if I have any reasonable alternatives. Not that Office Max is a lot better, but they have a Verbatim 8 gig flash on sale today for $19.99. But if I can save the time and gas it would cost to drive to a store 4 or 5 miles away by ordering one online for a $1 S&H fee, I prefer that option.

I'll check the SanDisk site for more specs. But I was wondering whether most external hard drives (flash and otherwise) are flexible format.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Genie
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:50 PM

Oh, and thanks for the other tips, DWR.

My purpose for a multi-gig flash drive is mainly to be able to back up really key files such as my address book, important current business files, and maybe even a new video event or two without carrying my larger external hard drive(s) around with me.    It's nice to have one that's so small and compact. (Of course, that comes with risk of easy loss, as with the 1-gig flash drive that dropped out of my fanny pack at the Grateful Bread Coffee House in Seattle a month or two ago.
Fortunately, they're a good bunch of folks and they called me to tell me they had it and would hold it for me.)

Yeah, it could be very important to be able to use the files on another computer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Rowan
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:56 PM

All the various flash drives I've had do both Mac and Windows equally well. The SanDisk ones usually come with U3, which I don't bother with; it has no affect on Mac (apart from taking up a bit of space) and I use Windows so little I can avoid it easily. They also seem to have a partition set up as a CD drive that I haven't yet worked out how to get rid of. It takes up little room (probably because I don't use it) and its presence bothers me not as I mostly use my flash drives to transfer files between computers at work (where I have internet access) and computers at home, where I don't.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure you can do a basic reformatting of any flash drive to accept whichever OS as its native system.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Genie
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:59 PM

Yeah, Rowan, the sandisk site says "Linux and Mac OS® X v10.1.2+ (U3 functionality is not supported under Linux or Mac OS (any version), but device is MSC." And I was wondering WTF this "U3 functionality" was that wouldn't be supported on my Macs.   

As long as this U3 thingy doesn't take up any sizeable portion of my 8 gigs, I'm fine with not being able to use it. But what the heck would it do if I could?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Rowan
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 09:11 PM

I gather U3 is a way of organising files when you're using Windows and I suspect, for those who are already adept at dealing with Windows at depth, U3 is just a pain in the rear end.

You should be able to find out how much space it takes up and, if you find it excessive, delete it, with no ill effects.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 09:17 PM

Once you get a drive, here's a little application to keep trick of what is on it. You can have portable browsers, file managers, image viewers...etc... and that site has the best list of portable applications I know of. As DWR says, this lets YOU control how you use any machine you happen to use.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Genie
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 09:40 PM

Thanks folks, very helpful.

I went ahead and ordered the SamDisk, for less than half the price samdisk.com wants for it, incuding the shipping.    Your suggestions will help me get the most out of it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 04:37 PM

Just a warning - Flash drives are very handy and I found the portable Apps suite incredibly useful moving between Windoze PCs - BUT they can be unreliable long-term. We have had two separate Flash Drives fail without warning. One didn't have anything serious on it, but the other contained work which wasn't backed up elsewhere.
According to a computer technician, they only support a limited number of "save" operations before they fail. His advice was never to work on a file while it is on the drive, things such as Word documents will auto-save and every save is one subtracted from the total before it fails. Advice was to only use it to transfer files between computers, do the work and save it on a computer hard drive, then copy the file back onto the flash drive. That way you only save once rather than an indefinite number of times. Other advice was to always keep the contents backed up on one or more computer, so if it fries your data it is not completely lost.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 05:59 PM

For as simple a rundown as I could find, you might want to look at How to use a USB flash drive at Wellesley College.

(I was going to shorten the link display, but "how to flash at Wellesley" didn't sound quite right.)

Note down at the bottom of the page at "Notes and Cautions" the comment that you can probably use a flash drive interchangeably between PC and Mac if the flash drive is formatted in a PC as FAT32.

I don't know that any other format is commonly used on flash drives. You probably can reformat a flash drive, but since it's a USB device it needs to have "PNP identification information" on it, and a simple format by the PC may not save/recover the correct info for the flash drive to be recognized correctly. Most flash drives come with some small files preinstalled, and copying them off before formatting and then restoring them after the new format might be enough to keep them working; but I'd recommend a search for instructions before attempting it. The flash drive makers should have format utilities and instructions on their websites if they're needed; but I haven't had occasion to look for them.

The note also states that "not all files are compatible with both platforms." You should be able to save these files from Mac and back to Mac, or from PC and back to PC; but you won't be able to save from one OS and then save them back to the other OS in usable form.

Flash drives are similar to the memory cards used in some cameras and may have the same "formatting" difficulties." In the camera case, you should always use the camera to reformat the card. You can reformat one using the computer's format utility but it's unlikely to work reliably in the camera if you do.

I haven't heard of a limit on number of rewrites on flash drives, and some flash drives are commonly used with some computers as supplemental RAM, where they would approach "infinitely many rewrites." I'm dubious about this info. I have had enough "early failures" on a few flash drives to question their reliability as a place to put the only copy of critical info; but I think there were other reasons for those failures.

A very real limit on rewrites is well known for CD-R/W disks, but that's a rather different animal.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Flash drives: best ones for music, video
From: Genie
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 09:35 PM

Geoff, you say flash drives can be unreliable long-term? You've had two separate Flash Drives fail without warning. One didn't have anything serious on it, but the other contained work which wasn't backed up elsewhere?

Heck, that happened to my 1-year-old MacBook hard drive in the summer of 2009. I lost quite a few GB of un-backed-up video files plus at least 4 or 5 weeks' worth of calendar, address, correspondence, and other documents. (That's why I use an online backup service now, especially for key files.)

But had I been in the habit of backing up my calendar file, address book and important business correspondence -- less than 1 GB in total -- on a daily basis onto a flash drive, that would have saved me weeks and weeks of reconstructive work.


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