Sue Raabe <susies.stitches@...>
I feel pretty ignorant to ask this, but what is the purpose of formatting a USB drive, and how is it done? I have loads of designs stored that way, and have never formatted any of them. Does that put my designs at risk? I do have most of my designs on a portable hard drive as well as on the PC and flash drives (although I have no idea which is which!) I don't think I have many of purchased CD's backed up anywhere. Are they safe that way. or can they go bad? Thanks for educating me - I tend to jump in with both feet and get myself in trouble.
Asked the difference between ignorance and apathy, Jim doesn't know and doesn't care, but he says:
Formatting is a term applied to all forms of data storage media. It is a process of initializing the media for use by writing a directory, as well as scanning for defects and mapping them out. Over time the term has gotten misused a lot. In the case of a USB drive, they come pre-formatted from the factory so they are ready to use immediately. This is also true for hard drives. Different operating systems may use differing ways of accessing data, and it is sometimes necessary to reformat a drive to make it acceptable for a given system. This is true for PCs and Macs, although some formats can be used by both.
In the case of USB drives, plugging them into your machine for the first time accomplishes what most people call formatting, but is actually just creating folders on the device. It's also possible to format them in your computer by right-clicking the drive and choosing "Format". However you should NOT do this with all the USB devices you have, as they are already formatted and the formatting process will delete everything on the drive. This is also true for external hard drives.
Designs on USB and external disk drives are at risk for media failure. Hard drives, having mechanical components, wear out and fail. USB drives are not mechanical, but do have a finite lifetime. They can also be damaged by removing incorrectly from the computer. CDs generally don't fail, but are subject to scratching and dirt. You might want to consider getting a free DropBox account (www.dropbox.com), which would give you 2GB of storage in the "cloud". Backing up designs that way protects you from loss of media.