While the User Friendly Team decides on if they want to do any more episodes for this season of the radio show, we have some questions from our website and social media that Bill Sikkens, our Technology Expert, had planned on answering.

The first one was from Gary Lanson of Nashville, TN: – Should USB drives be used for storing files?

There is a wide variety of USB drives available, and as time goes on larger drives are becoming more affordable.

There is a wide variety of USB drives available, and as time goes on larger drives are becoming more affordable.

And Bill Answers: – USB Memory sticks are designed for temporary storage and transfer of files. These devices can be easily lost or damaged and as such are not recommended for long term storage or archival purposes.

Bill makes a very good point, but I have to admit that I keep a good many files on USB drives for quick and easy access just because I don’t have my backup drives sitting around at arms reach. These drives tend to house the same files for many years. I am pretty good about not losing items, but some of these drives can be incredibly small. So if you are a person likely to lose stuff, perhaps it would be wise to select a drive that is more colorful and bulky.

Our next question is from Betty in Atlanta, GA: – I have a number of CD’s with personal information. How do I destroy them so they can’t be stolen out of the trash? Can they be erased?

Bill’s response: – CD’s, DVD’s, and Blu-ray media created is in most cases permanent to the disc once written (there are some exceptions to this, but for this purpose rewriteable media works the same way). For permanent destruction of the data, it is recommended to shred the disc. Most mid-range paper shredders have a slot and can destroy media in the same way they destroy paper records. Another option is to check in your community for area “shred events” or check with most office supply or mail stores which in a lot of cases provide a destruction service. If you simply throw the disc in the trash it can be accessed, again like paper records, so you do want to make sure they are properly discarded before disposing of them.

Thinking about this topic of taking care of digital media safely reminds me that I still own 3.25 floppy disk media and zip disks that have data on them. I currently have no way of accessing these files. This is something to consider when upgrading to new systems that old data needs to be transferred to storage devices that are accessible.

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And our final question is from Chris Platt of Pittsburg, CA: – Is it ok to buy a computer without a DVD player built in? What if I want to watch a DVD?

Bill’s answer: – This is completely a personal decision. Most software can be accessed and downloaded online now, so it really depends on if you have older software that will require a media/DVD drive to install, or if you watch movies that are recorded on DVD discs. If you need the use of the drive often it is easier to buy a computer with one built in; however, another solution is to purchase an external DVD drive (usually about $30) if you don’t need it with you all the time. In a few years a DVD media drive will be like having a floppy disc – we are moving away from them.

Thanks for the great questions concerning digital storage.  Sorry that we were not able to answer these questions on air, but keep them coming and perhaps your question will be answered either on air in the future or even on our company blog.

Gretchen Winkler © 2014
Technology Artist
Cumulus Technology – the “We Are Technology” people