Common Flash Drive Mistakes We Make

By · Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Common Flash Drive Mistakes Plug and play seems simple enough and on the majority of occasions, that’s all you really have to deal with for your custom USB flash drive.  However, we’re prone to make blunders along the way and have things go wrong.  So, what are the biggest flash drive mistakes we make?  There are plenty of them, and you may do a lot of these things without even knowing it.  We’ve compiled a list of “don’ts” that when avoided, could help improve the performance of your storage device as well as save you from some headaches.

Mistake #1: You unplug your USB flash drive without using the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon in the system tray.

Why it’s bad: When your custom USB drive is plugged in, it is essentially in constant communication with your computer whether you realize it or not.  An abrupt removal will interrupt this flow of information and data will be lost.  Using this system function will shut down communication properly so this does not happen.

Mistake #2: You start using a random flash drive you found laying around the office, parking lot or other public place.

Why it’s bad: Think of a found flash drive like a toothbrush—you don’t know where it’s been, so it’s probably not the best idea to use it.  There have been several reported cases of malware spreading to computer systems via virus-packed flash drives.  Individuals who add malware in this manner are looking to cripple networks and steal file information.

Mistake #3: Leaving your flash drive unprotected.

Why it’s bad: In the same way that flash drives can pose a threat to computers, the opposite is also true.  Their portability makes them versatile to use with any computer, but every computer offers different malware protection.  As a precaution, you should equip your USB drive with free antivirus software.

Mistake #4: Not grounding yourself to a metal object when plugging it in.

Why it’s bad: Electro static discharge (ESD).  This flash drive issue can cause problems when static electricity is flowing between you and another object.  If you and your device experience static shock when inserting it into the USB port, you run the risk of damaging your flash drive’s components, as well as the guts of your computer.

Mistake #5: Forgetting to format your flash drive.

Why it’s bad: Without flash drive formatting, the USB drive may not be able to properly connect to your computer, causing it to be unrecognizable.  Additionally, a lack of formatting does not allow corruption or errors to be fixed.  With proper formatting, your device can perform at optimum levels, use new software or wipe you’re the file contents clean.

Mistake #6: Forcing flash drive insertion into USB port.

Why it’s bad: The alignment of the connector and port only works one way.  By forcing it when it’s plugged in at the wrong orientation, you will likely cause significant damage to the components.

Mistake #7: Editing documents and other files directly from the flash drive.

Why it’s bad: Your flash drive is equipped with a finite number of write cycles—with a basic drive approximately 10,000 to 100,000.  The less you work directly from the flash drive, the better, especially if you’re on your own private computer.  (However, if you are on a public shared computer, working from your flash drive may be a better option to keep your files from getting left behind.)

Can you think of additional flash drive mistakes that you or someone you know has made?  Tell us your story below!



For the past 3 years I’ve had an 8GB flash drive installed for ReadyBoost, with Win Vista using half of it (4090 MB).

For the past few months I’ve been getting all types of errors, usually not all at the same time: BSODs, BIOS ROM checksum error, long beep-short beep, etc.

I ain’t a techie, but think I’m an advanced user – could it be that it’s running out of the “finite number of write cycles…10,000 to 100,000″? Thanks.

P.S. Win Vista has all updates to present, the USB port and drive are 2.0, formatted in NTSF.

Hi Jay,
Most likely you have not used up the finite number of write cycles, unless you’ve been writing and erasing dozens of times every single day. Check to see if you have the proper USB drivers. Also, what is your wear leveling like on the USB?