How To Use Your New Portable Hard Drive

Published: 30th July 2008
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A portable hard drive is relatively easy to install and use. Just plug it in and away you go! At least that's what they told you at the store. It's so simple that apparently you don't even need directions. This must be the reason why they didn't include any in the box. Now that you've got it home, just what exactly are you supposed to do with this thing?

Begin by Plugging in Your Portable Hard Drive
Your portable hard drive, also known as a USB drive, can be plugged into any of the USB ports on your computer. The little wire with the rectangle at the end of it is called a USB cable. It will only fit into a USB port. USB ports can be located on the front, side, and back of your computer. Manufacturers suggest that you use a USB port located on the back of your computer, and avoid plugging the portable hard drive into a USB hub. This practice ensures that you are using the best connection available, and cuts down on possible interference, but can oftentimes be rather inconvenient.

The rule of thumb is this: Plug your USB drive into any slot that it fits into. If the drive appears to be running slowly or doesn't show up on your computer, then try moving it to a slot on the back of your computer.

Now What?
After you've plugged your portable hard drive into your computer, two things will generally happen, indicating that it has been correctly plugged in. Your computer will make a beeping sound and a dialog box will appear in the lower right hand corner of your screen telling you that your computer has found new hardware.

The first time you plug your USB drive into your computer, wait a couple of minutes to let it install any drivers necessary before continuing. It will do this automatically. Once the drivers are installed, double-click your "My Computer" icon. Your portable hard drive will appear as a new drive letter. If it doesn't show up in My Computer, try plugging it into the back of your computer. If it still doesn't show up, you may need to partition and format your drive.

And Away You Go!
The most common uses for your portable hard drive are to either transport or make backups of your documents. These uses do not require that you install any special software. You can copy your files to it just as if it were your local hard drive. You can drag and drop your documents right onto the new drive letter listed in My Computer. You can save and edit your documents directly to your USB drive from your programs and applications. Then, you can bring them with you to other locations or store them in a safe place in case your computer crashes.

Removing Your Portable Hard Drive
Never remove your USB drive from your computer while you are copying files to it. This can corrupt your data and cause you to lose your files. The safest way to remove it is to click on the "Safely Remove Hardware icon" in the lower right hand corner of your taskbar.

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Laura Jones on September 14, 2011 said:
Thanks for this advice. I recently bought a new laptop and wanted to keep some of the files from the old laptop so I bought a portable hard drive. I was clueless as to how this works but this article really cleared things up for me so thank you.

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