thumbdrives

Can I Run Linux on a USB Key?

PopOS

Episode 1665

Glen from Florida

Glen wants to know if he should create a USB Key with Linux on it and boot to it. Leo says he can. It's called a Live Distro and just about every flavor of Linux does it. Leo likes PopOS. But understand that it will be a bit slower running off the USB key and eventually, it will wear out the USB key. But by then, you can decide if you want to install it or not, and they will probably offer that option on the distro. Will he still be able to see his Windows desktop? Leo says no. He will see the internal drive, but won't' be able to run Windows programs within it.

How Can I Recover Lost Data From My Computer?

Data Rescue

Episode 1638

John from Pasadena, CA

John wants to recover some data off a USB Thumb drive. Leo recommends RECUVA or PC Inspector for Windows. On the Mac, Leo recommends Data Rescue. It's not free though. But the fact is, when flash memory dies on a USB drive, it's pretty much dead. And if it doesn't mount, it's completely shot. The only option at that point is to take it to a professional and that would cost far more than it is worth. 

Why can't my PC read my thumb drive?

Episode 1322

Chap from Durango, CO

Chap has an old XP laptop and wants to know how he can transfer data from it to a USB thumb drive. He tried to and it didn't work. Leo wants to know first if the laptop can see it. If not, he should try another. Flash memory can die and the thumbdrive could just be bad. He should also try both USB ports. If nothing shows up, his USB port could be dirty or could have shorted out. That's not likely, though. He should try another USB device like a mouse and see if that will work.

How can I tell if a USB key I found is safe to use?

Episode 1310

Lex from Virginia

Lex uses Windows Defender, but he came across a thumb drive and wants to check it to see if it's safe to use. Leo says he really can't. If he plugs it in, and it's infected, it will compromise his system. Firmware can be modified on a thumb drive to contain malware as a payload, and it's undetectable. The worse part is not one USB drive manufacturer has done anything to correct the bug. Wired has a story on it.

How can I transfer my data to a new computer?

Episode 1275

Mark from Grand Rapids, MI

Mark bought a new computer for his daughter but the Windows Transfer Wizard transfer app doesn't work. What can he do to get her data to the new computer? Leo says that the Windows transfer utility doesn't work all the time and when it does, it may not get everything. So he just recommends getting an external hard drive or thumb drive, copying the data over and then plugging it in and copying it to the new computer. She won't get the settings or favorites, but she can get her data.