Tom says his computer thumb drive is very hot. Should he be concerned? Leo says thumb drives can get pretty hot and the tolerances are designed to be that way, but most modern electronics are designed to stay under 100 degrees C. So if it's so hot that you can't touch it, then that can be cause for concern. It'll make the drive less reliable and over time, it'll wear out prematurely. But it's within normal limits for the drive to run warm or hot. Just not scalding. Especially when it's not doing anything. That's when Leo would throw it away.
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.
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.
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.
Larry bought a 1TB thumb drive, but after a week, his computer couldn't read it. Leo says that it's likely a counterfeit and a terrible one at that. It's probably a bad card from a cheap provider.
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.
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.
Jack wants to password protect a thumb drive. Leo says one way he can do this is to encrypt the drive. He can also use BitLocker in Windows to do it. He can just right click the thumb drive and select the encrypt option. A third party option is TrueCrypt.
Eric wants to play with Linux, but he doesn't want to write over his existing OS. He wants to write an ISO of Linux on a USB stick and then boot to it. Leo says that the installer for Linux should do that. Other options include Rufus.akeo.ie. Unetbootin is another. Leo does that with a wide variety of OS's on USB keys.
Mark has two thumbdrives hooked into a PogoPlug connected to his MacBook Air, but now his drives are read only. Leo says that drives can end up read-only when they're damaged. If he removed the thumbdrive without ejecting it, it could have damaged it. Leo says he can pull the data off it and then reformat the thumbdrive.