All the Reasons to Use a Pen Drive

Pen drives or USB flash players are one of the latest storage devices which are both removable and insert able. All USB flash players are portable and very smaller in their size and it is available in the market with different styles and models. Why are they known as USB flash players? The answer is that it has flash memory capacity that is used in it. Normally it connects to the computer motherboard through the pen drive slot. The original name of this gadget is USB flash memory, but to catch the customer’s attention the manufacturers have given this particular name as pen drive.

A pen drive is a sleek and a compact computer gadget which is used as a memory flash for transferring data from one to other. It is a plug and play device. It as simply plugging into any USB port and the computer automatically detects it as another removable drive. It is possible to read, write, copy, delete and move data from hard disk to it and vice versa. It is also possible to play MP3 files, run any applications view videos or even take high quality digital photos directly from it.

There is variety of pen drives in the market. Professional models which has a high performance flash memory and performs up to read and write 20 MB- the fastest in the world. This flash memory stick comes with an LED indicator, boot function, and write and delete protection. It has got maximum weight of 22 grams. Mini USB pen-drive is another variety of it which has got same technical specifications of professional models but it comes with key ring. Because of how small it is, one can easily fit it into their pockets and are designed to imitate a small pen or pencil, hence being named “pen” drive.

Why pen drives are used more now days? What is the advantage of using this jump drive? The advantage is easily accessible and common for all. The main benefit of using it is that its scratch and dust proof. It can be easily carried from one place to another manages every day carrying and abuse. It helps to take some important data from one place to another easily, it is very much portable. The working of it is also very simple and easy. You should only connect it the USB plot. Professional models are costly comparing to the normal mini pen drives. The types of pen drives are pen drive professional, USB micro, USB mini, USNB compact, USB HDD-2GO, USB business drive. The last two of them are ultra fast data transfer and compact.

USB pen-drives are the best when it comes to removable storage device because of its portability and features that are easy to use. It is highly durable sleek and compact to the consumers. They are quiet suitable for casual users and are resistant to damage or other problems. They are versatile because of its ability to be used for many different things and can be easily used by students, employees, and network administrators.

External Hard Drives – History and Developments

When you think of a computer, chances are good that you imagine the case; the computer as a whole. However, what would you identify as the most important part of the computer? Would you point to the motherboard? Perhaps you would say that the processor is the most important part of a computer.

While these are certainly vital aspects to an operating computer, the disk drive is just as important. Over the years, they have undergone numerous changes and have evolved considerably. The first hard disks were technically “external” devices, because they sat outside the case, contained within protective covers. However, these would barely qualify as hard drives to modern users, as their capacity was measured at just 5MB.

The Earliest “External” Drives

The very earliest hard drives were external for all intents and purposes. This is because they were not mounted within the computer frame. These devices debuted in the late 1950s, could store 5MB of data and shipped with the first commercially available IBM systems. Over the next few decades, things did not change very much, as computer use was largely relegated to commercial interests and the home PC had yet to be invented.

Almost 30 years after the debut of those systems, IBM brought out the first gigabyte drive. This device was the size of a household refrigerator, and was a separate unit from the computer. It retailed for a whopping $40,000.

The Intervening Years

Between the debut of the personal computer and the release of what a modern consumer might recognize as an external hard drive, there were several innovations. However, most of these were strictly for internal drives, as the need for an external drive was not particularly great with early systems.

One of the first systems to make use of an external hard drive was Apple. Their computers often had drive bays that were difficult to access, and some had no hard drive within them at all. In an age where consumers were beginning to demand safer storage for their data, this could not work. Therefore, Apple introduced the ProFile in 1983. It worked by connecting to a special port on the back of the Apple II. This hard drive offered 5MB of disk space, though a 10MB was offered later as an upgrade.

It was during this time that internal drives began to take on their standard form factors. In fact, the shape of the hard drive stopped changing early on with the development and standardization of IDE technology, with a size and shape that any modern consumer would recognize. The most popular form factors have included 5.25″, 3.5″, 2.5″ and 1″ consumer form factors.

Additionally, any of these drives could be setup as an external drive, so long as power and data cables were able to be connected to the drive outside the computer case. Of course, these were not what most people would consider “removable media” in the sense of modern external hard drives, flash drives and other storage devices.

1998 and Beyond

The year was 1998, and a revolution was brewing in the computer industry. This was the time when the USB interface was introduced to computers. This ground-breaking technology enabled any type of device to connect directly with a computer from the outside, using the same type of interface. Previously, hard drives made use of a 40-pin connector and a power cable (internal types and most external types). However, with the advent of USB technology, this was to change.

This single technology allowed different external hard drive designs to proliferate. It also enabled the birth of other removable media, such as the flash drive (thumb drive). Of course, the first external USB drives were bulky things, due to the technology available in 1998. However, as the new century approached, technology became better and better.

As more efficient power sources and cooling solutions were developed, the size of external drives shrank. Once clunky and cumbersome, these drives became streamlined and small. Today, you can find myriad different sizes on the market. The most popular type (for consumers, at any rate) is a bit larger than a thick paperback book. However, these solutions are not intended to be portable. Manufacturers designed these for backup and storage where the drive stays in one place, and might hold several terabytes of data.

Portable external drives were soon to hit the market. These offered storage capacity in the hundreds of gigabytes, though they did not rival larger drives in terms of storage. Portable drives became extremely popular, particularly with those who used the drive at work and at home, as well as with students who needed their data available to them on numerous computers in different locations.

An interesting development that has coincided with the growth of home networking is the ability to store data on an external drive connected to the network. These drives must be connected to the home network router, but they do not have to be connected to a computer in order to function. The router acts as a gateway, enabling data transfer between the computers and other devices within a home and the hard drive. This is an excellent solution for homes where media is used heavily, and many drives have specific built-in servers for different media types, including iTunes, games and movies.

A Glimpse of the Future

In the future, the external hard drive is expected to assume more and more a central role in home computer use. As computing devices shrink and “tablets” and netbooks come to the fore as preferred technology, external drives will need to be available for immediate access to stored data and to provide immediate backup, as well. Consumers will come to demand that these devices be able to integrate with their network, and new advances in technology will likely provide some innovative solutions. Some examples include integrated router/hard drive units, as well as central server/hard drive solutions for media and entertainment purposes.

Pen Drive – History and Facts

Often referred to as a jumpdrive, the pen drive is a portable flash memory solution, designed to transport data files from one computer to another. The product can carry audio, video and data files, and is brilliantly simple; all the user has to do is plug the pen drive into a computer`s USB port, drag and drop the necessary files from the hard drive, remove it and plug it into another machine.

Durable, portable and scratch-resistant, the pen drive is a marked improvement on previous data transportation devices, such as the CD and floppy disk, and a source of constant relief and graduate for millions of people the world over.

The history

At the dawn of the new Millennium, it became clear that traditional storage solutions were no longer up to the job. People now needed to move large files between computers in the blink of eye, using intermediary technology which was quick to set up, easy to carry and hard to damage. A clutch of software companies, including SanDisk (then known as M-Systems), Lexar, Trek and IBM began working on a solution that would meet these needs.

Their solution was the revolutionary USB flash drive, which was gradually developed in the last years of the 20th century. In 2000 Trek rolled out the first-ever flash drive, named Thumb Drive, in Singapore, with IBM introducing a similar model to the North American market. Just a few months later Lexar introduced a Compact Flash (CF) card with a USB connection, and a companion card read/writer and USB cable; this eliminated the need for a USB hub, and allowed the pen/flash drive to enjoy meteoric growth over the next decade.

How it works

Each pen drive comprises a tiny Printed Circuit Board (or PCB) to store data, a USB connector, and a NAND flash memory chip using multicell level technology; this groundbreaking solution was first developed by SanDisk and Toshiba in 2005. The constituent technologies are encased within a tough outer shell, manufactured in metal, rubber or plastic, and the USB connector may be sheathed in an outer cap or protected by a retractable strip, which allows the user to withdraw the connector when not in use.

The name pen drive is actually an anachronism; drives typically rely on mechanical systems, but this little gem does not. The term drive remains as a vestigial nod to the past because computers read and write flash-drive data using the same system commands as for a mechanical disk drive, with the storage appearing to the computer operating system and user interface as just another drive.

Meteoric growth

In less than 10 years the pen drive has evolved from an optional extra for the technologically savvy into an indispensable staple for all computer users. People have found more and more reasons to use a pen drive, and they have been encouraged by rapid increases in storage capacity; the early pen drives had room for just 8MB, but this soon increased as the technology improved – today you can pick up a pen drive with capacity of 128GB, provided you are willing to pay top dollar for the privilege.

The growth of the pen drive has rendered the good-old floppy disk almost obsolete. Until 2005 most PCs were fitted with floppy disk drives as standard. Now, faced with the ubiquity of the pen drive, designers are leaving out the old drives and fitting USB ports instead. The revolution is nearly complete!

Turn a Physical Linux or Windows Machine Into A Virtual Machine for Free

We will be focusing on creating this masterpiece in the Windows environment, but dont worry the same principles can be used in any operating system that can run Virtual Box.

List of Software and Hardware needed:

Software:

-Virtual Box and Extension Pack

-Windows 7 or higher PC or most any Linux Distro

-Redo Backup and Recovery ISO

-YUMI installer

Hardware:

-USB flash drive

-USB hard drive

The overall benefits of performing this procedure is three fold. One, cost savings on power, climate control and space required will be seen instantly. Two, manageability and scalability dramatically increases due to working with virtual disks and virtual networks that can scaled up or down with finer grained control. Three, redundancy and faster disaster recovery that is provided by cloud services. Especially when tied into your already existing network infrastructure for a seamless transition when disaster strikes.

While this process can be completed in numerous ways with different software, this is the way that I am familiar with and all the tools needed are free.

Sounds daunting? No sweat, but where do we start first?

Well, we need to get an image of the physical machine onto removable media (USB hard drive). I recommend a USB hard drive vs. just a USB flash drive due to the space the image will take up. We will also need a USB flash drive at least 2 GB in size to use as a bootable media for Redo Backup and Recovery.

Plug the USB hard drive into your USB port and open up the folder structure. Create a folder in a location that you can remember i.e D:”Your Computer’s Name”. This is the location where we will install the files from our initial physical image copy to. After this is complete, eject your USB hard drive by right clicking on the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon in your taskbar and click on Eject “whatever your USB hard drive is named”, unplug the USB HDD.

Next, we need to create a bootable USB to load Redo Backup and Recovery on. Download a small program called “YUMI”. YUMI will create a bootable USB flash drive for Redo Backup and Recovery on it. Also grab a copy of Redo Backup and Recovery, save both files to your desktop or location of choice.

Now, run YUMI and choose your USB flash drive from the list (Remember to choose your USB drive and not your USB HDD that should be unplugged anyway!). Choose “Redo Backup and Recovery” from the software list that you can create an installer for. Click the “Browse” button to look for the Redo Backup and Recovery.iso to include on the install. Finally click on “create” to start the bootable Redo Backup and Recovery bootable USB creation process. When this is done, YUMI will ask you if you want to add any more distros, just say “no”. Eject your USB out of the computer using the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon in your taskbar and click on Eject “whatever your USB flash drive is named” and unplug the USB flash drive. Please keep Redo Backup and Recovery.iso we will need it later.

Make sure that the physical computer that you would like to virtualize is in a powered down state, if not please power down the computer. Insert only the USB flash drive into the computer. Power up the computer and press the correct key to access to boot menu or make sure that the USB drive is set to boot before the computers internal hard drive. Choose the USB entry to boot from, YUMI should now load. Choose the entry for “Tools” then “Redo Backup and Recovery”. Press enter on the Redo menu to start the mini recovery O/S. When Redo Backup and Recovery is loaded, insert your USB HDD and give it about 20 seconds.

Open Redo Backup and Recovery Software:

1. Choose “Backup”

2. Choose your disk to backup (your physical computer’s disk)

3. Choose your partitions to backup (typically it would be all partitions and MBR)

4. On the “Destination Drive” screen choose “Connected directly to my computer” and click browse.

5. Locate the file folder we made earlier i.e D:”Your Computer’s Name” click OK.

6. Choose a name for the disk image. I will usually choose the date, click next. The backup process will take anywhere from 1 hr to 3 hrs depending on hard drive capacity and computer speed.

Congratulations, at this point you have made a full backup of your physical machine. Please click “Close” on the Redo and Recovery Backup program and choose the power button in the bottom right corner of your screen. Select “Shutdown” and let the computer shutdown. Remove both USB flash drive and USB HDD and boot up any computer that has Windows 7 or higher installed on it.

Now, lets turn that physical machine into a virtual machine!

Open up Virtual Box and choose “New”. Give your Virtual Machine a name and choose the type of virtual machine it will be as well as the version. Choose your memory size, I usually a lot 2 GB=2048 MB if I plan on running it on a machine that has 4 GB of ram physically installed. Create a new hard drive, choose VHD as the hard drive file type, click next. Choose “Dynamically allocated” for the storage, click next. Give your VHD hard drive a name, I will usually name it by whats running on it, hence name it what you named your computer. Make the VHD hard drive large enough to store your operating system, I will usually choose 200GB to be on the safe side. Again this depends on how big your physical machine’s data was. You are now returned to the Virtual Box Manager screen with your new VM present. Make sure your Virtual Box extension has been installed. Obtain the extension for your software version and install it like so:

In Virtual Box, click File–>Preferences–>Extensions–>Add Package–>Locate extension file and select it. It will be automatically installed.

Prepare the conversion! Use only Option A or Option B:

Option A: If you can get USB support working in Virtual Box:

Make sure that you have installed the extension pack and setup USB access properly, if you are having some troubles, refer to the Virtual Box document here:

https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch03.html#idp55342960

In Virtual Box, click on your VM name and choose “Settings” at the top, choose “Storage”. Click on the empty CD/DVD icon and then the CD/DVD icon on the right under “Attributes” and select your Redo Backup and Recovery ISO and click “OK”. At this point you have the Redo Backup and Recovery.iso at the ready and a blank VHD to install to. All you need to do now is insert your USB hard drive and skip over Option B because you do not need to perform it.

Option B: If you cannot get USB support to work in Virtual Box. No problem, its what happened to me so I found a way around it.

In Virtual Box, click on your VM name and choose “Settings” at the top, choose “Storage”, choose “Add hard disk” next to Controller:Sata or Controller:IDE whatever you have. Choose “Create new disk”, choose VHD and again make it 200GB Dynamically allocated and name it “Installer”. Underneath “Storage Tree” click on the empty CD/DVD icon and then the CD/DVD icon on the right under “Attributes” and select your Redo Backup and Recovery ISO and click “OK”. At this point you have the Redo Backup and Recovery.iso at the ready and a blank VHD which is named after your computer and another black VHD named Installer. Now close Virtual Box and right click on “Computer” and choose “Manage”. Left click on “Disk Management” then right click on “Disk Management” again and choose “Attach VHD”. Browse for the location of your Installer VHD that you created in Virtual Box, usually in the “My Documents” folder and click okay. Now you can copy the physical computer backup image that we took earlier from D:”Your Computer’s Name” to Installer VHD. After the contents have been copied, right click on computer management again and click on “Detach VHD”. Open up Virtual Box and proceed to the next step.

Lets Convert This Thing!

Once you have either USB support or the Installer VHD setup and the Redo Backup and Recovery ISO mounted. Press “Start” on your VM name in Virtual Box. You will be met the familiar Redo Backup and Recovery boot menu, press enter to proceed. Launch the Backup and Recovery program if it did not start automatically. Choose “Restore”. In a nutshell, you will choose where your Image backup is “The Source Drive” (your USB HDD or Installer VHD if applicable) and where to install the image (blank VHD named after your computer). After you have chosen to install into the blank VHD, confirm the prompt to overite any data and let the recovery process begin. After this is finished, click close and shutdown Backup and Recovery as you did before. The VM should stop running. Click on “Settings” from the Virtual Box Manager and unmount the Backup and Recovery ISO and the Installer VHD if applicable. Leave your VHD with the name of your computer or whatever you named it and click on “OK” to go back to the Virtual Box Manager. Click on “Start”, you should now be looking at a fully virtualized version of your physical computer!

Celebrate the many uses of this power little VHD!

You can transport this VHD and include it in any Virtual Box VM instance or even VMware if you are so inclined. You can run it on your local premises or deploy it in the cloud. A cloud instance of this VM would either require running Virtual Box on your cloud computing instance, or running it natively in your cloud computing space if the hosting provider supports it.

Common Gotchas and Troubleshooting:

Q: When trying to run my Linux based virtual machine, I get ” not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(0,0) “?

A: This is because in the backup and recovery process all the entries for hda##, hdb## and so forth have been converted to sda## extc. First, copy your precious VHD so you wont lose your work if something goes wrong. Then all you will have to do is mount Backup and Recovery ISO, start your VM again and bring up a terminal session. Mount the Root partition and edit the entries in GRUB or Lilo to the proper boot device. For example: in GRUB, the entries are inlcuded in menu.Ist and fstab. In Lilo they are included in /etc/lilo.config and then /sbin/lilo -v to write the changes.

Q: When trying to run my Windows based virtual machine I get a boot error?

A: Obtain a copy or a Windows disc and mount it inside of Virtual Box making sure it is set to boot first. Choose the “Repair” option. Choose “Start Up Repair” and let it run. If this does not do the trick, go back into the “Repair” option and choose “Command Prompt”. Try these commands one at a time, shutting down and unmounting the Windows disc each time to check if the problem has been corrected:

bootrec.exe /FixMbr. Then restart to see if resolved. If no result, try:

bootrec.exe /FixBoot. Then restart to see if resolved. If no result, try:

bootrec.exe /RebuildBcd. Then restart to see if resolved. If no result, try:

You may have to remove your BCD folder by running these commands one line at a time without quotes:

“bcdedit /export C:BCD_Backup

c: <—- Only if your Windows installation is installed on C:

cd boot

attrib bcd -s -h -r

ren c:bootbcd bcd.old

bootrec /RebuildBcd”