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Another common device you'll most likely to use at some point or another is an external hard-drive or storage device. An external drive can be a simple flash or thumb drive like this one. these typically plug into your computer's USB port, and have capacities of around 128 gigabytes or under. For significantly more storage space, you'll have to go with an external hard-drive like this one. These also can connect to your PC via USB. They often require that you plug them into their own power outlet as well although you'll find some models that are powered through the USB port. Using an external hard-drive or thumb drive is simply a matter of plugging it into your PC.
I will just go ahead and plug in my thumb drive now. After a moment you should see this AutoPlay window up here. By default the AutoPlay window appears anytime you connect or insert an external hard drive, a flash drive, CD or DVD and it essentially asks you what you wan to do with this storage device is detected. Notice the options in this case are Import pictures and videos, Download images, Open folder to view files, Use this drive for back up, Speed up my system. Since I just want to view the contents of the drive, I will choose Open folder to view files. Now I am looking at the contents of my thumb drive that I plugged in to my PC.
Now if the AutoPlay window didn't show up for you, your preferences might have changed. The quickest way to get to your AutoPlay settings is to click the Start button, click in the Search field and type AutoPlay. And in the results that show up click AutoPlay. , Here just make sure Use AutoPlay for all media and devices is checked. Incidentally, this is also where you can come to set the default actions of what your PC does when certain types of media are detected on the disks and drives you connect to your computer. So for instance, I could say anytime my computer detects an audio CD has been inserted I could choose to play the audio CD using Windows Media Player, Open a folder, Take no action or Ask me every time.
That's pretty much the same choice you have for all the different items here. I will just cancel that to close it. Now some people do prefer to keep AutoPlay off, so it doesn't bug them every time it detects a new disk or drive and with AutoPlay disabled you can still easily and quickly access your hard drive by clicking Start and then choosing Computer. External hard drives will show up under Hard Disk Drives and if you inserted a thumb drive you will find it under Devices with Removable Storage. In this case my removable thumb drive is Disk (E:) so I can click that and you can see those are the same contents we were looking at earlier.
But whatever the case may be, once you can see your storage device you are free to copy files to and from it by dragging them on and off. Essentially, the external drive acts just like any other folder in that you can create new folders on the drive, add any files to it as long as they fit on the drive, and you can also drag files to the Recycle Bin to get rid of them. For example, here on my flash drive, I'll click the New Folder button to create a new folder and then let's say I just changed my mind. I will drag that New Folder to the Recycle Bin and say yes, I do want to delete the folder.
You can also access your external hard drive from any application you are trying to save a file from. So for instance I could Notepad, type some text, and then choose File > Save. Notice my external hard drive, Removable Disk (E:), shows up just like any other drive or location on my computer. So I can select it, name my file call this some text and click Save and if I go back to the Window for my thumb drive you can see that some text has been saved here on the thumb drive.
Now when it comes time to unplug or remove your external storage device you want to make absolutely sure that no applications are using the drive. For example, you don't want to be working on a document that's stored on the drive and then unplug the drive before you have a chance to save and close the file. So in this case I want to make sure that I close Notepad and now I can just unplug the flash drive and it's gone. If I need to get to it or its contents again I just plug it back in. That's how you work with external storage devices on your PC.
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