Flash drives, thumb drives, jump drives or whatever you want to call them are now more common in our work than ever before. Just as VHS tapes have almost disappeared from existence, flash drives are doing the same for discs. Personally I would like nothing better than to get out of the CD/DVD business. Although flash drive technology has become more convenient in storing and transporting large amounts of data, it has also been susceptible to security breaches. Unprotected data on a flash drive can be dangerous in our business. Because of their size, it is too easily for someone to walk out the door either intentional or unintentional with sensitive data.
Flash drives are still expensive depending on the size you need so not only do we have to be concerned about security but also we must be able to maintain costs. To maintain costs, you want to be able to recover flash drives. Honestly though, how many flash drives do we really get back? While it should just be a way of transporting data, it has become more of another means of storage. So, my dilemma has been: how can you increase the success on having flash drives returned?
The solution literally fell into my lap one day at the office.
I was working with one of our paralegals who handed me an envelope for data that needed to be offloaded. When I took the envelope, a credit card fell into my lap. I picked it up and it had the name of the agency on it. I didn’t recognize it immediately to be a flash drive. I found the tab on the card and rotated it to reveal the USB connector. Once I offloaded the data, I knew that I had to return the flash drive because the name of the agency was on the card.
Using the credit card style flash drives has many advantages. First, you can easily identify the source of the flash drive and increase the chances it will be returned. I see it much like when we would travel in Georgia when I was growing up and stopping at a gas station to use the rest room. I remember the gas station attendant having the bathroom keys attached to large blocks of wood or some other object to remind you to return the key. The credit card style flash drives have that same kind of accountability without attaching it to a cement block. Of course this doesn’t give you a 100% guarantee that the flash drive will be returned but I think it makes the odds much better.
The next thing I like about this style is that it is credit card size. It can easily be mailed or slipped into a file without the unnecessary bulk of most flash drives.
The only negative I can think of about using the credit card style flash drive is that because of the card part of the drive, it could make it difficult for users to plug it into the USB connection on the PC depending on where the user’s PC is located. I don’t see this as a huge issue since you can always get a USB cable extension or – move the PC.
The vehicle for our data is constantly changing. When I first began my career in litigation support we were still working with 3.5″ diskettes and VHS tapes. If there is one constant about our career field is that it is constantly changing. It is one of our challenges to make it as efficient as we can for our legal staff to transport the data we receive every day.
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