For Seniors: Understand a Laptop's File Storage Options
A laptop may appear to have limited storage options for your files, since it's self-contained. However, you laptop actually has many file storage options other than the hard drive that is built into it.
You may want to save copies of your files somewhere other than your laptop’s hard drive, just in case you lose your laptop or its hard drive fails. Or, you may want to copy a file onto a DVD so you can hand it on to a friend to read or work on.
You may also want to store files not on the hard drive, but in an alternate location, in order to make them more easily transportable between computers.
You have four main options for storing your laptop files:
Utilize a USB stick: You can purchase a USB stick (also called a flash drive) to store your files on. These are about the dimensions of a stick of gum (though designs vary — some are very tiny).
You insert the stick into a USB port on your laptop (most laptops have three or four of these). Then you can use Windows Explorer (or the Finder on a Mac) to copy files onto the drive.
Use a CD or DVD to store files, if your laptop has a CD/DVD slot: Some laptops, especially smaller ones like netbooks, don’t have a CD/DVD drive, but most do. You can slip a disc into your laptop just as you would a music CD or DVD you were going to play, and copy files to it.
Attach an external hard drive to your laptop: You can buy what amounts to a second hard drive and attach it to your laptop to store and retrieve files. This will run you around $50–$100, depending on the model and storage capacity.
The handy thing about this option is that you can then easily access your files from anywhere you have Internet access, using any computer and without carrying a separate storage device. It’s also a great way to share files (for example, photos or a set of meeting minutes) with others.