Need to pull folders/files off computer. Thumbdrive/flashdrive?
May 17, 2019 9:51 PM   Subscribe

So for Reasons, I am dismantling my Dell Inspiron One Desktop Computer. But I probably need some folders/files. I have emailed myself some of the files but … not certain that is sufficient. The computer, circa 2006 or 2010, is going on a shelf. I am moving to an MS Surface Pro 4 circa 2016. Is it possible to use a flashdrive/thumbdrive that is compatible with the Dell and the Surface Pro 4 to gather a few folders/files just in case I need them? Can you recommend one that I can purchase quickly on Amazon or Staples?

Well, what it says above except that I am truly just leaving my prior life behind. I use my Dell "computer" once a month for banking/brokering as opposed to the 16 hours a day formerly. The Fire suffices for internet stuff.

The Surface Pro 4 does not have MS Word (it could if I paid ransom to Microsoft). My documents are in Word 7, I think. I believe Google Docs is installed but I don't know how to use that, or how to transfer some of my documents from Word to Google Docs. Something to be sorted later.

I would like to come up to speed on the Surface Pro, use that for "grown up" stuff, the occasional letter or memo if needed to actually deliver to someone (mostly legal/medical). But that's for later.

BTW I have purchased the Brother B&W printer everyone recommends here and handed off the color printer to a friend. I'm hoping to put the new printer in the linen closet for when it is needed.

It's amazing what you can shed when you get old-er. Not a bad thing!

TLDR: So can you recommend me a flashdrive or thumbdrive or the like for a quick (tonight/tomorrow) purchase that will fit into a slot on both the Dell Inspiron One Desktop Computer and the MS Surface Pro 4 allowing me to transfer some files/folders that I might need? If you have a better suggestion, I'll listen. Computer helper coming Monday AM to dismantle everything. Never mind about backup drives, been there, don't need that.

Yes this is rash. That's okay.

Many thanks!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yes you can do this with a thumbdrive, and just about any one will do. I'd just get a cheap one. Alternately, if your Surface has a MicroSD card reader built in (I think some models do?) you might want to get a MicroSD card plus a USB card reader, since then you can leave the card in the Surface and toss the reader in a bag, if you need to move files around in the future. Just a thought.

But yeah I kinda agree with devrim; I would use a cloud service if this was my problem. I'd probably just sync the entire My Documents folder (or wherever you keep your stuff) to Dropbox or another similar service, then sync it down to the new computer.

If you want to do it manually/directly though, any Sandisk, Samsung, Kingston, or other recognizable brand name purchased from a reputable retailer (not eBay, not Amazon "Marketplace", not Alibaba/AliExpress... regular Amazon or a B&M store) ought to be fine. They generally come preformatted as exFAT, which should work on most computers; if the older computer is running WinXP then it might not, but you can reformat as FAT32 if needed. I'd try it out-of-the-box first.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:23 PM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The hard drive of a computer from 2006 or 2010 is going to be tiny so whatever files you have can't be very big in total size. Just try plugging in your phone and tablet via USB cable and see what you can move onto them... they ought to show up on the computer the same way a thumbdrive would and you should be able to drag and drop files.

Addendum: you should probably try to check the total file size and compare it to the space available on your devices beforehand as, if you're running out of space on the phone or tablet, things might not fit and you'd want to go another route.

devrim's suggestion to set up an account with a cloud storage service is a good one too, if you're willing to get into that and become comfortable with how to access files stored that way.
posted by XMLicious at 10:24 PM on May 17, 2019

Best answer: You should be able to go to and just start uploading files; word files will be readable in Google docs automatically.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:37 PM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow you folks are quick and oh so helpful!

Dropbox it is. No particular reason for the hardware of a thumbdrive except that I had used one years ago; and, they are a staple in TV crime shows for swiftly grabbing files.

Also thrilled to hear that Google docs will be able to read my Word docs. I would have just paid for MS Word but the sales calls were fast, furious and so obnoxious.

Thank you all!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 11:24 PM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just so you know if there are ever files where Google Docs doesn't cut it, you can also install the free Libre Office for all your office needs.
posted by trig at 1:01 AM on May 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

There’s a free online version of Word.
posted by sageleaf at 6:40 AM on May 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: trig Libre is above my pay grade in terms of knowledge, but hopefully that link will be useful to others more savvy than me. Thanks!

sageleaf I tried that link for free MS Word but I am apparently still in its system and immediately was asked to re-up. Maybe if I sign in with a different email address, but that gets complicated. Once you leave a footprint...
But that may benefit someone else. Thanks!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 8:59 AM on May 18, 2019

If you had an Office 365 Home or Personal subscription, I suspect it will ask if you want to renew it, but I would be surprised if you can't cancel out of that upsell to use the free version.
posted by Aleyn at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2019

You've got a solution, but I want to add that I strongly recommend against flashdrives for permanent storage. Cloud storage, external hard drive, and moving to another computer are all better solutions. Thumbdrive-type USB drives are easy to lose and easy to break (particularly breaking the connector off the board), and for those reasons I just don't like them for being your one copy of important stuff. They're good if they are secured, watertight (by which I mean a zipper plastic bag) in a known location (document safe, e.g.), but they are just small enough and weak enough that they get moved around too easily, get stepped on, etc.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:58 PM on May 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Following on the above answer, any data storage solution will fail at some point, so if this is data you want to keep, make sure there are at least two copies of it on different media. Cloud providers may be more resilient to data loss, but even they can't protect against every eventuality.
posted by Aleyn at 11:02 PM on May 19, 2019

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