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Helping library computer users with files

Most public computers are locked down in a way that erases any changes with a logoff or reboot. What do you do when a patron needs to save a file for use later?  Floppy

One option is to save a file directly to a device, or save it first to the computer (if allowed) and copy it to a device. This option is only helpful if the computer supports these devices and the patron has such a device (or can purchase or borrow one). Some examples of storage devices include: 

Another option is to save it first to the computer (if allowed) and then move it to online storage. This enables patrons to access the file again from anywhere they have internet access. Patrons might:

  • email a file to themselves as an attachment (if they have a web-based email account like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc)
  • save a file to an online storage account

Online storage services allow users to sign up for an account and upload their files to an online storage space. To access the files again, they sign in and download the files to whatever computer they are working on (some services even allow editing of files without downloading them). Many online storage services offer free storage (limits vary, but many are around 1-2GB).

A few of the online storage services with simpler interfaces include:

...but there are many, many others!

How do your patrons save their files? Does your library sell floppies or USB flash drives? Does your library loan out USB flash drives? Do you suggest email attachments or online storage as an alternative? Please feel free to share info in the comments!


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We sell floppies for 25 cents but discourage people from using them long-term as a permanent storage medium, as they are so prone to failure and many of our computers don't have floppy drives. We also sell 2GB flash drives for $10, and we have had a few people purchase them.

We suggest emailing files to oneself as an alternative, and we will walk people through saving a file to our computers, then attaching it to an email.

A few of our computers can burn to CD/DVD, so we have CDs for 25 cents too.

We also have an emergency flash drive at the reference desk for transferring files from one computer to another. We allow people to use it in-house.

Thanks for sharing! (and it was interesting for me to find out about the CDs and their "going rate" -- I'm curious how many libraries offer this option...)

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