Are you using USB Flash Drive? | AccountingWEB

Are you using USB Flash Drive?

USB flash drive is inexpensive.  We can get a 8GB driver for less than $20.  So a lot of people use USB flash drive to transfer files back and forth between their desktop and laptop; some even carry two USB flash drivers for backup.  But that gets awkward and keeping track of versions can be annoying. 

I use Windows Live Mesh which can sync virtually unlimited files directly between my PCs and up to 5GB of files between my PC and SkyDrive. So no more flash drive transfers – whether I’m using my desktop or laptop, I have the current version of my files.

challisc's picture


challisc | | Permalink

One of the reat problems with USB sticks is the lack of encryption. Lose it or lend it and anyone has access to the data.

I have come across one or two that come with encryption software. But is there an encryption option with SjyDrive?

chanpangchi's picture

Good point!

chanpangchi | | Permalink

Without encryption, if someone has physical access to our USB flash drive or notebook, they would have full access to our files; so we must encrypt our data storage.

However, SkyDrive is different.  It is an online storage, a cloud service that no one can access it unless they have your password or they can hack into Microsoft data center.  So simple answer to your question is no; Skydrive doesn't have encryption.  You can encrypt your file before storing it to SkyDrive.  But do you need encryption for online storage that no one can have physical access to it.

Of course, the argument may be government offical or Microsoft employee may have access to it.  But the same argument that your server adminsitrator can have access to all your files in office as well.

-- Regards,

Andrew Chan

[email protected]

scalloway's picture

Encryption Software

scalloway | | Permalink

You can use Encryption Software to either encrypt the entire USB drive or a directory on it. I use TrueCrypt which is free. If you encrypt the entire drive it just appears to be blank and unformated.

challisc's picture

Encryption options

challisc | | Permalink

Yes that's all true Andrew, but I'd be happier if documents that are under confidentiaility commitments are encrypted, such as clients' business plans and financial models.  I'll certainly give TrueCrypt a whirl.

Some offsite backup services offer encryption as an option. But can TrueCrypt be set up to encrypt before transfer offsite as part of an automatic daily backup?

Points to consider

Doug112 | | Permalink

You seem to have found something that works well for you. What I would ask any business considering something like this would be:

Are the documents audited?

How easily will you be able to find a document once there are a lot of documents on the drive?

How well can you handle version control?

Can you keep track of all documents, such as e-mails for instance?


There are obviously other considerations for companies looking to improve the way they handle documents but often the above are overlooked.


The thing about Live Mesh ...

AlanBourke | | Permalink

... is that it now won't run on anything older than Vista. I use it as a very simple two-machine source control system for which it works very well. In terms of encryption it is of course all password-protected and linked to a Windows Live account, and since it uses normal folders on your hard drive that you nominate for synchronisation then those folders are as secure as any other on a Windows machine.

The Windows Live stuff uses SSL to transfer but doesn't (AFAIK) use server-side encryption.


If you are using a USB drive then you definitely need to be using Truecrypt, which in current versions can encrypt an entire volume (even your Windows boot volume).

So I would say that if you're using a cloud-based service then password protect your documents using Word/Excel functionality and the like. And if you use USB drives then add Truecrypt to the equation.


challisc's picture

Protecting client files

challisc | | Permalink

Alan, "password-protected and linked to a Windows Live account" sends shivers down my spine for files that no longer need physical access to my PC to view. The well known systems that are only password protected, like Windows Live, are getting regularly hacked. Why don't they offer an extra level of access security, like a memorable question/answer?

Password protecting files is a good idea for a few of them, but impractical for many - and prone to be overlooked.

For anyone serious about confidentiality of either their own files or clients' files, isn't automatic file encryption and/or extra access security a must?


Well, regarding Windows Live stuff ...

AlanBourke | | Permalink

I did say that there was no server-side encryption which I agree is nuts.

If you want to be ultra-safe I would take a chunk of hard drive and make it into a Truecrypt volume which you have to mount with a password. You can set it up with a level of encryption that is illegal in the US if you want. You can then treat the mounted volume as a drive with its own drive letter and use it as such.

If you're using USB drives then do the same.


If you want to use cloud-based services then invest in one that supports SSL transfers and AES server-side encryption.




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