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Hardware Thread, USB Drives Survey in Technical; Christmas is coming, The sysadmins are getting fat, The kids are all getting USB drives in their stockings, Let's grab ...
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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    USB Drives Survey

    Christmas is coming,
    The sysadmins are getting fat,
    The kids are all getting USB drives in their stockings,
    Let's grab our tin foil hats!


    As you can see there is a new survey up. Lets settle this once and for all shall we? I admit what is good for one is not neccercerily good for another, but the issue and amount of negativity towards USB drives is astounding. I love them and with the correct GPO's in place they are perfectly safe, admittedly there are issues with pupils copying huge volumes of information, ok, MP3s, MPEGS etc to their user areas, but it is nothing which cannot be stamped down on with good monitoring of the user areas and amended AUPs. This christmas I can forsee that lots, and I mean LOTS of kids will receive MP3 players, many of them in USB form for Christmas and I think its about time we sorted out the facts from the myths.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    I have issues with some of my terminals not liking USB drives in the first place!

    However, I can think of several places I would prefer to stick the things than in my network :twisted:

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    I let staff only use them at the moment. I have them locked down with drive letters. The other reason for this as well is barely any of our machines have USB ports at the front and we all know what happens when kids start rooting around the back. Idealy they would be properly locked down with software restriction policies but this doesnt stop the pictures and MP3s etc getting onto the network. Its also a little hard to monitor MP3s since they produce them in IT lessons on audacity and such so until there is a real need for them were going to stick with current policy.

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    This is where strict, and I mean strict monitoring of the user areas is called fro. All you need is a couple of examples made (I'm sure they will queue up to volunteer) then you will eventally get some more resonsable use of the network. What may be a good thing to make the kids realise is that if they have those files on thier USB drives than there is no need for them to be on the network in the first place, especially when the risk of discovery and punishment is so great.

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    Netman's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    Anything that banishes floppy disks to the mists of time has got to be good... I love them, we even sell them on at cost to the kids so we have some influence over them getting good ones! It's all down to personal responsibility really... there will always be those that need 'educating' and those that use ICT resources responsibly.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    USB flash memory drives are definitely the way to go! I've distributed them to all staff for about 8 months or so now and it's been a great success! We only bought 128MB drives, but seeing as most documents teachers want store are only Word or Excel files it isn't a problem!

    The drives we bought came with their own small extension lead which is handy. If you're running 2000 or even better XP on your clients, it should work with all available flash drives without the need to install a driver.

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    beeswax's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    how long before a member of staff comes to you saying that their pen drive is full and can they have another one?

    beeswax

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    We let the students and staff use them here no problems, just basically to get rid of the older technology such as floppy disks as we all know how annoying it is when people lose work through corruption. We have bought a batch of 100 with the school logo on them and selling them to pupils at a small loss to encourage the use even more.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    @beeswax - To be honest we haven't hit that wall yet, but if someone told me that tomorrow, I'd ask do they really need to carry so many documents with them in one go? More than likely the answer would be no. If they started putting MP3's or high resolution images on the drives I could imagine the drives filling up quickly.

    Eventually I suppose we'd replace all 128MB flash drives as we are replacing floppy disks now. I suppose with falling prices 512MB, 1GB or possibly even greater capacities could be bought in the future.

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    steve's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    I hate these things with a passion, they've caused us no end of problems.

    My main issues with them are data security - staff taking information off site that can easily be lost forever, or worse a kid finding it and having access to confidential info - data protection out of the window.

    Reliability, seen too many of them fail, prompting much hair pulling because they never back anything up.

    We now have a no support policy on these - some staff continue to use them, despite them all having a laptop that syncs files so they can work on them off-site. If they ask for recomendations on them, I tell not to buy them - if they do buy them its at there own risk, and when they break, just don't come running to us.

    Students are prevented from using these (and floppies) via a GPO, they have other methods of accessing files off-site, but if they do bring one in, they are allowed to bring it to us to load the information.

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    My main issues with them are data security - staff taking information off site that can easily be lost forever, or worse a kid finding it and having access to confidential info - data protection out of the window.
    Don't let them. NTFS and other security measures should prevent this.

    Reliability, seen too many of them fail, prompting much hair pulling because they never back anything up.
    They are 100 times more reliable than floppies!

    Students are prevented from using these (and floppies) via a GPO, they have other methods of accessing files off-site, but if they do bring one in, they are allowed to bring it to us to load the information.
    !!No floppies either. Good grief. Are you a secondary? I think it is recommended by Becta that pupils should be allowed and enabled with the ability to take work home. It sounds like you are creating far to much work for yourself like this. I really think we should be pushing the positive use of technology, not banning it for conveiniences sake. Its not a dig at you so please don't take it personally but there is a lot of tin foil hat wearing taking place with regards to USB drives, and I'd like to set the record straight. besides, there is no storage medium which is 100% reliable, be it floppy, USB drives, CDRW or external hard drives, but to ban them and remove their functionallity for the sake off a few fixable issues seems excessive to me.

  12. #12

    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    @Dos_Box: We give them email which should be sufficient for sending all but the largest of files.

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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    I agree with everything Dos_box has said. We actively encourage USB drives by selling them in school (anything to get rid of floppies for good) and have no issues at all. Sure the kids bring fill up their space with mp3's but with quotas in place they only have so much room.

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    steve's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    Yes we are a secondary. Don't get me started on Becta

    We do allow access to files away from school, more secure, reliable methods too. Do Becta insist it must be with USB keys?

    If you can explain how you can secure USB keys for staff and students, I'm happy to reconsider my opinion of them.

    But just how do you stop a kid loosing a USB key and their entire gcse coursework that they never backed up - despite constantly telling them to so?

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Re: USB Drives Survey

    The problems with USB are the same as with floppys. Just at a larger scale. For a start I would suggest that you try to convince staff and pupils that USB drives are not a storage medium, but rather a transport medium. It does not alleviate them of the responsablity of ensuring that their work is stored on their user areas (where it can be backed up), but that they should use them only for transporting work from school to home and vice versa. That should cover you in the loesing courswork stakes.
    As regards to securing USB drives there are plenty of posts on the forums on how to lock down USB drives, such as launching programs from them or installingg software from them, and for the life of me I can't find a single one at the moment! ops:

    If anyone here has a seperate USB GPO which allows the secure use of USB drives and had the AD management printout of the changes required could they post it here please.

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