USB Flash Drives

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The Floppy Drive Replacement

When Yamaha introduced the PSR-3000, they replaced the floppy drive with a 16MB Smart Media Card. They also included a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port for an external USB flash drive. The 16MB Smart Media Card rapidly became obsolete, being replaced by cards with different formats and higher capacities, but the addition of the USB port proved to be an excellent choice. All modern day computers now include one or more USB ports and there are a wide variety of USB devices available to the public.

You will see USB flash drives referred to as pen drives, jump drives, thumb drives, key drives, or memory sticks. Whatever you call it, a flash drive is a very welcome addition to your computing environment. Just stick it into the USB port on your computer (or your PSR or Tyros) and, within a few seconds, a new drive appears on your desktop. On the PSR/Tyros, the flash drive will appear as USB1. That's it. You don't have to take your computer apart to put in a new drive. You don't even have to install software to read the drive.

These drives have a many desirable features: no need for batteries, solid state storage, good transfer speeds, durability, portability, and an expected data retention of ten years. With all of these features, these tiny drives can replace much of the functionality of the floppy disk and even the CD R/RW discs.

Which USB Flash Drive?

There are many flash drives available on the market. The ADATA drive shown in the side panel is just one example. Flash drives are available in a variety of capacities (the ADATA drive is available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions). Note that these capacities are GB (gigabyte)! A CD-ROM disc is normally about 700MB so a 4GB flash drive can hold everything on a 5 CD-ROM discs and then some. The floppy disk drive was a great addition when it was provided in the PSR-2000 model. That meant you could have about 25-30 extra styles immediately available from the disk in the floppy disk drive. And, since you could have as many floppy disks as you wanted, you could have potentially hundreds of styles available. Contrast that, now, with a 4GB flash drive, which can hold 80,000 to 100,000 additional styles, all of which are immediately available. With capacities like that, you need not worry about the absence of a hard drive in your Yamaha keyboard.

These drives are available from a variety of manufacturers and most will work just fine. However, some drives, particularly those made by SanDisk, include U3/technology, which makes it possible to include some of your Windows applications on the drive and then work in a familiar environment no matter what PC you put the drive in. This technology is of no value if you are using the drive for your keyboard and, more often than not, will cause problems requiring you to remove the U3 software and reformat the drive. It is better to avoid these drives entirely. That said, you will still find a wide variety of drives and prices available with plenty of bargains showing up in sale announcements.

USB Floppy Drive

Some PSR owners, who do not fancy themselves as computer gurus, have nonetheless learned enough about their PCs so that they can access the Internet, exchange e-mail, download and unzip files, and copy them to a floppy disk. Once on the disk, they can take the files over for use in their PSR. The PSR may be fun, but all this other computer stuff is just a nuisance. If you are one of those who may have finally gotten used to floppy disks and don't want to change, the absence of a floppy disk on newer models can be disconcerting, particularly if you have a large library of files available on floppy disks. Well, you do not have to jump with both feet into any new technology. You can simply purchase a USB floppy drive. You can plug one of these into that USB TO DEVICE port on the back of your PSR-3000, S900/S910, or Tyros2/3 and there is your floppy drive, available whenever you want it. These drives are meant primarily for PC users since many new PCs no longer include a floppy disk drive. But if you need to move data on a floppy disk into your keyboard, the USB floppy can also be used for this purpose. For regular use and data storage, however, the flash drives hold so much more data that you are best advised to use them for your data storage and transfer needs.

Multiple USB Drives

All drives will go bad some time, so most users have learned that it is important to back up the data stored on their drives. This is true of the flash drives as well. Since you can plug your flash drive into your PC, you could create a folder on the PC and use that as a backup to your flash drive data. You could also buy a second flash drive and use it to backup the first drive. If you are out playing a gig and something happens to the first flash drive, you would have your backup available to pop into your keyboard and continue playing. (Of course, the contents of both of these would also be saved on your home computer, which has its own backups somewhere.)

You might also want to have different flash drives to store different kinds of data. One might have your complete library of files on it while the other is used to store just the "good" stuff you have reviewed and you use all the time. If so, you may want to have two (or more) USB devices connected to your keyboard. But how do you do that if you only have one USB port? Simple. You just buy a USB hub. A simple 4-port hub is shown in the sidebar. You could plug that into your keyboard and then have room for four additional USB devices, which could include two USB flash drives AND a USB floppy drive, even a USB hard drive.

USB Extension Cable

Even if you only have one flash drive you use, plugging that into and out of the back of your computer can get to be a real drag, particularly if your keyboard is set up so that the back is not easily accessible. In addition, the constant in and out can cause wear and tear on the USB port. The solution here is to get yourself a USB Extension Cable. These are relatively inexpensive and are used to provide additional distance between a USB device and the port it is plugged into. In the case of your keyboard, you can plug one end into the back of your keyboard and drape the other end over the top of your keyboard or velcro it to the side or someplace more convenient. Now, your USB flash drive is plugged in and out of the extension, which remains more or less permanently plugged into the back of your keyboard. This is also useful if you are using the USB hub. It would be plugged into the extension and then all the ports of the hub can be more conveniently reached and used.

If your keyboard is brand new, you may not have all of this equipment yet, but at least you know what to look for. Now, let's get back to looking at your keyboard and all those buttons and controls with which you operate the keyboard.

This page updated on February 10, 2015 .