Userful Desktop™ 8 Removable Storage Guide

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Copyright © 2015 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2015.09.28)

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The Userful System Tray provides a simple, intuitive way to manage USB-connected peripheral storage devices, including flash drives. Optical drives, such as the host system CD/DVD drive, are also managed through the System Tray.


The Userful System Tray icon is located in the task bar of the desktop. Clicking on this icon will show a list of all storage devices and/or optical drives available to the user, including partitions of hard disk drive.

Shared Versus Private Access

Userful Desktop 8 offers options for both shared and private storage peripherals.

What is Shared Storage?

Shared storage is storage that can be accessed by any user logged in, and can be accessed by more than one user at a time. Shared devices will appear in the System Tray of all logged-on users, except certain kiosk sessions.

Examples of shared storage in a Userful Desktop System:

  • the host PC hard disk drive
  • a flash drive plugged directly into the host PC
  • the CD/DVD drive in the host PC
  • any optical (CD/DVD) drive plugged into any station

What is Private Storage?

Private storage can be accessed only by one user. Typically this would be a device plugged into a USB multiseat device (which forms a station) or into a USB hub that is associated with a particular station. Private storage devices will appear only in the System Tray of the user who plugged in the device. Examples of private storage in a Userful Desktop system:

  • a flash drive plugged into a USB multiseat device or USB hub belonging to a particular station
  • a USB-connected portable hard drive connected to a USB multiseat device or USB hub belonging to a particular station
Please Note: Optical (CD/DVD) drives are always shared.

Accessing Storage Devices

Please Note: U3 Smart Drives are not supported by Userful Desktop.

When a USB storage device is plugged in, the Userful System Tray icon will briefly change to a "USB" symbol; once the icon returns to normal, the device will be accessible through the System Tray.


To open a window and view or access the contents of a storage device such as a flash drive, click on the System Tray icon, highlight the device, and select "Open".

A message will appear with a friendly reminder to remember to close the device from the System Tray before unplugging the device, to avoid data loss.

Helpful Hint: USB-connected storage devices MUST be opened (or 'mounted') through the System Tray to show up in the file navigation system.

  • This means that users will not be able to save files from within an application (i.e./ through File > Save or File > Save As...) unless the storage device has been opened or mounted through the system tray.

Mass Storage mounted.jpg
Mass Storage unmounted.jpg

Before unplugging a device, click on the System Tray icon, highlight the device, and select "Close". Wait one or two seconds -- or until indicator lights on the device stop flashing -- and remove the device.

Note: Flash drives can have different types of filesystems, just like hard disks. Ext3/ext4-based filesystems, which are commonly used in Linux systems, retain permissions that restrict read/write access to the owner.

This means that a flash drive with an ext3/ext4 filesystem created on one system may not be usable when plugged into another system. To avoid this issue, users can use FAT32 formatted flash media, which works well cross-platform, and doesn't have permission issues like ext3/ext4. (Users should be aware that FAT32 storage volumes allow a maximum file size of 4 GB.)

Accessing DVDs

Open dvd.png

To use the Userful System Tray to play video from DVD, it is necessary to install the open-source media player "VLC" and some additional media codecs. To play DVDs (and other videos):

  • After installing media player (VLC), be sure to install External Packages after the firstboot.
    • If "External Packages" are not installed at firstboot, they can be installed by going to System > Administration > Install External Packages.

To access a DVD, simply insert the DVD into the optical drive. The Userful System Tray icon will briefly change to a "DVD movie" symbol; when it returns to normal the DVD will be available in the System Tray drop-down list. Simply click on the System Tray icon, highlight the device, and select "Open".

It is not necessary to "Close" an optical drive from the System Tray prior to removing it from the system, although it is good practice to wait for the disk to spin down before ejecting it.

Please Note: Commercial DVD playback will not work.