Your list of contacts may seem like your lifeline to the world, so it's important to keep the information up-to-date and readily available. Though many online services are available to keep your contact list backed up, it may be prudent to also store the content on an external storage device -- like a flash drive -- so you also have a method of transferring or accessing your contacts even when an Internet connection is not readily available.

Transferring from a Webmail Account or ICloud

Step 1

Sync your smartphone's contacts to ensure there is a fresh version of the data available in iCloud or in your Web mail account. See Tips for device-specific backup information.

Step 2

Plug your flash drive in an available USB port on your computer.

Step 3

Log in to your Web mail account and launch the export feature. In Google, for example, click "Gmail" and select "Contacts," then click "More" and select "Export." In Outlook.com, click the down arrow next to "Outlook" and switch to "People," then click "Manage" and select "Export."

Step 4

Follow the on-screen prompts to export your contact information to your chosen file format. When asked for a save-to location, navigate to the drive that represents the flash storage before you complete the export.

Step 5

Unplug the flash drive so it can be shared and the contact data imported into other computer applications or Web mail accounts.

Transferring from Outlook Desktop

Step 1

Launch the program you use to manage your contacts on your computer. For example, launch Outlook on a PC or Address Book on a Mac.

Step 2

Plug your flash drive in an available USB port on your computer.

Step 3

Select "File | Options | Advanced | Export."

Step 4

Click "Export to a File" and select "Next."

Step 5

Select the file format you wish to use for the exported file and click "Next."

Step 6

Choose the contact list you wish to export and then click "Browse," choose the flash drive folder and enter a name in the "File Name" field. Click "OK" and then "Next."

Step 7

Click "Finish" to begin the export and allow a few moments for the process to complete.

Step 8

Unplug the flash drive so it can be shared and the contact data imported into other computer applications or Web mail accounts.

Transferring from Apple Address Book

Step 1

Plug your flash drive into an available USB port and launch Apple Address Book.

Step 2

Launch your Finder and select your flash drive storage in the navigational pane on the left.

Step 3

Highlight those contacts you wish to export -- you can select all of them by pressing "Command-A" on your keyboard.

Step 4

Drag the highlighted contacts out of the Address Book window and into your flash drive storage as it appears in the Finder window. A VCARD file will be created for each of the individual contacts.