The magnetic flux line lattice in type II superconductors serves as a useful system in which to study condensed matter flow, as its dynamic properties are tunable. Recent studies have shown a number of puzzling phenomena associated with vortex motion, including: low-frequency noise and slow voltage oscillations; a history-dependent dynamic response, and memory of the direction, amplitude duration and frequency of the previously applied current; high vortex mobility for alternating current, but no apparent vortex motion for direct currents; negative resistance and strong suppression of an a.c. response by small d.c. bias. A generic edge contamination mechanism that comprehensively accounts for these observations is based on a competition between the injection of a disordered vortex phase at the sample edges, and the dynamic annealing of this metastable disorder by the transport current. For an alternating current, only narrow regions near the edges are in the disordered phase, while for d.c. bias, most of the sample is in the disordered phase-preventing vortex motion because of more efficient pinning. The resulting spatial dependence of the disordered vortex system serves as an active memory of the previous history. Random injection of the strongly pinned metastable disordered vortex phase through the sample edges and its subsequent random annealing into the weakly pinned ordered phase in the bulk results in large critical current fluctuations causing strong vortex velocity fluctuations. The resulting excess low frequency flux-flow voltage noise displays pronounced reentrant behavior. In the Corbino geometry the injection of the metastable phase is prevented and, accordingly, the excess noise is absent.