5 Cool Things Your USB Flash Drive Can Do
Who doesn’t remember their first “thumb” drive? The first USB flash drives held only 125 megabytes of data, but that seemed like a lot compared to the floppy disks most users had grown up with, and they were a lot easier to use than read/write CDs. That 125MB “memory stick” wasn’t cheap either; early models would sell for $75 or more.
Now, of course, USB flash drives are throw-away cheap and they have a little more memory – 8 and 16 gigabyte drives are common.
Companies give away low memory drives full of marketing materials as they gave away brochures in the past. But, USB flash drives are useful for more than just data storage. Here’s a few other ways these powerful little devices can save your day:
Carry Your Favorite Applications Anywhere
Not only can you take the word processing document, presentation, and images you need to edit with you to another computer, you can take the word processor, presentation builder, or other application as well. If the remote computer has an operating system, you’re in business. Several office productivity suites, including the free OpenOffice suite, are available as portable applications that can be executed from a USB drive. Popular browsers, including Firefox, are also portable. Short of subscribing to a cloud-based Desktop-as-a-Service solution, this is the most cost effective way to carry your desktop with you.
Better yet – bring your own operating system. Both Windows and Linux operate from a USB drive just as they would from the machine’s hard drive. Imagine carrying the hard drive from your computer on a flash drive in your pocket.
You can boot a computer directly from the USB drive. This can be invaluable when trying to restore a damaged computer that refuses to boot. Using the boot-able USB drive, you just launch Windows Explorer to see the contents of the locked hard drive.
Boost System Performance
Windows users can see a significant increase in system performance by using the USB drive’s flash memory to support the hard drive’s memory cache. Beginning with the Vista OS, this option appears when you insert any flash drive. Because flash memory lacks the slow moving parts of a hard drive, the performance increase can be surprising.
Programs are available that will safeguard files on a USB flash drive in case of loss or theft. The utility is used to create a secret partition on the flash drive to which access can be password protected and in which documents can be encrypted.
Secure Your PC
Several companies have released applications that load on a USB flash drive to turn that drive into a virtual PC padlock. Without the flash drive inserted in the machine, it will not operate. Remove the flash drive and the machine stops operating.
Hard to believe that the lowly little thumb drive can do all of that, and more. Funny that now, when these drives have become powerful enough to provide real value, they’re very inexpensive, and when they were just fancy floppy drives, they cost an arm and a leg.