A USB Drive is well known for carry data, be it music, photos, documents, videos, etc. But there’s a whole other side to these handy little gadgets. Take a look at these 10 ways that a USB drive can be used for more than just storing data.
1. Run portable applications (exactly like your smart phone)
Portable apps are becoming increasingly more popular everyday and companies are starting to see the benefits of with them internally and externally to advertise their products. USB drives are perfect devices for these applications. For example, OpenOffice, which is a complete office suite which has a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing software and database, can be acquired as a portable app. Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird offer portable web navigation as portable applications. Invest the these tools, namely the ability to check your email, browse the net and be able to use a full office suite, in combination with the mobility of a USB drive, you’ve given yourself the opportunity to redefine your office environment!
If you need more, you can choose a number of other applications for use on a USB drive from Portableapps.com. You may also download a whole package of applications that include some cool tools as an audio player, games, antivirus utilities and a customizable menu system that is dedicated to your USB drive.
2. Boot an operating system
Some of us older geeks remember making thirty copies of a “boot disk” on old 3.5 floppy disks.
If you crash your hard drive and you can’t get into windows to repair anything or (worst case scenario) save any files to a safe location, you will need what is called a boot disk. Since it is a pretty rare thing for a computer to have a floppy disk in it, you’re going to need a USB drive. Both Windows XP and Linux support creating USB drive boot disks; sorry Mac users, you’re gonna need to look for a different option (probably costing you hundreds to thousands).
3. Install an operating system
Some of us newer geeks understand that netbooks don’t have DVD-Rom drives, so there’s no way to install software that’s on an optical disc (optical disc, HA!).
Now if you bought a fresh netbook or any computer system that doesn’t have a DVD-Rom drive, the only way you can reload the computer with your operating system is install the OS from the USB drive. This is likely to be considered a major thorn in optical disc manufacturers side for a long time to come (and could put them out of business) but is really a sign of things to come for the USB drive.
4. Connect to a wireless network
As more folks are moving to wireless networks for our devices a USB drive is crucial. Take, for instance, my home. My wife and I have two laptops, a desktop, a netbook, a wireless printer, two smart phones, an Xbox 360 360, a wireless home theater system, and a Ps3 3. These devices hook up to our wireless network. I used a USB drive with our network settings to setup each of these devices to connect to the network. This saved me from recording the network address, the security key and the network settings and inputting these settings into each device. Pretty slick. To learn more about utilizing the Wireless Network Setup Wizard, start to see the Help And Support Center, which is accessible from Windows XP’s Start menu. For more information about utilizing the Windows Connect Now feature, see Windows Help And Support, that is accessible from Windows Vista’s Start menu.
5. Create a password reset disk
I’ve noticed that more and more password protection systems are receiving really tricky for you yourself to create passwords that are an easy task to remember. Most of us have one word that is our standard password. However, many systems require 7 characters, some require 8. Some need 1 number anywhere, some need 1 number at the beginning and at the end. Some really escape control with 1 capitalized character, 2 numbers, no reapeating characters and on and on. It’s getting really tricky to keep in mind passwords. Well a USB drive may become a password reset disk for a significant one, your Windows User Account. Just plug in the drive to reset your password as well as your back into your system.
6. Boost PC performance
If you are running Windows 7 or Vista, you may use a USB drive to speed up your system with the ReadyBoost feature. This utility use the area on a USB drive as a memory cache to compliment the memory cache on your hard drive. This works especially well just because a flash drive is more responsive than a hard drive which has physical moving parts.
Using ReadyBoost is actually pretty easy. Just plug in your USB drive (preferably from Bizdriveusb.com) into your system and click ReadyBoost at the prompt and follow the instructions.
7. Use it as an MP3 Player at work, home, and in the automobile
As we grow an increasing number of MP3 friendly, there are several places that are becoming more MP3 friendly. If you are at work, plug your USB drive into your system and Windows Media Player will play your MP3s direct from the drive. Many home entertainment receivers now have a front panel USB port for playing MP3 files. & most new aftermarket car stereos and several OEM car stereos have a MP3 compatible USB port that will play MP3s. Best of all, there is no iTunes involved. To see information regarding aftermarket car stereos and home theater systems that are USB ready, visit Crutchfield.com.
In case you are carrying a USB drive which has some sensitive data that, in the event that you lose the drive, you want to keep from prying eyes it is possible to password protect the drive. An application called Rohos Mini Drive can safeguard that data. This tool lets you create a partition on the drive and password protect that partition. Just copy files into that partition and they are secure.
9. Run photostick review from it
If you’re a web developer, you will be interested to know that you can run a web server that supports Apache, PHP, MySQL, and Perl from a USB drive with Server2Go. Server2Go runs right from the box with no installation and will run on all versions of Windows, supports the most frequent browsers, and is totally free. Having a portable website is really a pretty cool idea, especially if you’re giving a sales presentation and have to provide a live website demo.
10. Lock your PC
You understand the scene in the movie, once the secret agent inserts his passcard into a security system or PC to login and logout? Well it’s pretty an easy task to do the same with a USB drive. Predator is really a software system that can turn your USB drive right into a key for your PC. It is possible to lock and unlock your computer simply by inserting your USB drive. As the drive is connected to your computer, everything works as it should. Once your remove the drive, your personal computer is locked completely, even your keyboard, mouse, and screen are disabled. Plug the USB drive back in and everything comes right back up.