These days, USB flash drives are as common as cell phones. As prices fall and sizes of the flash drive get smaller and smaller, more and more people use them to store files and copy/transfer files from one computer to another.
A USB flash drive, also known as pen drive, thumb drive, flash stick, gig stick, disk key, jump drive, disk on key (after the original M-Systems DiskOnKey from 2000) , memory stick (not to be confused with the Sony Memory Stick), flash drive, USB stick, USB key, or USB memory, is a data storage device that includes a flash memory with an integrated USB interface. It is usually removable, rewritable and much smaller than an optical disc. Most weigh less than 1 oz (28 grams). Since its first appearance in the market at the end of 2000, as with almost all other computer memory devices, storage capacities have increased while prices have dropped. As of March 2016, flash drives with 8 to 256 GB were sold frequently, while 512 GB and 1 TB units were less frequent. In 2018, 2TB flash drives were the largest available in terms of storage capacity. Some allow up to 100,000 write/erase cycles, depending on the exact type of memory chip used, and are believed to last between 10 and 100 years under normal circumstances (shelf storage time).
As mentioned above, nowadays the flash drives have huge storage powers! But its uses are not limited to copying and transferring files. USB flash drives have many other uses that you may not know about.
Here is a list of 10 great things you can do with USB flash drives:
1. Use it to Secure Your Computer with Predator
You can turn a pen drive into a key much like the key you use to lock your car or your house. Install a free program like Predator on your pen drive and enable it to act like a password. Now your computer will be able to work only when the pen drive is plugged in. When you pull out your display will go dark and the keyboard and mouse will be disabled.
You can use Predator on multiple computers so the same pen drive can unlock many machines. You can get a free download of Predator from https://predator.en.softonic.com.
2. Use it to Go Incognito
You could put your forgotten pen drive into a more interesting use: going incognito. This can be achieved by using Tails — the amnesic incognito lives system. You can download Tails from https://tails.boum.org to your USB drive and run it from there.
Tails will act as an independent OS and keep whatever you do private and anonymous and, as its name suggests, and forget it promptly too. This way you can protect your privacy when you use a public computer or a computer that you don’t trust. It makes use of the Tor network and leaves no trace on the computer you are using.
Another feature that brings Tails OS to the table is the built-in encryption, which means that it will be almost impossible for anyone else to access your files, emails and instant messages, even if you forget and leave your portable USB drive in the cafe, bar or train.
3. Increase Performance of your System
Many times most of you must have faced the situation when your computer has become extremely slow as you have run out of RAM. You must be trying to manage the situation by running fewer programs at the same time or buy more memory and install it. All this can be cumbersome and expensive.
Microsoft has given an easy solution for it with Windows ReadyBoost. This software allows Windows to use a compatible USB drive as a cache instead of using the hard drive. Use a USB drive with a capacity at least double the RAM size to let ReadyBoost perform well.
If your computer has 4GB of RAM, you should choose a drive of 8GB or more of disk space.
However, you will need a flash drive that supports Windows ReadyBoost, so look for “Enhanced for ReadyBoost” or something like that on the packaging.
However, you will not see much performance increase if you have a unit over 7200 RPM. If you have a solid state drive, Windows will not allow you to use ReadyBoost because the cache will be slower than your SSD
4. Create a Recovery Drive
Don’t wait for the computer to pack up. With a spare USB drive that has 16GB of free space, make a recovery drive for your computer. Search for “Create a Recovery Drive” from your computer desktop and run it. Follow the instructions on the screen.
On the same line, you could use an old flash drive as a boot disk for your Windows Operating System. Get the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool from Microsoft’s Download Centre to create a copy of the ISO file. An ISO file is a typical single file that represents the entire contents of a CD or DVD.
5. Remove Virus Infection from a PC/Laptop
If your computer is badly infected with a virus, there is little you can do to clean it from within. This is where you can use an anti-virus USB rescue disk. Most anti-virus rescue discs are delivered as ISO files, although some companies give you a tool for creating rescue discs.
When you buy security software, be sure to create a rescue USB disk. You may get one or more scanners on demand in the unit, and have a portable virus removal tool that you can take anywhere. Some anti-virus programs like Avira PC Cleaner, ClamWin Portable, Anvi Rescue Disk, and Emsisoft Emergency Kit are free to use and will run happily from a USB drive connected to the infected machine.
6. Carry your Apps with You
Do you want to carry your favorite programs along with you on a pen drive? We have a solution for that too.
The site, https://portableapps.com, allows this. The site offers anything from Office Suites to accessibility and security tools, and from games to browsers and multimedia players. You can start with portable versions of your browser, Chrome, Firefox or Opera, or try ClamWin Portable for anti-virus software on the go.
What are some interesting things you have done with a flash drive? Leave a comment and let us know!