10 Things You Can Do With a USB Drive Other Than Store Data

A USB Drive is 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 great things about using them internally and externally to advertise their products. USB drives are perfect devices for these applications. For instance, OpenOffice, that is a complete office suite that contains 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. If you take these tools, namely the ability to check your email, browse the net and be able to use a full office suite, in conjunction with the mobility of a USB drive, you’ve given yourself the ability to redefine your office environment!

If you need more, it is possible to choose a variety of other applications for use on a USB drive from Portableapps.com. You can even download an entire package of applications offering some cool tools as an audio player, games, antivirus utilities and a customizable menu system that’s focused on 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 disk drive and you can’t enter windows to repair anything or (worst case scenario) save any files to a safe location, you’ll need what’s called a boot disk. Since it is a pretty rare thing for a computer to get 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 have to find a different option (more than likely costing you hundreds to thousands of dollars).

3. Install an operating system
Some people newer geeks understand that netbooks don’t possess DVD-Rom drives, so there is 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 together with your operating system is install the OS from a USB drive. This is going to be 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 what to come for the USB drive.

4. Connect to a wireless network
As more of us are moving to wireless networks for our devices a USB drive is crucial. Take, for example, my home. We have two laptops, a desktop, a netbook, a radio printer, two smart phones, an Xbox 360, a wireless home entertainment system, and a PlayStation 3 3. Many of these devices hook up to our wireless network. I used a USB drive with this network settings to setup each one of these devices to connect to the network. This saved me from recording the network address, the security key and the network settings and then inputting these settings into each device. Pretty slick. To learn more about using the Wireless Network Setup Wizard, start to see the Help And Support Center, that is accessible from Windows XP’s Start menu. For more information about using the Windows Connect Now feature, see Windows SUPPORT AND HELP, that is accessible from Windows Vista’s Start menu.

5. Develop a password reset disk
I’ve noticed that a lot more password protection systems are getting really tricky for you to create passwords that are an easy task to remember. Just about everyone has 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 in the beginning and at the end. Some really get out of control with 1 capitalized character, 2 numbers, no reapeating characters and on and on. It’s getting really tricky to remember passwords. Well a USB drive can become a password reset disk for a significant one, your Windows User Account. Just plug in the drive to reset your password and your back into your system.

6. Boost PC performance
If you’re running Windows 7 or Vista, you should use a USB drive to increase one’s body with the ReadyBoost feature. This utility will use the space on a USB drive as a memory cache to compliment the memory cache on your hard disk drive. This works especially well because a flash drive is more responsive than a hard drive that has physical moving parts.

Using ReadyBoost is actually pretty easy. Just plug in your USB drive (preferably from Bizdriveusb.com) into one’s body and click ReadyBoost at the prompt and then follow the instructions.

7. Use it as an MUSIC PLAYER at work, home, and in the automobile
As we grow increasingly more MP3 friendly, there are plenty of places which are becoming more MP3 friendly. If you are at the job, plug your USB drive into your system and Windows Media Player will play your MP3s direct from the drive. Many home theater receivers now come with a front panel USB port for playing MP3 files. And most new aftermarket car stereos and quite a few OEM car stereos have a MP3 compatible USB port that may play MP3s. On top of that, there is no iTunes involved. To see information regarding aftermarket car stereos and home theater systems that are USB ready, visit Crutchfield.com.

8. Password-protection
In case you are carrying a USB drive which has some sensitive data that, if you lose the drive, you would like to keep from prying eyes it is possible to password protect the drive. photostick called Rohos Mini Drive can safeguard that data. This tool lets you develop a partition on the drive and password protect that partition. Just copy files into that partition and they are secure.

9. Run an internet site from it
If you are a web developer, you will be interested to know you could run a web server that supports Apache, PHP, MySQL, and Perl from the USB drive with Server2Go. Server2Go runs right from the box with no installation and can operate on all versions of Windows, supports the most frequent browsers, and is completely free. Having a portable website is really a pretty cool idea, particularly if you are giving a sales presentation and need to provide a live website demo.

10. Lock your PC
You understand the scene in the movie, once the secret agent inserts his passcard right into a security system or PC to login and logout? Well it’s pretty easy 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. While the drive is connected to your personal computer, everything works since 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 and everything comes back up.

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