Data storage technologies have come a far way since the invention of the magnetic tape in 1928; to hard discs of the 1950s; followed by Floppies, CDs to Microdrives. As the use of Graphics and multimedia increased, music, photos, videos files easily crossed the 100 MB mark creating the need for dependable storage devices with higher capacities.
Often referred to as pen drives and widely used since 1999, a USB Flash Drive is used to store digital data when plugged into the USP interface of a standard computer. CF or Compact Flash is a versatile removable/portable storage system which connects to a computer via built-in plug.
Most flash drives available range from 8 GB to 64 GB capacity. One of the smallest flash drives was just 8 MB in size and the largest one, the Best USB 3.0, is said to be designed for 1 TB or 1024 GB capacity.
The very capable and inexpensive USB flash drives are much more than mere storing devices used for transferring files. These can be effectively used alike by the New-byes and the Techno-geeks.
The unique feature of a USB is that they are platform independent, i.e., they can be used with any operating system. As the name suggests, Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface is used to communicate with the operating system of the computer. The moment a USB is inserted into a USB port, it is recognized by the operating system which then uploads its driver and assigns it a separate drive letter eliminating the need to reboot the machine. No batteries or external power supply is needed by the USB drive as it draws power from the computer itself. These Drives are light weight and small in size, made up of an integrated circuit and a flash memory card with no wear and tear. The tough plastic shell encasing protects the data-recording surface of USB drives from scratches and dust. They do not develop any malfunction even when dropped to the ground. Unlike the Hard Disks, the USB drives are not vulnerable to magnetic fields as they have no magnetic parts.
10 cool little-known tricks have been discussed below which can used to achieve anything from speedy transfer of data to restoring a virus-ridden computer to launching and playing portable apps right from the USB flash drive.
Secret Key to your computer
Your USB drive can work as a “secret key” to lock and unlock the computer. When plugged in, it can unlock and when removed it locks the machine denying access to any other user; eliminating the use of a lengthy ‘secretive’ password.
Troubleshooting and Revival device for your virus-ridden system
When the USB drive is loaded with the free AVG rescue software, it can be used to scan a computer crippled by viruses; repair and bring the system back to life again.
Run portable utilities, favorite apps and games
Running your browser and other programs and portable applications like Firefox, Chrome, Open Office, to name a few, is possible with just your USB flash drive and any computer with a USB port thus making your Drive as mobile as a Smartphone. Using portable apps on USB sticks has an additional benefit – that is – when the USB drive is removed, no personal data is left behind.
Security of your documents and files
Encrypt your data, and document files stored in the USB Drive thus rendering them useless for others in case the drive is lost or stolen.
Run a different operating system without changing your hard drive
Make yourself Linux and Windows 8 friendly.
Try working on the LINUX operating system or maneuver the Windows 8 tutorial without the risk of over-writing your current working OS. Your USB drive can teach you to install and test these upcoming operating systems.
Keep emergency information and Essential Files Always Available
Several gigabytes of data can be stored in USB flash drives. Latest projects files; medical and insurance records, contact lists, and other essential information can be at hand in case of emergency or just for accessing on the go.
Maintain your Windows computer
Find out how to install Parted Magic, a handy piece of software that lets you do things like reset Windows passwords, clone your system, and partition your hard disk, right from your USB flash drive.
The transfer performance of USB flash drives is almost 100 times faster when compared to other technologies.
Low Power Consumption
Since USB drives have no moving parts or motors, they consume a lot less power in comparison to other devices offering increased power efficiency.
Last but not the least the USB Flash Drives are gaining popularity as a handy and attractive gift item, as a marketing tool or for public awareness campaigns.