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10 Cool Uses for a USB Flash Drive

10 Cool Uses for a USB Flash Drive

Your Flash Drive can be used for so much more than just a portable hard drive. Whether you have stacks of flash drives floating around your desk (from conferences and events), or you are looking for ways to improve your daily flash drive use, these 10 cool ideas should get your creatives juices flowing. These simple ideas will give your old flash drives new life, and create valuable purpose for your newest thumb drive.

  1. Store, View, and Share Photos

    You may have thousands of photos on your computer, and you may organize them effectively with the latest photo gallery software; but, nothing can replace that feeling of being able to hold your photo collection in your hand. The flash drive is the modern version of a scrapbook. You can store you photos and browse through them, using your computers software or portable apps that are ;OS independent (works on mac, windows, linux, etc.). You can also create slideshows, videos, and even mini websites to showcase your photo collection.

    This can be a good way to safely store a backup of your valuable digital photo collections, legal documents, or scanned papers you don't want floating around your house or office. You can keep your back-up close at hand, where you can update it regularly or store it safely in your safety deposit box, for even more security.

    One of the best things about creating a portable photo gallery, is that you can easily share this collection with others. As fast as a handshake you can transfer your photo collection or portfolio to your friend our a business associate.
  2. Print Photos

    Now that you have made your first portable photo gallery, you may consider getting them printed. Most modern photo shops will now allow you to print your own digital photos, from a user kiosk.

    Photos are transferred from your flash drive, using a USB port in the front of the kiosk. You can select your print sizes, and many will allow you to add simple effects like photo tone (color correction, black & white, sepia) and borders (vignette, frames, white, print to edge). Many setups will also allow you to specify a delivery address, which is perfect for the busy professional or a gift to that special someone.

  3. Use Your Favorite Internet Browser

    Most workplaces will require you to use the browser selected by their IT department. As this is good policy, it does not always make for good browsing. For many of us, searching for solutions to our daily challenges is an ongoing effort, which is most efficiently acheived using the tools we are most familiar with. We also become quite dependant on the plugins and extension we us to speed-up such tasks as social media sharing, scripting, and marketing automation.

    Here is a list of popular portable internet browser software:

    Google Chrome - fast, simple, themeable browser

    Mozilla Firefox - the award-winning web browser that's safe and secure

    Mozilla Firefox Developer Edition - browser with built in development tools

    Opera - lightweight, customizable browser

    I am a big fan of the Chrome browser, as it will sync my bookmarks between my mobile devices, laptop, and desktop computer.

  4. Sync Files Between Your Flash Drive and the Cloud

    Some people will say the cloud is better than a thumb drive, because you can't lose it. We originally fell in love with flash drives because they are "here", not "there". When copy files, the job is done. We don't have to try to remember which cloud the files are on or what our password is, we simply copy.

    But, flash drives do get lost and so does the data. Did I mention you shouldn't keep your originals on your flash drive? Well now you can. DropboxPortableAHK allows you to store your originals on your flash drive and sync them to your cloud fie storage online. All you need is to connect to a computer with an internet connection and the app will copy your files to the cloud server and bring new files to your memory stick. Pretty cool, eh?

  5. Boot to an OS of your choice

    If you like the ability to use your own browser on a foreign computer, you will likely be excited about the capability to load your own entire operating system (OS), from a flash drive. If you like this idea, you know why you would want to do this and have already thought of a dozen or more applications.

    These OS are the most popular portable versions available:
    Windows 8.1 (using Win2USB)

    OS X 10.6.2 (called iPortable Snow)

    Linux (many stable options)

    There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand why they want to boot an OS, from a flash drive, and those who don't ;)

  6. Backup files from your computer

    Your files are valuable. Whether it's your collection of poems, your musical recordings, or computer drawings, these items are irreplaceable one-of-a-kind works of art. Your hours of effort should be protected with daily back-ups. The flash drive uses high-speed NAND memory and offers a convenient solution for backing-up your computer files. Not only is the NAND memopry faster than a hard drive, the USB 3.0 connection is 5 times faster than it's USB 2.0 counterpart; and, capable of reading a writing simultaneously.

    Keep you backup safe, and you will have a super-speed storage solution to protect your valuable files.

  7. Play MP3 Music in Your Car or Truck

    Many modern vehicles provide USB ports for their entertainment systems. The 2015 Lincoln MKC has a media hub with two USB ports, an SD card reader and an audio input jack, so a passenger can listen to music from the car's infotainment system without disturbing the driver.

    To take advantage of this multimedia feature, all you have to do is load your flash drive with mp3 audio files, then plug it into the entertainment units USB port. Be sure you use the entertainment port, as the vehicle may also include USB charging ports, which will only charge your mobile devices.

    Your MP3 files can be sorted into folders or stored, in bulk, in the root of the thumb drive. Some car stereos will also support playlists, and play your audio files in the order you specify.

    As a bonus, some entertainment systems will allow you to load MP4 and AVI video files, for watching movies on the built-in video screens.

  8. Secretly Store Encrypted Files

    Your files may sensitive, so you will need to protect them. Bosses, ex's, children, and investegator may be prying into yout life and discovering your dark secrets and photos. Don't levae your data unprotected.

    Your native Operating System (OS) will have tools to encrypt your flash drive. Windows 8 and higher users may use BitLocker, while mac users have FileVault. Linux users can enjoy various encryption tools and optiosn, for thumb drives

    For everything els there is TrueCrypt. This handy tool will work on older OS and will protect your files inside a government grade AES encrypted file partition.
  9. Save Your Computer from Viruses

    AVG Rescue CD offers a free compressed version that can be installed to a bootable flash drive (USB). Once this is done, you can simply boot from the drive of choice directly to the AVG menu, where you can scan for viruses, edit files, test your drive, or even edit the registry. You can also access a number of common Linux tools to make changes to your system.

    When your system goes down, you will need help to get it back up.

  10. Become a Superstar DJ

    Big room or small, music can bring people together, so always have you best tracks on a keychain flash drive. You never know when a great moment may need a throw-down.

    The new mixers are multi-media input devices; and, one of those inputs is the USB port. Plug your thumbdrive in, and you will gain instant access to your digial files. With track cueing, playlists, bpm, and genre selectors, you will be able to play your favorite set or create something new, on the fly. If the mixer doesn't have USB support, the CDJ is likely to have an input, as well; and, there is likely a computer on site loaded with serato or traktor to accept your files.

    "Let Music Connect Us . Something Wonderful Will Happen" ~ Armin van Buuren

    DJ mixers with usb input:

    "I don't want my music to be credible. I want it to be incredible." 
     ~ David Guetta

    You will want the largest waterproof (drink spills) flash drive you can get your hands on, USB 3.0 (for speed), and FAT32 formating (for large file cross OS compatibilty).

    Put it all together, with a lot of show and a little talent, and you will keep the floor filled for hours; or, with a 128GB flash drive, days.

Go out and try these ideas, and see which ones work for you. If you enjoyed these ideas, feel free to share them. As well, I am sure you have some great ideas of your own; and, we'd love to hear them.

This article was published on Wednesday 20 July, 2016.


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