USB Drives are one of the most vital components for anybody who uses computers. This is a list of tricks that are worth trying for getting the best out of your USB drive.
1. Carry Your Workspace
As we all know an USB drive can be carried with ease and portable applications has made it quite easier to carry any type application that you need for your work. You may refer to some productive portable applications that can make you more productive or you can search for portable applications of your choice on various websites. Some of the most popular ones are listed below :
2. Hidden USB Drive :
There is a nice step by step tutorial by Windell Oskay describing how to hide your USB drive within a torn USB cable. You can easily shock a couple of your friends while playing a song from a torn USB cable plugged in to your computer. Find the the step by step tutorial on Evil Mad Scientist.
3. Create an Autorun program:
It is really a vital feature while using any USB drive. We use it mostly casually but it can be used for better purposes like launching any program (located on your USB drive) automatically by just inserting the USB drive into your computer. You can follow a detailed guide on Daily Cup of Tech by Tim for creating an autorun file.
4. Stop Auto-Runs From USB Drives:
A similar list of antidotes on how you could stop auto-running programs from your USB drives can be found here. This is very useful as many threats are reported to start from auto-run menu. My suggestion to anyone would be, start programs (even the “Open to View Files”) from the Auto-run dialog.
5. Recover your lost USB Drive :
Portability is what makes the USB drives so indispensable and it is what makes it so forgettable and vulnerable too. There are many occasions when I forget to bring my keys and so is with my USB stick. And back in college, my USB stick got stolen. Only thing that I did then was sulk over my carelessness. Well now, I am quite safe from this misfortunes. Here is a step by step guide from Tim that will increase the chances of recovering your USB drive in case you lose it or got robbed.
You can also try Codysafe a free program that also serve the similar purpose. It also comes with a program launcher like Portable Apps and a built-in antivirus (Drive Doctor) for the files saved on your USB drive. Read a detailed review on the tool.
6. Use your USB drive to Lock or Unlock Your PC:
When I first came to know about this trick I simply couldn’t resist myself from using it. The very idea of locking my workspace with my USB drive makes me feel more safe. I have detailed this BIOS hack to lock your Windows XP with USB drive here. Also there is a free program named Predator that also lets you lock your Windows workspace. You can read my detailed how-to on this tool here.
7. Create a Bootable USB Disk
One, if your netbook don’t have a DVD drive or you have yours damaged and you are willing to reinstall an operating system try creating a boot device with your USB drive. Try using free tools like Image Writer or WinToFlash to burn an Windows OS installation image file onto a USB drive.
8. Run an Operating System From USB
You already know that a new OS installation can be carried be carried out from a USB disk. Well you can run a OS from USB too very much like the Live CD. Try Puppy Linux, XPUD, Damn Small Linux or Webconverger which may not be that feature-rich as an OS but are good enough to backup dead PCs or troubleshoot the same. Well if you are eager enough to format a USB that can run Windows XP from within it, head over here.
9. Run a Website or Standalone Application from USB Disk
Server2Go is a free webserver that can run from write protected media. To ease it up, lemme say, web apps based on Server2Go can be run from a usb stick without the worries of configuring Apache, PHP or MySQL. The app lets you create PHP applications or websites on USB sticks. Some examples listed on the developer website are catalog software, calculation programme, image campaigns (CMS-based), computer based training lessons etc. Many content management systems like Joomla are also supported by this tool.
10. Stay Safe: Get Files on Your USB Device Encrypted
Work was never confined to office. And with USB sticks we can carry documents anywhere to work on them when we get more time. So if you are carrying files that may contain sensitive information, you might want to encrypt them since if it falls on wrong hands you can guess the consequences. Try SecurStick. Its a free program that hides your files behind password protected encryption. You can also try the free version of USB Safe Guard for preventing data theft from USB drives.
11. Backup USB Drive
12. Speed Up Windows Using your USB Drive
Windows Vista and Windows 7 has an built-in feature coined as Windows ReadyBoost that you can use to speed up your OS using USB flash drives. Here is a detailed guide on Windows ReadyBoost that you can follow to apply on your PC.
11. Create a password reset Disk For Windows
If you are on Windows Vista or Windows 7, use your USB drives for creating a password reset disk. Read a detailed article on how you can create a USB password reset disk on Windows 7 and Vista.
12. Remove Alerts For USB Devices on Windows XP:
Follow this step by step tutorial on how you can disable alerts like, “This device can perform faster” in Windows XP.
13. Hide files or folders in your USB Drive
Try Winmend if you are willing to use your USB drive to hide files or folders. Read a detailed guide here. Or you can use a simple trick to hide files within a USB Drive.
14. Completely erase your Computer Hard disk
Have you considered erasing all the data on your hard disk before selling it? Manual erasing is quite tiring. Nuke your hard disk with DBAN after burning the tool onto a CD drive or USB drive.
15. Crazy Looking USB Drives
This is not something that will help you tweak your USB drive, but this will definitely ease up this geeky post a bit. Get to see some crazy looking USB drives that are probably really awesome and awful at the same time. Have you ever imagined of a USB Business card? Witness it here.
If you know of any trick that will take our USB drives achieve some extra feats, please mention in comments.