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Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks
LifeHacker ^ | 10 July 2010 | Kevin Purdy

Posted on 07/12/2010 5:37:35 AM PDT by ShadowAce

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

What can you do with a few gigabytes and a USB port? Quite a lot, with the right software. Learn how to encrypt your work, run whole systems, rescue Windows, and customize your thumb drive with these USB-geared tricks.

Photo by Debs (ò‿ó)♪.

Note: Gina previously rounded up 10 thumb drive tricks in April 2007, and we've borrowed a few of those ideas here. But many of the apps have updated, some have been replaced with better offerings, and a few totally new cool things (Chrome OS! XBMC!) have made their way into this mix.

10. Give Your Drive a Custom Icon

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

An "oldie" but goodie. If you use multiple USB drives, or just want to make your USB drive more recognizable at a glance, you can give it a custom icon. The root of the trick is keeping a .ico file on the drive—you can create one from any image with any number of tools, including the ConvertIcon webapp. Now when you plug in your USB drive, you'll know which one you're looking at on your desktop and explorer windows.

9. Try Out Chrome OS Now

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

Google's fast and light netbook operating system, Chrome OS, isn't due out until late fall, but thumb drive owners can jump into an open-source build of the code so far. As explained by Gina, you can run a custom build of Chrome OS from Hexxeh from your thumb drive and try out Chrome as it stands today. Isn't open source development cool? (Original post)

8. Browse and Work Securely with DemocraKey

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

If you're on vacation, or working somewhere else where the security, tracking, and privacy conditions are unknown, you'll be glad you have the DemocraKey bundle. It's a set of Windows-based apps—including a browser, image editor, email client, and encryption suite—that makes browsing and working much more anonymous and secure. (Original post)

7. Run an XBMC Media Center From It

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

XBMC Live, a version of the awesome XBMC media center software built for thumb drives, is great for showing off XBMC to your friends and relatives on their own gear, but also loading onto your netbook or laptop when it primarily pull other duty with a standard operating system. It's also how Adam starts off the process of building a silent, cheap media center, providing a peek at how well things will run when XBMC is going full-force.

6. Save Your Windows System

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

If you've chosen to put an Ubuntu system on your thumb drive, you've already got everything you need to fix a Windows system that just isn't working. From an Ubuntu thumb drive, you can scan and fix viruses, recover files, analyze and clean up disk space, fix partitions, and recover lost Windows passwords. All that is covered in our complete guide to saving your Windows system with a thumb drive.

5. Prevent Leaving Your Drive Behind

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

USB drives are small, light, and look like any other peripheral—so, yeah, a good share get lost and left behind. If you're trading your drive between Windows systems, Flash Drive Reminder can pop up a window when you're starting to log off or shut down, reminding you that you've got a drive plugged in and, hey, won't you yank it out while you're thinking of it? (Original post)

4. Install a Portable Windows App Suite

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

If you're short on space for Windows, or you just like to keep certain apps with you or contained on a separate disk, your USB drive can function as a full-fledged launcher. PortableApps offers no-install-needed versions of Firefox, Chrome, Pidgin, GIMP, Notepad++, and many other favorite bits of open source software. There are other suites out there—some accused of playing fast and loose with licenses and software property—but PortableApps remains the most consistent and up-to-date collection of free, go-anywhere Windows software. (Original post)

3. Encrypt and Set Your Drive to Self-Destruct in Emergencies

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

Not physically self-destruct, as cool as that would be. But with USB Safeguard, you can make it so that either your entire drive requires an encryption drive, or just select files do. In more unique fashion, USB Safeguard can be set to wipe your files entirely if someone tries to access them without your password too many times. Losing a cheap thumb drive is much better than losing the keys to your checking account. (Original post)

2. Sync the Files You Need

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

Rather than manually copy the files you need back and forth between USB and hard drive, why not automatically sync what you need? It's the least you can do to help your thumb drive keep up with Dropbox. Tools like SyncBack Freeware or Microsoft's own SyncToy give you the option to automatically copy, or delete, the files that stick out on either side.

1. Keep a Portable Linux OS Handy

Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks

Linux systems have long been handy on a USB drive—they're fast, free, and very customizable. We rounded up the major thumb drive systems, and found that Puppy Linux and the various Ubuntu flavors (including the lightweight Xubuntu) found the most favor among readers (and editors, too, for that matter). As for making the drives, we recommend the uSbuntu or Unetbootin tools on Windows for making read-only systems, and Universal USB Installer for making a persistent system of any Linux OS on any drive. (Original posts: Universal USB, Unetbootin, uSbuntu)


TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: flash; tech; usb
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I've also managed to save a script I've found on the net that will allow you to put several live distros on a single disc/USB drive and boot up to a menu so you can select which one to boot up.

Pretty cool

1 posted on 07/12/2010 5:37:36 AM PDT by ShadowAce
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

2 posted on 07/12/2010 5:38:12 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: sauropod

home


3 posted on 07/12/2010 5:43:21 AM PDT by sauropod (The truth shall make you free but first it will make you miserable.)
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To: ShadowAce
Have to file later....

One thing is there are "drives" that interface between IDE/SATA ports and a SD Chip that goes into cameras. I have picked up a simple 4 GB chip and used it with OpenBSD operating system. Boots up very fast !
4 posted on 07/12/2010 5:43:57 AM PDT by CORedneck
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To: ShadowAce

Since I discovered Dropbox, I find I don’t need a thumbdrive much anymore...


5 posted on 07/12/2010 5:45:10 AM PDT by shorty_harris
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To: ShadowAce
A great post to go into my Favs.

Thanks!

6 posted on 07/12/2010 5:45:23 AM PDT by texas booster (Join FreeRepublic's Folding@Home team (Team # 36120) Cure Alzheimer's!)
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To: ShadowAce

PortableApps rocks. I’m drifting all my PC stuff onto a USB memory. Between that, DropBox (folder that auto-mirrors contents to anywhere it’s installed including iPad), and my iPad, that leaves my notebook at home as just a media/iTunes host.


7 posted on 07/12/2010 5:46:05 AM PDT by ctdonath2 (+)
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To: LonePalm
Ping for later.

Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)

LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)

8 posted on 07/12/2010 5:50:02 AM PDT by LonePalm (Commander and Chef)
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Bump


9 posted on 07/12/2010 5:50:47 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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bttt


10 posted on 07/12/2010 5:53:31 AM PDT by xone
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To: Pontiac

Later


11 posted on 07/12/2010 5:53:56 AM PDT by Pontiac
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To: Non-Sequitur

Bump


12 posted on 07/12/2010 5:57:38 AM PDT by juggernaut
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To: ShadowAce

Very cool. Marking for later


13 posted on 07/12/2010 6:01:22 AM PDT by dfwright (The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left (Eccl. 10:2, NIV))
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To: ShadowAce

BTTT


14 posted on 07/12/2010 6:03:25 AM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: shorty_harris
You and I are polar opposits.

I keep my machines other than the one I freep from isolated from the internet as much as possible.

I absolutely never rely on the internet for long term storage.

15 posted on 07/12/2010 6:03:55 AM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: ShadowAce

Very cool....Thanks.


16 posted on 07/12/2010 6:04:15 AM PDT by Vigilantcitizen
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To: ShadowAce

ping for later


17 posted on 07/12/2010 6:06:22 AM PDT by grb
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To: ShadowAce

save for later


18 posted on 07/12/2010 6:14:01 AM PDT by conservativehusker (Ben Nelson makes me ashamed to be a Nebraskan. (Kinda like Bill Calahan once did))
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To: MrEdd
I absolutely never rely on the internet for long term storage.

The beauty of Dropbox is that you don't have to. Yes, there's a copy stored on their servers, but it's best utility is to synchronize files between multiple computers. I have three computers running Dropbox, and (unless they're disconnected from the network), I can add/modify files on one of the machines and see the changes on the other ones.

The network storage is, to me, simply a side effect.

One thing I haven't tried yet, but is a feature, is sharing a folder within my Dropbox folder with other (specified) users for a collaborative project.

19 posted on 07/12/2010 6:14:55 AM PDT by kevkrom (De-fund Obamacare in 2011, repeal in 2013!)
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To: ShadowAce

For Later.


20 posted on 07/12/2010 6:15:22 AM PDT by Codeflier (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama - 4 democrat presidents in a row and counting...)
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To: listenhillary

archive read later


21 posted on 07/12/2010 6:19:33 AM PDT by listenhillary (November is just the first step! If we falter after that step, the win will mean nothing.)
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To: 21stCenturion

...


22 posted on 07/12/2010 6:20:14 AM PDT by 21stCenturion ("It's the Judges, Stupid !")
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To: ShadowAce
For the Ubuntu System to rescue a problem Windows installation, could someone indicate what the advantages/disadvantages of a USB bootable Ubuntu would be compared to the CD (or maybe DVD for more room?) bootable system would be.

ML/NJ

23 posted on 07/12/2010 6:20:32 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ShadowAce

Saving for later when I can really screw things up...


24 posted on 07/12/2010 6:28:08 AM PDT by IYAS9YAS (Liberal Logic: Mandatory health insurance is constitutional - enforcing immigration law is not.)
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To: jrestrepo

Save for later


25 posted on 07/12/2010 6:34:58 AM PDT by jrestrepo (See you all in Galt's gulch)
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To: ShadowAce
You can make your entire desktop portable with a U3 USB drive.
26 posted on 07/12/2010 6:43:18 AM PDT by Bon mots
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To: ShadowAce

ping for later.


27 posted on 07/12/2010 6:43:56 AM PDT by Carpe Cerevisi
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To: ShadowAce

bump


28 posted on 07/12/2010 6:44:59 AM PDT by Chickensoup (The Acting President....is an incompetent puppet of Soros.)
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To: ShadowAce

bump


29 posted on 07/12/2010 6:45:05 AM PDT by Chickensoup (The Acting President....is an incompetent puppet of Soros.)
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To: ShadowAce
Note to people that "try" to mail thumb drives in an envelope,,, don't, the paper will tear and you will loose the thumb drive. The post office has hundreds of these that came loose in the machines that handle the mail.

PS,, same goes for keys, jewelery, pens, etc.

30 posted on 07/12/2010 6:45:57 AM PDT by MrPiper
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To: ShadowAce

ping for later


31 posted on 07/12/2010 6:46:17 AM PDT by Last Dakotan
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For later


32 posted on 07/12/2010 6:47:25 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: ShadowAce

All thumbs bump


33 posted on 07/12/2010 6:49:34 AM PDT by MurrietaMadman (Luke 23:31)
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To: ShadowAce

34 posted on 07/12/2010 6:51:39 AM PDT by BushCountry (I spoken many wise words in jest, but no comparison to the number of stupid words spoken in earnest)
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.


35 posted on 07/12/2010 6:53:49 AM PDT by loungitude ( The truth hurts.)
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To: ShadowAce

bump


36 posted on 07/12/2010 6:55:58 AM PDT by tophat9000 (.............................. BP + BO = BS ...........................Formula for a disaster...)
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To: ShadowAce
Neat!
37 posted on 07/12/2010 6:56:24 AM PDT by kitchen (One battle rifle for each person, and a spare for each pair.)
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To: VastRWCon

bump for later


38 posted on 07/12/2010 6:59:18 AM PDT by VastRWCon
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To: ShadowAce

Nice, I think I know what I will be building for my brother’s birthday (he wants to scrap his cable and just watch netflix)—that XBMC Live tip sounds like a good option.


39 posted on 07/12/2010 7:00:32 AM PDT by Betis70
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To: ShadowAce

bump


40 posted on 07/12/2010 7:04:34 AM PDT by Harold Hill (I always think there's a band, kid)
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To: ml/nj
For the Ubuntu System to rescue a problem Windows installation, could someone indicate what the advantages/disadvantages of a USB bootable Ubuntu would be compared to the CD (or maybe DVD for more room?) bootable system would be.

The USB is most likely going to be a bit faster; seek times on CDs and DVDs are not nearly as fast as a flash drive.

Also, you can easily save data on the same flash drive --- in fact, you can use something like liveusb-creator so that your image information is kept persistent between reboots:


41 posted on 07/12/2010 7:09:51 AM PDT by snowsislander
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To: ShadowAce

USB swag bump


42 posted on 07/12/2010 7:29:28 AM PDT by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways Guero >>> with a floating, shifting, ever changing persona.....)
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To: ShadowAce

43 posted on 07/12/2010 8:27:01 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Visualize)
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To: ShadowAce

Cool stuff.


44 posted on 07/12/2010 8:31:48 AM PDT by VeniVidiVici (Unemployment has DOUBLED since the Democrats took control of congress)
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To: ShadowAce

nice post


45 posted on 07/12/2010 8:33:59 AM PDT by za_claws (Our President is the new Milli Vanilli)
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To: ShadowAce

Mark


46 posted on 07/12/2010 8:52:42 AM PDT by TFMcGuire (Life is tough. It is even tougher if you are stupid--John Wayne)
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To: za_claws

Bookmark for study.


47 posted on 07/12/2010 8:53:30 AM PDT by Ole Okie
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cool


48 posted on 07/12/2010 9:02:07 AM PDT by RckyRaCoCo
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To: BushCountry

Is that a real thing?


49 posted on 07/12/2010 9:07:07 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: Still Thinking
Yep, if it was greater than 8gb I might get one. I still might for a windows repair kit, media player, RTF word-processor with templates, photo repair and drawing.

Was looking for a cool Watch USB device, then I could take advantage of a lot of the hacking tools and software I have and make a WMD (Watch of Mass Destruction).

http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/usb-gadgets/ad41/

50 posted on 07/12/2010 9:15:49 AM PDT by BushCountry (I spoken many wise words in jest, but no comparison to the number of stupid words spoken in earnest)
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