Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

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
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-76 next last
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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

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.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

43 posted on 07/12/2010 8:27:01 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Visualize)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

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)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: za_claws

Bookmark for study.


47 posted on 07/12/2010 8:53:30 AM PDT by Ole Okie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

cool


48 posted on 07/12/2010 9:02:07 AM PDT by RckyRaCoCo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

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)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies]

To: BushCountry

I don’t think I’d like the knife one. I’d stick it in my pocket of course like any other knife or memory stick, and that one looks like it would accumulate crap in and around the USB connector (even worse than a generic stick with no connector cover).


51 posted on 07/12/2010 9:25:48 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 50 | View Replies]

To: BushCountry
Apparently they have at least a 16GB one now, if that's more to your liking:

http://www.techfresh.net/swissflash-16gb-flash-drive-and-laser-pointer/

52 posted on 07/12/2010 9:38:07 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 50 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

It is a key chain thing, since it is swiss army who typical do an alright job concerning quality (like their watches), I am sure the recess for the usb is tight as any other high quality connector.

I don’t usually carry a knife, pen or key light so if I have to carry a usb, might as well carry something that does more than one job. This was what made me even think twice about it other than the cool factor.


53 posted on 07/12/2010 9:40:30 AM PDT by BushCountry (I spoken many wise words in jest, but no comparison to the number of stupid words spoken in earnest)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 51 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
bookmark for later . . . thanks!


54 posted on 07/12/2010 9:48:07 AM PDT by Hoodat (.For the weapons of our warfare are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BushCountry
Oh OK, so it's one of those real small SWA knives? I prefer to carry a full size pocketknife which pretty much forces you to carry it in-pocket, and I was picturing all the sludge that builds up in the bottom of the blade tracks getting into the USB plug.

For a USB stick (which goes in the pocket too, I try to keep the key-chain as light and unencumbered as possible) I used to use the Lexar "sport" models with a stretchy rubber cap, but have recently been using PNY ones with a plastic cap that seals pretty well.

55 posted on 07/12/2010 9:58:26 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 53 | View Replies]

To: BushCountry

Forgot to mention it, but I do love those SW watches though. Won’t wear anything else, even for dress. I beat the crap out of watches and these just seem to lap it up and keep on going.


56 posted on 07/12/2010 9:59:46 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 53 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

bump


57 posted on 07/12/2010 10:05:51 AM PDT by lack-of-trust
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 4mer Liberal

geek ping


58 posted on 07/12/2010 10:57:49 AM PDT by T Minus Four (tagline pending)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Betis70

I got addicted to watching Weeds on Netflix. I watch it over the kid’s WII instead of the computer.


59 posted on 07/12/2010 11:20:02 AM PDT by Sawdring
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
Bookmark!
60 posted on 07/12/2010 11:48:58 AM PDT by The Cajun (Mind numbed robot , ditto-head, Hannitized, Levinite)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-76 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson