7 clever ways to use that USB drive again


Thumb drives used to be so cool. They came in every shape and material, from little plastic rectangles to rubber wristbands, novelty animals, and pens sporting a built-in USB-drive. We used to marvel at the data they contained, easily dragged and dropped into a special icon. They were simple and portable, and yes, about the size of a human thumb.

Those days are over. Cloud technology has made USB drives redundant and worse, a liability since they could easily get lost. Most of them have vanished into junk drawers, exiled with old cell phones and various chargers, forgotten.

There are some rituals no longer necessary in high-tech households such as folding a map or memorizing a phone number. Teenagers may shrug, but if you’re 30 years or older, you’ll probably smile with nostalgia at this list of 20 things we don’t do anymore because of technology.

Unlike other outdated tech, such as CDs and Palm Pilots, the thumb drive is still useful, and not just for storing and transporting information. It’s time to give thumb drives a new lease on their electronic lives.

Check out these seven handy, fun and downright helpful ways to use USB thumb drives.

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1. Run your own Google Chrome on other computers

Many of us get nervous about sharing web browsers. There are lots of personal settings, and private search histories, that we would rather not share with each other. Portable Apps, a site that collects apps that can run on USB drives, offers up Google Chrome Portable, a version of Chrome that lives on a flash drive.

Portable records your settings and extensions, so when you find yourself in front of a borrowed computer pop the thumb drive into the USB port. This is especially handy for travelers, who may find themselves an internet cafe or hotel business center. The Portable software is both familiar and efficient, and it won’t impact any version of Chrome that’s already on the machine.

2. Go incognito

The Tails operating system has an intriguing tagline: “Privacy for anyone anywhere.” You can run Tails from a USB drive on a computer, and it will keep your activity private and anonymous by acting as an independent OS.

You will need two USB drives for the initial Tails setup and it can seem a little involved, but the Tails site will walk you through the process.

Tails is one way to protect your privacy when using public computers or a computer you don’t trust. It can also be a way to hide your tracks if you’re shopping for birthday or holiday gifts on a computer you share with your family.

Click here to learn more about Tails operating system and get the direct download links.

3. Use it as the key to your computer

You can turn a USB drive into a key that unlocks your Windows computer. Download and install Predator on your PC and a flash drive. Once it’s set up, the computer will only work when the USB drive is plugged in.

Pull it out and the display goes dark, and the keyboard and mouse are disabled. Plug it…

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