Nowadays, 16 gigabyte (GB) USB flash drives are available for under $10 (USD). If you spend a little more, you can get a drive with up to 256 GB capacity. The low cost and increasingly large capacities of USB flash drives, along with their portability, make them popular storage devices. However, many people don’t realize just how versatile these tiny devices can be.
Here are five novel uses for USB flash drives:
1. Take Your Business Applications Anywhere
Many business applications — such as word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and financial management software — are available in portable formats. These applications are self-contained, so you can run them from a USB flash drive. Running applications from a flash drive is convenient if you frequently switch between computers and do not have cloud-based business applications.
2. Run a Portable Version of Windows 10 or Windows 8
If you want to take Windows 10 or Windows 8 with you wherever you go and run it on another computer, you can use Microsoft’s Windows to Go tool to generate a portable version on a USB flash drive certified for that purpose. However, the Windows to Go tool is only found in the Enterprise editions of Windows 10 and Windows 8. If you do not have this edition, though, there are third-party applications that let you create a portable version of any version or edition of Windows.
3. Secure Your Desktop Computer
You can use a USB flash drive to secure your desktop computer when you leave it for a few minutes or a few days. Several companies offer applications that turn your flash drive into an access control key that lets you lock and unlock your computer. When you remove the flash drive, various systems are disabled, making the computer unusable. When you insert the flash drive into the computer, the systems are immediately restored and you can use the computer again.
4. Boost Your Computer’s Performance
In Windows operating systems, you can boost system performance with a USB flash drive and the ReadyBoost feature. When you insert the device into your computer and enable this feature, Windows will use the USB drive’s flash memory to support the hard drive’s memory cache. ReadyBoost usually provides a noticeable performance improvement when you are running Windows on standard hardware, according to experts. However, if Windows is running on high-end hardware, you probably won’t notice a difference. The ReadyBoost feature is available in Windows Vista and later versions.
5. Create a Windows Password Reset Disk
Some people like to log in to their Windows computers with a local user account rather than a Microsoft account. That way, they do not have to connect to the Internet every time they want to use their computers. However, if you have a local user account and you forget your password, you cannot use Microsoft’s “Why can’t you sign in?” web page to reset it. What you can do, though, is create a password reset disk on a USB flash drive using Windows’s Forgotten Password Wizard. Once created, you will have an easy way to reset your password if you forget it.