Sunday, October 2, 2011

10 interesting tricks to do with your USB sticks

USB Tricks
Various tricks possible with a USB
Carrying loads of data has never been so easy since the invention of USB drives. Portability, small size, and huge memory have made thumb drives the most evident device. Floppy and tape disks are obsolete now. But apart from its obvious functions, these sticks can be used for a multitude of other interesting tasks worth knowing.
1. Boot an operating system
A USB can allow you to carry an operating system on the drive and execute it on any PC. This function is known as Live USB. Various versions of Linux operating system are available that can be accommodated in a drive. The best available are Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux, and Webconverger. Windows can also run from the stick; the ReadyBoost feature in Vista and Windows 7 are available for this.
2. Encrypt your drive
Technology innovations now provide an option to encrypt the flash drive when carrying sensitive data. A free program called TrueCrypt is the most recommended. Hardware level encryption can also be done, but will require extra cost. Another tool called Rohos Mini is also available for the same purpose. This will help create a secret partition on the drive and then encrypt the data for its protection. The PC accessing such a drive will require admin rights, thus restricting the usability.
3. Secure your PC
Your system can be safeguarded against unauthorized access by using a USB drive. A freeware, Predator, installed on the system makes the USB work like a card to lock a PC. Once the drive is connected, everything works normally but the system gets locked as soon as it is removed. Thus, here the USB works as a password key.
4. Run portable applications
Portable applications can be downloaded from Portable Apps website and installed onto the drive. These will automatically launch on connecting the drive. The portable applications are Mozilla Firefox, Open Office suite, and anti-virus software.
5. Browse the web without leaving a trace
Using the above stated Portable applications, you can easily surf web. No need to care about left traces of passwords, cookies, and history on the computer. Another way is to use a portable web server, like Server2Go, which supports Apache, PHP, MySQL, and Perl from the USB drive. It also supports all browsers and is compatible with all versions of Windows. Surely this will be extremely useful for a developer.
6. Connect to a wireless network
Carrying a USB drive doesn’t let you worry about losing wireless network settings. Wireless Network Setup Wizard in Windows XP and Windows Connect Now (WCN) in Vista are the utilities for saving wireless configuration on the drive and then connect to other wireless or WCN compatible devices like a computer or a printer.
7. Create a password reset disk
The password reset disk is very useful in cases when you forget the password of your user account on a Windows system not on the domain. A USB drive can be used as a password reset disk instead of the formerly used floppy disk. Windows Vista provides option of using drive in such a way.
8. Portable Jukebox & Portable MP3 player
Along with carrying your mp3 files you can also take the player with you to your office. Programs like CoolPlayer+ and portable edition of winamp can be installed on the drive and lets you play music on any system.
USB drive can also be used to build your own library of songs. Windows Media Player automatically detects the audio files and adds it to its library. Thus, your drive can also be used as an MP3 player.
9. Completely erase a computer
Erasing a computer is also possible just by your stick. Darik’s Boot and Nuke application can be carried on the drive and used for this purpose. EBAN is another higher level application used for erasing RAID arrays and multiple drives at the same time.
10. Use it as a fixed drive
Till now your drive is considered by the PC as removable. This limits its functionality as a memory device in comparison to the inbuilt ones in the computer. However, using your USB as a hard drive is possible using the utility BootIt.


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