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12 Thumb-Drive Tricks

The real beauty of technology is when it's being used for things its makers never foresaw. As William Gibson once put it, "The street finds its own uses for things."

This definitely goes for the ways USB thumb drives can be used. The most obvious stuff is self-evident: take work with you, make backups to it, and so on. But there's a whole galaxy of other possibilities, and I've compiled many of the most useful ones here. Some will almost certainly be familiar; others will be new to you. All of them are worth knowing about, and almost all are worth trying at least once.

Note that some of these tips won't work unless your system supports booting from a USB device. Not all computers do. Sometimes this can be addressed through a BIOS upgrade, but not always, so test before attempting anything crucial.

1. Take Your Programs With You

If you're going to take your data for a ride, why not take your programs along with you, too? Most people have heard about the concept of running applications from a USB drive, but get hung up on the details. Thankfully, there are prepackaged ways to do this, so the choice of apps and the deployment are all done for you.

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