USB drives have enormous storage space for their size. They go from 32 meg to gigs of space. You can run many programs off usb drives. Check email from any computer, store your passwords, run diagnostic programs, along with other data, to mention a few of the uses. Here are some USB drive tips and cautions.
(Updated: Feb. 2007) I have a few of these usb drives in a variety of sizes and constantly use them in my day to day activities.
I have used them for moving files from my home desktop and laptop, to my work desktops and laptop. I have used them for syncronizing files between all of the above. I have used them for installing programs on several computers. They are great for moving large powerpoint presentations from one machine to another, or leaving it on the USB device for use on several computers.
The list goes on and on. Think up your own uses. Put MP3s on it and you could play them on any computer. Share notes or files with your friends and so on. Such uses and transfers are very fast. Many brands come with encryption software already on it so you can password protect your data should you have the need. That way if it gets lost, no one can access your files.
Encryption on USB Drives
Many brands include this software right on the USB drive when you buy it. One important note: Set this up before you put anything on the usb drive. You will find to use this encryption software requires the usb drive be formatted. If you put data on the drive first and then decide to use the built in encryption you will lose all your data during the reformatting.
Safety tip for USB Drives Use Extension Cable
Read this section regarding using a small extension cable rather than plugging directly into the computer.
Using USB drive on Novell and Groupwise systems
Here is the fix it your usb drive doesn't show up when you plug it in on Novell or Groupwise..
USB drive Lifespan
Caution - According to informaion around the internet, these devices have a lifespan of about 100,000 writes. That sounds like a lot, but if they are used for email or something similar, that is a lot of accessing. You may want to consider this during your uses. Most certainly it is enough reason to always have everything backed up on another device. I have not run into this problem yet, but other sources indicate like hard drive failure, it's not if but when..
A couple of recommendations:
1) Use Computer Management to set the drive letter to W on all the computers you use it on. Then every time you plug it in, it is always drive W on every computer. This can be especially important on work computers that are networked and have many drive letters in use. This way there will never be any problems such as messed up drive letters.
If you have more than one USB drive, you will have to give each it's own drive letter on each computer.
Remember: Drive 'B' is pretty much an unused letter these days. Handy for this purpose as well.
2) Always use the system tray icon "Safely Remove Hardware" each time before unplugging the USB drive. That way it is shut off first and you will never lose any valuable data.