Technology Explained

7 Uses for a USB Stick You Didn’t Know About

Christian Cawley Updated 10-12-2019

We’ve all used USB sticks to transport files between computers and back up our files, but there are other cool things you can do with a USB stick. You can use one to lock and unlock your computer—just like in the movies.


You can also use a USB flash drive to quickly connect to a wireless network on all your PCs, increase your computer’s performance, or even run a web server—directly from the USB stick itself.

Here are several surprising ways you can use a USB flash drive.

1. Use a USB Flash Drive to Lock/Unlock Your PC

Do you want to lock and unlock your computer with a physical key, like they do in the movies? With the free PREDATOR tool, you can!

PREDATOR turns a USB flash drive into an access control device—a key for your computer. When you leave your PC, unplug the USB stick and your computer will be locked. When you return, plug it back in and your computer will be unlocked.

It’s like using the Lock function in Windows, but you don’t have to type your password when you return.


When you unplug your USB flash drive, your open windows will minimize, and your screen will go dark—plug it back in and your screen will turn back on.

Download: PREDATOR for Windows

2. Run Portable Apps Anywhere

One of the oddest things about software is that it usually needs to be installed. With portable apps, however, that isn’t the case.

Portable apps and games can be easily copied to a USB stick, then run from any suitable device. This is usually a 32-bit or 64-bit PC. Browsers, email tools, messaging apps, and games can all be run from a USB flash drive.


It’s a particularly useful solution if you’re keen to keep a selection of apps close to hand to use on any PC that might be nearby. This might be in a library, or even a cyber café at a holiday resort.

Check our list of the best portable apps to find a host of cool things to put on a USB stick The Best Portable Apps That Require No Installation Portable apps don't need installation. You can run them from even a flash drive. Here are the best portable apps around. Read More .

3. Increase Performance With ReadyBoost

Speed up Windows with ReadyBoost

If you have a slow hard disk drive in your computer, ReadyBoost can help speed things up. When you enable ReadyBoost for a drive, it acts as a hard drive cache, caching frequently used files. If it’s faster to read from the USB stick instead of your HDD, Windows will read the flash drive cache instead.


You won’t see much of a performance boost if you have a 7200+ RPM drive. If you have a solid-state drive How Do Solid-State Drives Work? In this article, you'll learn exactly what SSDs are, how SSDs actually work and operate, why SSDs are so useful, and the one major downside to SSDs. Read More , Windows won’t let you use ReadyBoost because the cache will be slower than your SSD.

To enable ReadyBoost, right-click a USB stick in Windows Explorer, select Properties, and use the options on the ReadyBoost tab. Windows will only let you enable ReadyBoost if your USB stick is fast enough, so you might see these options grayed out for some devices. ReadyBoost also requires a flash drive with at least 256 MB of free space.

4. Make Backups With Win32 Disk Imager

Backup a USB stick with Win32 Disk Imager

If you’re using your USB flash stick for many purposes, it might be useful to backup the contents. An easy way to do this is with Win32 Disk Imager.


Although Win32 Disk Imager is usually used to write bootable disk images to flash drives, it can also create images. Simply install and run the tool, insert the USB stick, and select a destination and name for the Image File. Click Read to clone the disk contents.

When you need to restore the disk image, simply browse to the image and click Write.

Download: Win32 Disk Imager for Windows

5. Store Vital Travel Documents

If you travel often, you’ve probably mislaid documents. Visas, booking confirmations, even passports can easily go missing. Packing papers in the wrong bag can lead to problems if baggage handlers make a mistake.

One solution is to save all travel documents to a compact USB flash drive and carry it with you. This might even include scanning your passport, if only to provide immigration with the information they need to conduct background checks if your passport has gone missing.

6. Install Almost Any Operating System

Download the Windows 10 installation media

Bootable USB disk images of operating systems can be used to install a new OS on your PC.

For example, Windows 10 users can create a bootable USB installer disk using a dedicated tool. In the event of a problem with the operating system, this can be used to recover or even reinstall Windows.

Similarly, all manner of Linux based operating systems can be installed from USB. Many offer a live environment, giving you get a feel for the OS which runs direct from USB before installation.

It’s even possible to create a USB installer disk for macOS How to Install macOS From USB Want to install macOS from a USB drive? We'll walk you through this alternative method for installing macOS. Read More .

7. Stay Secure Online With Tails Live Operating System

Alternatively, you might be looking for an OS that you can run from USB to keep your online activity private.

The solution to this is Tails, which unlike standard operating systems, preserves your privacy and anonymity. No logs are kept on the operating system. Meanwhile, state of the art cryptographic software encrypts your files, emails, and instant messages, while internet data is routed via Tor.

Each time you use Tails on your USB flash drive, it starts a whole new session, retaining no data. This helps to enhance your online privacy and security—just be sure to use secure passwords!

Download: Tails live operating system

7 Different Ways You Can Use a USB Flash Drive

By now you should have an idea of the different ways you can use a USB flash device.

  1. Unlock your PC
  2. Run portable apps
  3. Improve Windows performance
  4. Store vital documents for travel
  5. Backup your USB flash device
  6. Install any operating system
  7. Stay secure with Tails operating system

However, we’ve only scratched the surface. You’ll find many other ways to use a USB flash drive. We’ve even looked at some flash drives you can use with your iPhone.

Struggling to get your USB device to work? It could be a problem with your computer. Here’s how to fix a broken USB port USB Ports Not Working? Here's How to Diagnose and Fix It USB ports not working? This article explains how to quickly identify the problem and fix it as fast as possible. Read More .

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Bert Visscher
    May 27, 2020 at 10:15 am

    I know this is an old article, but I'll still say it.
    Don't you think the title is rather presumptuous? I certainly do.

  2. Godel
    November 18, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    ReadyBoost was a joke even when it was introduced. As most it gave a 2% to 3% improvement.
    If you are storing travel documents on a USB, which can be good idea, MAKE SURE THE FILES ARE ENCRYPTED in case the USB is lost or stolen.

  3. Larry Lovering
    November 18, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    You can also create a large music drive for cars that have a USB connector.

    • Isaac
      February 17, 2020 at 4:51 pm

      This was the best idea from the list! Took a little tinkering to get Playlists to work, but not I have an easy ipod replacement!

      • Alison
        June 22, 2020 at 5:21 pm

        Hi Isaac, I'm very very non-tech lol. Can you describe exactly how you got a playlist of songs onto a USB stick for people like me? Thanks!

  4. JonZone
    November 10, 2019 at 2:28 am

    A computer with a fan is the only cool thing relating to a connected USB, and surely a mature-age deputy editor has knowledge of common-sense descriptive words than the ill-educated childish use of 'cool' for everything other than the temperature.

  5. Darshak Shah
    October 15, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    Is it possible to install 32 bits running printer in laptop with 64 bits regularly

  6. Bert Visscher
    September 22, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Don't you think the title is rather presumptuous? I know I do.

  7. Swamy Om Shekharananda
    July 23, 2019 at 1:56 am

    Very useful infor
    mation indicating provision available IN USB drive

  8. Perry
    July 11, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    So... if you run out of things to write about you just have to edit a very little bit and repost something from 2012? Seriously... I'm not only not impressed. I'm a bit saddened.

  9. Odd
    October 25, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    I'd like to say thanks for the info. I had no idea & I'm still confused about RAM and if I take one out will it messed up what I already have on my computer? so I still don't know that- but I do need to utilize the extra space for RAM Because is not allowing me to access my computer at all

  10. David
    December 30, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I like the additional uses for the USB but from the article they seem to be only useful if your running Windows. I'm a Linux user and hope I can get them to work on my system. If any one has already do it I would appreciate some input.

  11. Maks
    December 1, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    After misplacing flash drives i tend to use cloud storage its always with me and I don't misplace it is there anyway I could use that instead of flash drives

    • Paul
      July 18, 2019 at 5:57 am

      Well you can't use cloud storage if you can't boot your computer. So that's a major negative. With a USB drive you "may" be able to boot your computer. Depends though on what exactly "is" causing the non-bootability.

  12. Moses to Jesus
    May 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Hey help I wanna reverse this stupidity that I have done ...Shit!
    Please how could return to Default if there was to undo what is this!!!!

    • Bert Visscher
      May 27, 2020 at 10:04 am

      If you would like us to help you, then you'll have to be more specific about your problem. Also, I strongly suggest posting about your problem somewhere else. Say, on Quora.

  13. arundeep
    January 26, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    thanq very much ready boos helped me a lot

  14. Praveen pandey
    December 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

    realy very useful tricks thanks

  15. gregzeng
    October 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    "Increase Performance With ReadyBoost" - but in my case, with a Class 6 SD flash card in the SD slot.
    USB 2 or 3 flash sticks allow RAID-0 in Linux operating systems. On most (all?) portable computers, this is probably the only way to bypass the slow cylinder-based hard disk drive(s). In my dual-HDD desktop-replacement notebook, I can also RAID-0 in Linux as well, but have not yet succeeded.
    Retired Chief Information Officer (1984), Australian Capital Territory

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Interesting idea, but USB 2.0 transfer speeds are nowhere near as fast as an SSD, so I'm not sure you'll get as much performance as you'd expect!

      • Richie
        August 21, 2016 at 8:02 am

        That's why it said it won't let you use a USB if you're already using a SSD. Try reading the article before you make a comment that's almost an exact quote of what you SHOULD have just read.

    • Anonymous
      April 28, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Windows can use USB drives for striped volumes which are basically software RAID 0.

      But there is a reason why a RAID 0 is called a "suicide RAID"...

  16. Jeremiah Iliffe
    October 28, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Great stuff mate, but I'd probably lose the USB

  17. Declan Lopez
    October 23, 2012 at 12:31 am

    i carry two flash drives with me all the time; one is for storing files that i use all the time and the other one has slitaz installed on it.

  18. Vincent Chavez
    October 4, 2012 at 3:36 am

    WOW that is pretty cool. I should try it sometime

  19. Dude Mesiter
    October 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I just got a usb drive, didn't know most of this stuff, good article.

  20. Declan Lopez
    October 2, 2012 at 3:18 am

    predator works well. i installed it and used a 64mb sd card to lock and unlock my netbook.

    • Russell Behne
      July 20, 2020 at 5:34 am

      Does that locking also fully encrypt your drives in the computer? If not then don't rely on it to protect your ASSets, since it's easy to remove a drive and plug it into any other computer using a USB to SATA bridge, then read everything on the drive.

  21. Mani Ahmed
    September 17, 2012 at 7:33 am

    awsome article and it says about something which i never even thought off.

  22. Rashelle Puno
    September 17, 2012 at 5:34 am

    i wanna try using my usb to lock & unlock my Computer... very useful article... :)

  23. Naoman Saeed
    September 17, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Lupo pesuite even contains a portable dbms

  24. Carlos Martinez
    September 17, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Wow thanx 4 the nfo on flash drives. That is kewl.

  25. Asangansi
    September 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm


  26. Asim Ali
    September 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Waooo !!! these are the useful tips I would love to try ... thanks mate ...

  27. Dave Hill
    September 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    In a sort of related sidenote - the last freeview lcd tv we bought has a usb , which becomes a pvr when you plug in a memory stick despite no mention of this in the manual - fully integrated with the EPG !

  28. sonnylim
    September 16, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Now I have uses for the many USB sticks I tend to received as gifts!!!

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:40 am

      I have so many little USB sticks lying around; it is kind of silly.

  29. Christopher Webb-Orenstein
    September 16, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Pretty nifty, I'm going to try out using it as a access key.

  30. RH hassan
    September 16, 2012 at 12:47 am

    THAnkss man .......ITs reallyyy amazing tips

  31. Loreson San Juan
    September 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    For ReadyBoost to be effective your USB stick memory must be atleast twice your RAM.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:40 am

      Not necessarily, no -- but if you have a lot of RAM ReadyBoost won't help much.

  32. alex
    September 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    i m unable 2 download the actual version in utube.only voice are

  33. alex
    September 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    i m unable to play utube.videos are downloaded but only voice can!

  34. Todd Troutt
    September 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I like the idea of using a usb stick for readyboost, but I've read it REALLY cuts down on their life span. If this is true, how quickly will they wear out?

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:40 am

      Depends on the drive and the use, I suppose. USB cells have a limited amount of write cycles, so it depends on the size of the drive and how much it's being written to.

  35. SK Tan
    September 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Interesting to know that the usb can be used as a laptop lock.

    • Russell Behne
      July 20, 2020 at 5:48 am

      It's more interesting to know that I can still pop out your hard drive and use a SATA to USB bridge to plug it into any other computer, then copy all your files - because your drive isn't encrypted.

      So if you're using it to protect your files, be advised that encrypting your drive is more important than using a USB as a key to boot your computer.

  36. Patrick Jackson
    September 14, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Nice article, although I knew all but one things!

    It's sad that most of the stuff can be done in Windows Vista/7, completely removing the advantage of 'portability' of flash drives.

    Please release an article which are also applicable to Windows XP as well, if not every OS, as I am still around many 'XP PCs' and a loyal user of it as well!

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:39 am

      Well, we did include an XP-specific tip, at least.

  37. Kelly Buchanan
    September 14, 2012 at 5:43 am

    The Server 2Go is a new to me. Great idea.

  38. Sumaiya
    September 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    i would love to lock my computer with a usb stick

  39. Ronald Smith
    September 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Some of this I already knew, some I didn't. I really like the idea of using a flash drive as a lock on my PC. That alone gives me a killer idea for a small mod project. #brainstorminoverdrive

  40. Christian Purol
    September 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    never imagined that those Lock & Unlock features are possible!

  41. shubham jadon
    September 13, 2012 at 8:06 am

    quik connect to wireless netwrk is really vry nce

  42. Sari Gama
    September 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    This is really cool! I didn't know about any of those ideas!

  43. Ellen Odza
    September 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for this. I may dl predator to lock my laptop. If nothing else, I'll feel like an international spy every time I use it!

  44. Alex Perkins
    September 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for the article, I knew you could add the wireless profile to a usb stick but I wasn't sure. I now don't have to type in the damn passcode every time someone comes over, just wasa, plug, connect.

  45. Ray Randall
    September 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    cool stuff, didnt know about the web server so I will give it a go

  46. prince
    September 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    what if the usb stick is being lost ?

    • Bert Visscher
      May 27, 2020 at 10:10 am

      Then I'd suggest catching it quickly, before it *is* lost.

  47. Totoy Badiola
    September 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

    You did not mention that the pendrive allows you to boot from any computer in your Linux-based OS with your own customized settings. This would be most helpful specially when your Windows OS crashes on you.

  48. AP
    September 12, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Really cool tips, but I am looking some suggestions and reviews on on 'antivirus and internet-security' for USB sticks .

  49. J. Benjamin
    September 12, 2012 at 5:25 am

    Stay away from the server to go site, I just got hit with malware from there that made it through both microsoft's av and anti-malware programs. Luckily I have a home server that does daily backups so I won't lose anything important.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:38 am

      Yikes, did you? Maybe they had a problem with their ads; I installed the software myself and didn't have any problems or antivirus warnings.

  50. Edward Bellair
    September 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    You tell the spammer Fred! I will be trying a few if not all of these.

    • ady
      September 12, 2012 at 5:43 am

      U can install XP from USB stick instead of a CD drive

  51. sl0j0n
    September 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I used a 16GB PNY flash drive like a hdd.
    I put Ubuntu on it, and when I rebooted, I choose the flash drive as the boot drive.
    I'm trying to learn Linux,
    and it runs *way* better on the flash drive than a 'live CD'.
    Unfortunately, I tried to wipe it and install another version,
    and now I can't get the drive to 'recover' to the point of being able to reinstall
    Any suggestions?

    • UbuntuGuy
      September 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Plug it into a Windows pc and it will ask you to reformat it.

      • sl0j0n
        September 14, 2012 at 3:17 am

        Yeah, no, that didn't work, either, over and over and over,
        over and over and over, again.
        In fact, by the time I posted about here,
        I'd already tried like 8 or 10 different freeware programs to partition and format it.
        I went on to try about that many more.
        A *partial* list includes;
        Active@ Partition Manager Free Edition.exe,
        Aefdisk command-line-tool.exe,
        Aomei Partition Assisstant Home Edition.exe,
        EaseUS Partition Master Home Edition 9.1.1.exe,
        Eassos PartitionGuru Free.exe,
        Eassos Partition Recovery Free.exe,
        MiniAide Magic Partition Home Edition.exe,
        Paragon Partition Manager Demo.msi, [an old 'standby', it wouldn't run under win7],
        Partition Wizard Home Edition.exe,
        Partition Wizard Home Edition.iso,
        Wondershare Disk Manager Free full719.exe.
        I also tried the partition and format tools in a few Linux distros,
        Mint and Ubuntu spring to mind.
        Finally, I solved the problem,
        by downloading/burning and using the latest GParted version.
        IF you have a similar problem,
        do NOT hesitate to try GParted LiveCD
        Really, go ahead and dwnld now, and burn it to disk,
        so you'll have it—when you need it.

        Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

        • UbuntuGuy
          September 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

          OOPS! Sorry, I abandoned this thread. Yes, Gparted would have been my second choice if the Windows trick failed. I use it regularly when installing operating systems.

          Another great tool for your arsenal is the Parted Magic CD
          Take a look at the screenshots.

        • Greg Zeng
          October 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm
        • Greg Zeng
          October 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm

          USB sticks and flash cards have limited lives, including complete breakdowns. Independent bench tests (url misplaced) have shown that flash sticks format.& cards give almost unpredictable bench results, regardless of brand or claimed speeds.
          In you case IMO you have experienced something that happens several times each year: flash breakdown.
          One manufacturer claims that only use 'quick reformat'; not full reformat. I only buy the cheapest available on eBay, so have found that complete or fast format makes no difference.
          To my biggest surprise, my flashsticks & cards survive the front-loading home washing machine (warm water).
          Since I multi-boot (2xWindows, + 6 Linux operating systems) on my main PC, plus maintain other machines, I very heavily use many flash sticks & cards; plus smartphones, cameras, tablets, netbooks, etc.

        • Greg Zeng
          October 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm

          This article & the comments that follow miss out THE MAIN PURPOSE of a flash stick: DEBUGGING.
          On the many 'computers' that I maintain, it could be hardware, software, networking, malware, incompatiblities, etc ... so I MUST use a flash stick to debug.
          Linux has many specialized debugging-specialized operating systems. However, I use Xubuntu (lightweight, speedy) 32 bit, loaded with antivirus & all sort of hardware drivers, to debug anything & everything with a USB port.
          USB ports can also take WiFi, bluetooth, screen, audio and keyboard add-ons. These, as needed with my Xubuntu USB stick, can debug almost everything.
          All operating systems and the popular multi-national apps also have much international junk on them. This I remove, plus other operating system rubbish: unreadable files & folders, pagefiles, hibernation, etc.
          Often the boot drive becomes so overloaded that the computer refuses to operate.
          To those who do not know Linux, the 'buntu distributions can easily read-write all NTFS and AFAIK Apple file systems. Personally my PCs are in the W7-NTFS-compressed-encrypted file formats, & the 'buntu brand of Linux can easily co-exist with this.

  52. Yash Desai
    September 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Predator looks really cool, but i would probably end up losing the flash drive

  53. Muhammad Ahmad
    September 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Chris, this is really very informative post. I did not know these things before except ready boost.

  54. Gilmertz Gaari
    September 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Sounds very interesting.
    I'll try one of these with my spare USB drive

  55. Henry Ward
    September 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    "You won’t see much of a performance boost if you have a 7200+ RPM drive"
    I'm confused, does that mean you will only see a performance boost if your drive is slower than 7200 RPM?

    • Del
      September 12, 2012 at 1:09 am


    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:37 am

      In my opinion, yes

      • Henry Ward
        October 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        Thanks. Didn't know you could get HDDs below 7200 RPM. On older systems I presume?

  56. Kao Vang
    September 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    The USB lock and unlock is 'cool.' Reminds me of the Bluetooth application that does the same when you have your phone on you and you get close to your PC.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:37 am

      Oh wow, that's a great idea!

  57. James
    September 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Well, a nearly similar issue i would like to be discussed more here .... is how can I make my mobile phone ( with a memory card) bootable throught USB mode.

    Is it possible to load multi-operating system from the bootable mobile phone (through USB mode) .

    Thanks for your answers.
    A newsletter on "the use of mobile phone as a bootable device" would be much appreciated.

    kind regards,


    • UbuntuGuy
      September 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      I'm assuming it's an Android - You could install Ubuntu Live on it. But it might not be useable as storage afterward on the phone itself. When you plug in your phone into your computer it becomes a regular USB flash drive. Once Ubuntu Live (or your Live distro of choice) is installed just boot your pc off of your tethered phone.

      I was going to try it on my Android one of these days.

      • Chris Hoffman
        September 30, 2012 at 3:36 am

        That's certainly an interesting idea, but I'd be scared of messing things up by making another partition on the device bootable. Seems like more trouble than it's worth, to me.

  58. Noman Fayez
    September 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    3 new uses learn today but one of them going to be obsolute..........

  59. Humza Aamir
    September 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Predator seems a very cool thing to have :D. Though the conventional methods are more practical.

  60. Vampie C.
    September 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Nice idea to carry a webserver in your pocket. :-)


  61. Vipul Jain
    September 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

    that lock thing is new & impressive i must add!

  62. Igor Rizvi?
    September 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Iv jsut made this quick wirelless connection to my girlfriend,thanks alot! very usefull

  63. druv vb
    September 11, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Nice article. Tried Predator back in 2010, but having to keep it plugged in, while using the PC was boring for me...
    My USB flash drive houses the Puppy Linux OS, together with TRK.
    I also keep lots of tools and softwares to troubleshoot PCs.
    My last thing would be flash drive with a physical lock for write access.
    But for now am moving from flash drive to flash cards (in a card reader) that gives me physical lock for write access. This way I can protect my data from being overwritten by nasty malwares / viruses.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:34 am

      Yeah, Predator seems cooler at first glance than it really is, I bet.

  64. Vanja Gorgiev
    September 11, 2012 at 8:52 am

    so much cool options, i never had an idea that the old usb stick could be so useful :D

  65. Nabil A Swileh
    September 11, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Thanks for the great tips.

    I have question about the 1st tip: Lock & Unlock Your Computer,
    what if the flash thumb got damaged or corrupted files, how to unlock the windows then?!

  66. Usman Mubashir
    September 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

    now this was awesome

  67. jake
    September 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

    I use mine for carrying around setup files like antivirus and anti rootkits, I use them during and after cleaning up viruses for friends and family. All my recommended apps are in there. I great use for a USB Stick that I haven't done before is for a dead drop.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:34 am

      Portable apps are really awesome if you frequently use multiple PCs, definitely. That's why we have a list of the best!

  68. GayashanNA
    September 11, 2012 at 7:39 am

    One of the best articles. Thank you for all the new information!

  69. Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
    September 11, 2012 at 5:18 am

    Is there also software like PREDATOR that allows the usage of a password(maybe even multiple passwords), in case the USB gets damaged/lost?

  70. Muhammad Hadi Nasir
    September 11, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Just now I know more about Flash Drive. :D

  71. Paul Girardin
    September 11, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Thanks for sharing!

    Interesting ideas!

  72. Ahmed Khalil
    September 11, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Very nice i like it. specially using the USB as a key for the PC but my question what will happen if the USB damaged for some reason, is their any back door to unlock the PC?

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:33 am

      See Jason Reid's post above; he answered this.

  73. Ramesh
    September 11, 2012 at 4:46 am

    already started with preadator looks cool

  74. Michael Jan Moratalla
    September 11, 2012 at 4:00 am

    I really thought that you can use your flash drive as a key, something like to open your pc, now I have a proof to prove that theory of mine thx for the info!

  75. Jason Williams
    September 11, 2012 at 3:57 am

    very interesting, the Predator lock the pc ideal may be useful in my company.

  76. xbalesx
    September 11, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Thanks for the info...going to try out one suggestion on an older laptop of mine. I will report back here how it helped with the speed. In a week I am converting it over to we go.

  77. Mark McKenna
    September 11, 2012 at 3:54 am

    What about some unknown uses for us Mac users? Can you instal MAMP on a flash drive? That would be handy.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:32 am

      You probably could somehow, but it doesn't seem like anyone's done the work of making it nice and easy.

      (Sorry, I'm not a Mac user, myself.)

  78. nikhil agarwal
    September 11, 2012 at 3:49 am

    One more thing, you can also install Operating System on USB drive (at least linux) and use it on any computer with your personalized settings

  79. salvador hernandez
    September 11, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Great info that may come in handy.

  80. Rathish
    September 11, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Excellent article ..was,nt aware of any of the 5! Thanks for contributing!

  81. Roystan Ang
    September 11, 2012 at 2:50 am

    What if you lost your USB drive after your PC is locked?

    • Jason Reid
      September 11, 2012 at 6:21 am

      According the Predator's website one can still unlock his or her computer.

      FAQ: How to unlock a session using the password ?

      Follow these instructions:

      Click anywhere on the screen with the left mouse button, then press 3 times the Enter key, which will bring up a dialog for entering the password, and a countdown.

      You have 3 tries and 20 seconds to type the password. After this time, the alarm will be triggered.

      If you have not managed to enter the correct password after 3 attempts, the session will be locked for 5 minutes and you won't be allowed to retry during this delay.

      Note: entering a password, whatever its outcome, is recorded in the log. By reading it, you'll know if someone tried to unlock your computer.

      • Nabil A Swileh
        September 11, 2012 at 8:44 am


  82. Robert Laffey
    September 11, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Some really useful ideas.... keep them coming

  83. UbuntuGuy
    September 11, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I carry Ubuntu Live on a 8GB USB drive which is on my keychain. I can boot just about any late model computer and boot into a full Ubuntu OS with all of my settings/programs/documents/etc already there. Who needs to carry around a laptop when I have one on my keychain. Good tool to rescuce data from a virus infected Windows pc.

    • Richard Borkovec
      September 11, 2012 at 10:10 am

      I love having my Ubuntu live image anywhere I go. It certainly helps too when people's computers have gone wonky.

    • GrrGrrr
      September 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      could you please tell how much space is required to have ubantu live?

    • Hiren Patel
      September 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

      Me too :)
      I also Have Ubuntu Installed in My 8GB USB Drive.
      Sometimes help me When Windows Boot Fail.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:31 am

      We should have included that. I love live Linux USB drives.

  84. Alex Downs
    September 11, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Love finding new uses for flashdrives

  85. Ibrahim Nadir
    September 11, 2012 at 12:10 am

    excellent info man!

  86. Joel Lee
    September 11, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Using a USB like a key to lock/unlock sounds really cool. I think it'd quickly lose the sense of novelty, though. I'd give it a shot if I had a spare flash drive.

    • Lets Explain
      September 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      Chris, your info on readyboost is a little under-researched.

      I run 10,000RPM disks in a RAID 0 configuration. My read/write speeds can easily pass 200/120gb/s. To some, this would be considered ridiculous.
      Readyboost is still VERY useful even with my less common setup.

      Spinning disk drives are still very useful for reading data accessed in sequence.
      Solid state drives excel in just about all other ways though.

      You should use BOTH whenever possible. OS on SSD, cache (pagefile/swap) on the HDD. Why? Because it extends the life of your SSD, and improves performance, as long as you use readyboost.

      Yes, you do lessen the flash drive's mean-time-to-fail, but a 4gb flash drive is a whole lot cheaper than a SSD. One which may house your OS and important data.

      If you're still reading, good, you're going to learn something.
      Readyboost only swaps your small, randomly placed cached files. Which solid state (flash) memory is much faster at reading than a disk drive.
      Your large sequenced data is left for the disk to handle, which it handles well.

      • Chris Hoffman
        September 30, 2012 at 3:30 am

        Well, that doesn't fit with the benchmarks I've seen. (for example: ) If you have a lot of RAM, Windows just stores ReadyBoost data in your RAM instead of on a Flash drive, which is even faster.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 30, 2012 at 3:31 am

      It probably would lose the sense of novelty, but it's pretty cool at first glance. Just like in the movies!