How to take advantage of an old flash drive
Pendrives, flash drives or USB sticks are used for the obvious, i.e. to store information and take it anywhere.
However, many often ask themselves whether it is possible to do more with them? The answer is yes, especially if you want to give a new use to a device a little old and with limited capacity.
Older 1GB pendrives and even less storage capacity can be useful when performing various procedures, from installing an operating system, to carrying with you all kinds of portable applications and more.
Of course, this is something that can also be done with newer devices, but to avoid discarding older ones, you can make some sense of their existence by knowing how to take advantage of an old pendrive.
Transporting portable applications
Portable applications turn out to be an excellent and practical way to carry with you some tools that you always use on your computer.
For example, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to use a public computer or a friend's computer, it's very likely that you'll need to use some application in addition to the one they have.
And, to avoid the task of downloading, installing and then deleting it, you can transport it with you.
It should be noted that, to have a pendrive ready, you can access several sites that offer portable applications. For example, PortableApps, which has a suite of tools for all tastes, from various browsers, through antivirus, download clients and social networks, among many other things.
Another excellent alternative is Lupo Pendrive, a tool quite similar to the previous one and which has updated applications of all kinds such as: email clients, messaging, P2P, downloads, RSS news readers and many other things. Or you can even opt for CodySafe, an application launcher and a media manager.
Install an operating system
If you have downloaded some type of operating system such as Elementary OS, for example, you do not need to burn a CD for installation, because there is the possibility of doing the installation from a flash drive without any problem and regardless of the type of computer you have.
In addition, there are a number of operating systems as options for installing from a USB stick; even if you prefer Windows, you can also install any version from a USB drive.
Block your computer
While this is true, operating systems include the ability to set a password so that no one else can access the computer. In these cases, you can implement a long and complicated password, which will give you a lot of security.
However, if you want even more security but in a simpler way, you can use some simple programs that will make your old - or new - flash drive become a key.
That is to say, every time you insert the flash drive in the USB port, the system will be unlocked and if you take it out it will stop working. Some of the best options for Windows are: Active Lock and Predator.
Encrypt important files
Continuing with the topic of security, you can take advantage of an old pendrive to encrypt documents. This process is necessary if you want to prevent them from being accessible to anyone.
This may seem a little extreme in some cases, but it is always important to be careful, especially if you handle sensitive documents digitally.
But if you want to take advantage of your old pendrive, the best option is a free open source application called TrueCrypt.
TrueCrypt has different and interesting functions, whether it's creating an encrypted virtual disk, encrypting an entire partition on any storage device, among other things. In addition, everything is done automatically and in real time.
To use it with your flash drive, all you need to do is insert it into the USB port and choose the volume that corresponds to it to store the encrypted information.
Create partitions, clone Windows, or maintain your hard drive
If you want to format your hard drive, create or manage partitions, clone it, test and maintain your computer, operating system and hard drive in general, you need to use a tool similar to Parted Magic.
Parted Magic comes as an ISO because it is a complete Linux distribution, with all the necessary applications to do all the above and more.
Everything is completely free and to use it you must boot your system from the USB port, something you can configure in the BIOS.
In addition, one of the best options for running Parted Magic is to use Yumi Multiboot USB Creator, an easy-to-use tool for running an ISO, whatever it is.
Increase speed in Windows
Windows has a function called ReadyBoost, which allows you to increase the speed of the computer using a flash drive as a place to store cache applications.
This is a useful feature if you have little RAM on your computer, or if you need to have a little extra to load heavy programs.
Also, it's a good solution if you still can't make the necessary investment to increase the amount of RAM.
To use this function you must format the USB device with the method you like and make sure that NTFS is placed as a file system.
Then you can proceed to insert the flash drive in a USB port and you will get the window to ask what you want to do. In this window you will see at the end of the list the ReadyBoost option.
Rescue your computer from viruses
When your computer does not want to start, you may suspect the presence of a virus. A good way to solve these problems is with AVG Rescue CD Software.
With this tool, which you can load from a flash drive, you can perform a scan of your PC and find out if there is a virus causing problems. Although you can also take advantage of other utilities it includes.
To use this tool you must go to the download website and choose the version for USB memory stick. It comes in a compressed RAR file and inside there is an executable (.EXE) that runs on Windows.
Execute and choose the volume of the flash drive you will use, press Install and wait for it to finish. When it is complete it will be ready for rescue on the USB stick. Finally you only have to load it by booting the system from the USB port.
Protect a laptop from theft
To give a new life to an old flash drive, you can also make it work as an alarm so that you know when your laptop is removed from its place.
What you should do is download a small program called LAlarm, which runs on Windows 7, Vista and XP, and will be installed on a flash drive so that when it is removed from the USB port, an alarm sounds.
According to the developers of this application, it is recommended to tie the flash drive to the table or the place where the PC is, so that when someone pulls the computer, the flash drive can exit automatically.
Setting up a server at home
If you want to make a home server to test applications or web pages without having to pay for a service, it is also possible to do so by taking advantage of an old pendrive and through a tool called XAMPP, which is equipped with everything you need for this type of tasks.
With this series of tools that come packaged for use on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris, you can run from a flash drive if you decompress everything inside it.
The ideal thing is to keep the folder that XAMPP brings and that everything is placed in the root of the device, besides not having stored anything else to avoid conflicts.
Pimp my Pendrive
Although it is not a very productive way to give a new life to your old flash drive, you can change the old and boring look for a more imaginative one to be used again for some of the tasks mentioned above.
You can even give a gift to someone by filling the drive with music, pictures or anything else they like. In these cases, you can take ideas such as: putting the flash drive into a cassette, using a Nintendo control, making a teddy bear flash drive, among others.
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