USB Flash Drives: You CAN Take It With You

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Good things come in small packages… never has this bit of perennial wisdom been more true than for the USB flash drive.
An amazing little device, a marvel of technology… USB flash drives are the take along storage that’s more compact, more durable than anything that’s come before. As one who remembers those flimsy floppy disks, zip drives and the like, this easy to handle, totally durable way to store computer data… documents, programs, photos, videos, music, software… is a welcome innovation.
It’s no wonder these little drives have quickly gone from a “nice to have” to a “must have” for so many of us. USB flash drives are a hot trend because computers are such a part of doing business… not to mention our everyday lives. Popularity like this makes these tiny storehouses one of the investments you can make to increase the visibility of your business name and logo.
The term USB flash drive has only recently become the norm —  you might have also heard these storage devices called memory sticks, thumb drives, pen drives or memory keys. Whatever the name, the capacity of these devices has been steadily increasing. As of last year, there aren’t many under 256 MB or smaller; and many have started to phase out 512 MB capacity. High-speed is the standard… capacities of up to 128 GB at the forefront now.
And what are we all doing with all that speed and storage capacity? Greg Shultz of TechRepublic details lots of ways these devices can be used. Beyond transporting and securing your own finished documents, photos, videos, music files and more, they can…

  • run portable applications, database content and other files that can then be kept securely in another location.
  • support system administration by storing configuration info and software, ready to be used for maintenance, troubleshooting or recovery.
  • carry applications to run on a host computers without having to be installed on that system.
  • lock (and unlock) your own computer after the configuration of a free utility
  • use computer forensics applications that search and extract digital evidence on suspect computers.
  • boost the speed of an operating system like Windows Vista.
  • store music and marketing of digital audio files.
  • transfer high scores, screenshots and more between arcade sessions.

It’s easy to see why  USB flash drives are able to hold the interest of so many.
Impervious to scratches or dust and without moving parts, USB flash drives are incredibly reliable too. And with the USB port a part of virtually every system now, this only serves to enhances their popularity.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses…
It’s important to be aware of one potential downside of  USB flash drives, the security challenge these devices pose to other systems. They’re small and can be readily attached to a computer to copy files… great when it comes to regular data backups, not so good in the hands of an unscrupulous employee. They can also be used as an avenue to unintentionally transfer maleware and autorun worms to uninfected systems which is why some  companies forbid their use onsite altogether.
If you decide to use USB flash drives as a promotional tool, choose the best quality you can afford, and work with a product consultant to create a look for your business that’s just right. Plan carefully what you will put on the drive, and work with design and copy experts to polish your presentation — great technology can only take you so far… the rest is up to you.

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