USB flash drives (a.k.a., USB memory sticks or USB thumb drives) are very inexpensive, common storage devices; you can even regularly find them given away for free as promotional items. Even though they're cheap and ubiquitous, though, don't overlook the power of these little storage devices -- they can be highly useful tools for always having important documents and program settings on hand.
Benefits of using USB flash drives
Besides being very small and cheap, USB flash drives are really simple to use: plug one into a computer's USB port and you can access the documents stored on the drive immediately. You can also run portable programs from the drive without having to install them on the host computer. Because program settings (e.g., favorite bookmarks in Firefox) are also saved on the drive, it's like having your own personal computing environment with you wherever you go.
You can use a USB flash drive to:
- Keep emergency information and current project files always at hand
- Have your browser and other program settings with you for secure use on any computer with a USB port
- Troubleshoot and repair computer problems
- Make Windows run faster
- Run a different operating system without changing your hard drive
Read on for more details on how to use your USB flash drive as your own personal, portable computing enviroment...