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Top USB Drive Tricks

written by: C.D. Crowder•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/20/2011

Do you use a USB flash drive? Have a look at the following great tricks that will enhance your flash drive experience.

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    Boot a Separate Operating System

    Are you are a frequent traveler or headed to your friend’s house and want to take along your applications and games with their current settings. So, what should you do? Drag along your entire laptop or even pull the hard disk from your Desktop PC? No, don't make a mistake like that. Instead take your PC along on your memory stick. Do this with portable software called MojoPac – it's a standalone Windows XP installation that runs directly from a flash drive.

    Just plug in your MojoPac enabled USB drive into another PC, launch Windows from it, and start using your applications, games or documents directly from the stick. It is the best option for anyone who works on several PC’s regularly. With MojoPac, you can run your programs, open personal documents, etc, and no footprint is left on the host PC.

    MojoPac is a very convenient, portable, easy-to-use Windows virtual machine available for $29.99 with a free 30-day/200 boot trial download. MojoPac allows you to stick your "PC" on a flash drive so that you can play your games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, and more with their current game states. You can take your favorite antivirus program with you. You can listen to your music library, watch downloaded videos of choice, and surf the Internet with your preferred browser. With MojoPac, you have a backup of essential software so that if your PC crashes, you can plug your MojoPac drive into another PC and have everything back, ready to go.

    Note that MojoPac is only compatible with Windows XP. (A Vista version is expected later this year.) For download and instructions on how to install and use MojoPac, visit the website.

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    Encrypt Your Drive

    Ever concerned you will loose your flash drive where you stored years of gathered information? Ever worried someone will steal your drive and misuse your data? You should not worry any more because we will show you a simple way to encrypt personal and sensitive files or a entire external disk to protect them from intruding eyes.

    TrueCrypt is a free application that works on both Windows and Linux. It creates a virtual hard drive that will read and write encrypted files. With a pen drive with TrueCrypt installed, you just need to plug it in, enter your password, and start working like you normally would. Then you unplug it, and anyone other than you will need to enter your password in order to access the information.

    There is an alternative way to password protect files - using another free utility called OpenSSL. It is good for those comfortable on the command line.

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    Never Forget Your Drive

    With a simple popup reminder that appears at Windows logoff, never leave the office without your drive again.

    Follow the simple method to create a popup reminder:

    1- Open Notepad

    2- Copy as paste this line: WScript.Echo "Don't forget your flash drive!"

    3- Save the file as flashdrive_reminder.vbs in this folder: C:\WINDOWS\system32\GroupPolicy\User\Scripts\Logoff

    4- Go to RUN and type gpedit.msc (hit Enter) to open Group Policy

    5- Now, go to User Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Scripts(Logon/Logoff)

    6- In the right-hand-side window, double-click on Logoff

    7- Press the Add button to select the flashdrive_reminder.vbs (press all OKs to close the windows)

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    Speed Up Windows Vista With Your Flash Drive

    Using Vista’s ReadyBoost feature, you can make Windows a bit sharper and speedier. If you have got a spare USB flash drive with enough space, just plug it in and from the AutoPlay menu, choose “Speed up my system" to enable ReadyBoost.


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    Quick Launch Your Workspace

    The explosion of portable application has made lives easier by allowing us to carry our personal stuff on a flash drive, especially if you do your work on several PCs. It could be even easier if we could avoid clicking through your file system to open every application and document. Of course, it would be nice if we could have our workspace launched automatically from a flash drive. By setting up your flash drive to Autoplay, you can have your preferred workspace instantly launched when you plug in your drive.

    Before you learn how to do this, become aware that a recently invented Conficker virus is spreading fast by use of flash drives. Although it is a concern for Office users primarily, it can also spread by copying itself to removable media and use AutoPlay feature to launch itself and create a disaster. Protect yourself from this virus by running an up-to-date antivirus from a trusted vendor. Also, implement strong passwords and download the updates for your computer from the Microsoft Update website.

    Now, follow these simple steps to create auto-launch of your workspace on AutoPlay.

    1. Open Notepad

    2. Type in:



    ACTION = Launch my portable workspace

    3. Save the file as autorun.inf

    4. Open notepad again and type in:

    start “executable file of application you want to run" e.g. winword.exe

    (Note that you can run more than one application, just write the same command again in next line with your application executable file name.)

    5. Save the file as autolaunch.bat.

    Now, place the both files – autolaunch.bat and autorun.inf in your flash drive. The next time, you will plug it in, AutoPlay menu will appear, just double-click on your program name to run it.

    A good alternative is PStart. This program is designed to run portable apps such as portable Firefox, thunderbird, etc when you plug in your pen drive. Download it free from here.

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