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It’s not uncommon to open your desk drawer to a pile of USB thumb drives that you have collected; each one with a few files that you have needed to transport, but not being used to their full capacity. When you are always on the go, it helps to have those important files on hand. But your USB drive is more than just convenient portable storage, in fact, you can turn it into your portable primary work space with everything you need.
What you need
All you need to start is your USB thumb drive; you can also use a portable hard drive, but then you are looking at higher cost and not quite as conveniently pocketable. Use a USB 2.0 (high speed) drive with at least 2 GB of memory. Try to use a name brand drive that is more quality-controlled and longer-lasting.
Download a portable application program
There are application systems that have been configured specifically for use on thumb drives without needing to be first installed on a PC or Mac. For example, Portable Apps Suite (which is PC specific) has several open source programs you are already familiar with, including OpenOffice, Firefox and an anti-virus software.
It’s as simple as inserting your thumb drive and running the installer program. It will copy the files and create folders for everything you need. Once it is installed, you can delete any programs you won’t use from the apps folder. You can also search out additional programs as needed.
Configure your thumb drive
You are probably already familiar with the programs you now have on your USB drive because you likely use them regularly. If you have them set up exactly how you like them on your PC, you can usually transfer your settings pretty easily to your thumb drive version. Look for the instructions for each application (Portable Apps has very clear instructions under each application’s page) to find out exactly how to transfer your settings.
Load up your USB drive
Now is the time to load your documents, music, photos and any other files you need. Text documents take up a relatively small amount of storage space; we’d assume you will have enough room for at least a month’s worth of work on your 2 GB USB thumb drive. You can also load any reference material you think you could use, like a dictionary, thesaurus, PDF articles and more. If you need more space, just invest in a bigger storage drive.
Just like your computer, your thumb drive needs to be backed up regularly. Although it may not be prone to viruses as much as your computer, there are problems. Thumb drives get lost and eventually wear out. There are many programs out there that will allow you to backup your entire drive to a folder on your desktop by just dragging and dropping. Make sure to back up often – daily if you can – and if you purchase a new drive, simply move everything over without having to re-download anything.
With the busy schedules that come with today’s office environment, you won’t always know where you will be or what computer you will be using. Having the ability to bring your office with you on a thumb drive will make your work life easier. And the best part? Being able to share you files with anyone at any time, just by plugging in, dragging and dropping and needed.