7 uses of a USB stick you may not have known about

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Joel Fulleda
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7 uses of a USB stick you may not have known about

How to make the most of portable memory

We've all used USB sticks to carry files between computers and to back up files. However, there are other very useful things that can be done with a key. Such as locking and unlocking the pc, just like in the movies.





Or to quickly connect a wireless network to all PCs in the office or at home, increasing the performance of the computer, or even manage a Web server, always directly from the key.

Here are some amazing ways you can use a USB stick:

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1) Use a key to lock and unlock the PC

Do you want to lock and unlock your computer with a physical key, just like you see in the movies? With the tool PREDATOR it's possible.

PREDATOR transforms a USB stick into an access control device, basically a key for the computer. When you leave your pc, you unplug the key and your computer is automatically protected. When you return, you put it back on and your computer is unlocked.

It's a bit like using the Windows lock function, except you don't have to type in a password here. When disconnected, open windows are minimized and the screen goes blank. Plug it in again and the screen will be restored again.  

2) Run portable apps anywhere

One of the most annoying things about software, in general, is that it usually needs to be installed. With portable apps, however, this isn't necessary.

Portable apps and games can be easily copied to a USB stick, and run from any suitable device (usually a PC with a 32- or 64-bit operating system). Browsers, mail clients, messaging apps and games can be run from a USB stick.


It's a particularly useful solution if you're keen to have an assortment of apps available on any PC that may be nearby. This could be in a library or even a cyber cafe in the holiday resorts.


3) Increase performance with ReadyBoost

If you have a slow hard drive in your computer, ReadyBoost can speed it up. When ReadyBoost is enabled on a drive, it acts like a cache for the hard drive, accumulating frequently used files in memory.

If it is faster to read from the USB stick than from the hard drive, Windows will read the cache of the stick. You won't see a huge performance boost if the hard drive is 7200 RPM. If you have an SSD hard drive, Windows will prevent you from using ReadyBoost because the cache is slower (!) Than the SSD.

To enable ReadyBoost, right click on a USB stick in the Explorer, select Properties and use the options available on the ReadyBoost tab. Windows allows you to enable ReadyBoost only if the key is fast enough: that's why you might see these options masked in gray. Furthermore, ReadyBoost requires a minimum of 256 Mb of free space.

4) Fare backup con Win32 Disk Imager

If you are using your USB stick for various purposes, it may be useful to back up the contents. An easy way to do this is with Win32 Disk Imager.

Although this program is usually used to write bootable images to USB sticks, it can also be used to create image files. Just install it and run it, insert the key and select a name and destination for the image file. Click on Read to read its contents.


When you need to restore the disk image, simply take it back and click on Write.

5) Save essential travel documents

If you travel frequently, it is possible that you have sometimes lost documents. Visas, reservations, even passports can be lost. And putting the documents in the wrong suitcase can lead to big problems if the baggage handler makes some mistakes.


One solution may be to save all travel documents on a USB stick and take it with you. You could include, for example, scans of the passport pages, so that if it is lost you can provide it to customs so that the appropriate checks are carried out.

6) Install virtually any operating system

The USB bootable images of the operating systems can be used to install a new operating system on the PC.

For example, Windows 10 users can create a bootable USB installation disk using a dedicated tool. Should a problem arise with the operating system, this stick can be used to restore or even reinstall Windows.

Likewise, all types of Linux can be installed directly from USB. Many offer a live environment, and provide a good impression of the operating system running directly from USB prior to installation.

7) Protect yourself online with the Tails Live operating system

Alternatively, you could use a USB-executable operating system to keep your online activities private.

The solution is called Tails, which unlike other operating systems is able to preserve privacy and anonymity. No logs are kept in the operating system. Meanwhile, encryption software encrypts files, emails and instant messages, while data transiting over the Internet is routed through Tor (the navigation system that allows you to surf anonymously on the internet).

Each time you use Tails on the USB stick, a completely new session is started, with no previous data. It goes without saying that this helps improve online privacy and security. Just make sure you use strong enough passwords!

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