Using Your Mobile Number As A USB Label Really Works

We always like hearing about how posts on Lifehacker have helped people out. Reader Xavier took up our suggestion of labelling a USB key with your mobile phone number, and found that it worked for getting the key back even after a three-month break.

Here’s Xavier’s tale:

As soon as I saw the post, I immediately changed all of my USB keys to a similar label because I thought it was a great idea (16GB – Pls call Xavier – 04XX XXX XXX).

Going back to mid-December, I was visiting one of my favourite microbreweries near Central Station in Sydney, and that’s when I lost my USB Key. The key was picked up by one of the bar staff and by the sounds of it, he/she isn’t the kind of person who was honest enough to call me up when found. After a few weeks they realised they had no use for it. Instead, it was palmed off to one of their friends.

When the key was eventually opened three months later, the friend had noticed that the documents I had on the USB looked rather important (my resume in particular). Now this was an honest man. He didn’t make any changes to any files. Nothing had been copied, opened or deleted. Just a random phone call this afternoon saying “Hey! I have your USB key here with me. Come pick it up.”

All I can say is “thanks!” for passing on great tips on Lifehacker like that one, as somewhere, at some time, to someone, it’s going to make a difference.


  • I did the same thing with my mobile ( alternative number) and the finder left it for me at Flinders Street station. Didn’t work for my iPhone, though.

  • I can confirm this works too. Dropped my keys on the way home a few weeks back, near the local shops. A few days later, the local real estate agent leaves a friendly message on the voice mail, and I got my keys back!

    • Jon,

      You sound like the Highway Safety person that was telling motorcyclists that the solution to the dangers of wire-rope crash barriers was simply not to crash.

      Unfortunately unintended things happen, and it is good to at least have some form of effective safety mechanism in place.

  • Being a traveller, I actually use my email address rather than a phone number (as 04… in Singapore may be the local taxi company for all I know).

    The assumption I base this idea on is that they have to connect the USB key to a computer to see the drive name, so why not make it something universal and accessible from the same computer?

    I also have my name and email address written on the outside of the key itself.

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