Who doesn't hate carrying around their laptop? Even the lightest ones weigh a couple of pounds and can be a huge burden to lug around the city. That's where portable apps, ones stored on a USB drive, come in.
Tagged With usb drive
Earlier this week, the Victorian Police issued an alert about malware-laden USB thumb drives being found in residents' mailboxes. The idea of distributing malware through USB sticks isn't new and yet research has found that many people would plug in a USB drive that they find in a public place. This kind of attack is known to be used by attackers to gain access into corporate networks by luring careless employees into plugging in booby-trapped USB sticks in their work computers. More education is needed to warn end-users about the dangers of USB sticks found in public spaces.
Most of your digital files are probably stored up in the cloud these days, but the humble USB stick still comes in handy every now and then. It's a simple way of getting data from one computer to another or just keeping a backup of important files. If you're struggling to cram all your files onto one USB drive, here's a quick trick that can free up several gigabytes of extra room.
Windows only: If you have a U3-enabled flash drive, you might want to skip extra load time and the disk space the software chews up, and the U3 removal tool can help you do just that. U3 is a software bundle stored on a protected partition on a flash drive that emulates a CD-ROM when it's plugged into a Windows machine. While some people like the pre-packaged software and the sometimes expensive software add-ons, many people prefer to assemble their own suite of portable apps without restriction. The removal tool banishes U3 from your drive, reclaims about 6MB of space, and gives you a significant speed increase in load time. After removing the U3 software from a test flash drive, I found that the load time went from between 10-15 seconds, to around 2 seconds. U3 Removal Tool
Windows and Linux only: Free bootable image creator UNetbootin automates the downloading, imaging, and installing of Linux distributions onto USB thumb drives, creating a persistent, boot-anywhere desktop. We've previously featured rather involved guides to putting Linux on a flash drive, but UNetbootin does it all for you, from downloading the right ISO to setting up a USB stick as a bootable Linux drive. It can also convert almost any bootable ISO, so if you've got an old, smaller thumb drive not seeing much use these days, you can use UNetbootin to install a partition editor, a file-recovering live CD, or the Windows password-cracking Ophcrack. UNetbootin is a free download for Windows XP and higher and Linux systems. UNetbootin
This week's release of the Fedora 9 Linux distribution makes putting a full-fledged desktop on a portable USB thumb drive a three-click affair. Even better, you don't need Linux installed to create it, you can leave the data on your thumb drive untouched, and any files you create or settings you tweak remain in place the next time you boot up. After the jump, let's create a fully-functional desktop-to-go using a simple Windows program and a 1GB or larger thumb drive.
Windows only: Freeware application USB AutoRunner automatically launches documents or applications when you plug in your USB thumb drive. We've explained in the past how to auto-run apps or documents when you insert your thumb drive by making your own autorun.inf file—a Windows default convention for automatically launching files. USB AutoRunner creates this file for you, so setting up a working autorun.inf file is as simple as telling USB AutoRunner what you want to launch when you plug in. USB AutoRunner is freeware, Windows only. While you're at it, find out how to quick-launch your USB workspace. USB AutoRunner
Tired of having to look up which drive letter Windows assigned to his multiple USB thumb drives, one author at gHacks decided to assign each drive to its own folder nested inside a "USB" folder. Not only does it add some consistency to swapped storage, it also allows for a persistent shortcut on a Windows desktop. The short how-to: Run "diskmgmt.msc" from Windows' Run/Start Search box, right-click on your plugged-in drive and choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths." Then:
Click on the Add button, select Mount into the following empty NTFS folder and click on browse. Now navigate to the subfolder that you want to assign the USB drive to and confirm the assignment. The USB drive will from now on be accessible from that folder as well if it is connected to the computer.Hit the link for a more detailed explanation and a quick undo fix. Assign USB Drives to a Folder
Following up on last week's guide to creating a shortcut to Windows' Safely Remove Hardware dialog, the How-To Geek weblog details how to set up a shortcut or hotkey to immediately eject a specific USB drive, particularly handy if you typically only use one USB drive on your computer. The guide uses previously mentioned app USB Disk Ejector in conjunction with its command line options to create simple shortcuts for specific drive ejection. When you're finished, you should be able to instantly eject any drive with a couple of quick keystrokes without clicking through menus. These shortcuts would be perfect to index with Launchy for quick access. Create a Shortcut or Hotkey to Immediately Eject a Specific USB Drive
Productivity weblog Digital Inspiration rounds up several ways to travel without your computer, suggesting instead that you carry all the programs and documents you need on your USB thumb drive. We've covered most of the post's suggestions before, whether we were showing you how to carry your life on a thumb drive or rounding up the top 10 thumb drive tricks, so with the wealth of options out there for taking that thumb drive to its limits, I'm wondering:
You don't have to lease server space or keep your home computer always on to access a personal web server—you can run a web, FTP, and database server straight from a USB drive. A slim web server package called XAMPP fits on a USB stick and can run database-driven webapps like the software that powers Wikipedia, MediaWiki. Almost two years ago you learned how to set up your "personal Wikipedia" on your home web server to capture ideas and track document revisions in a central knowledge repository. Today we'll set up MediaWiki on your flash drive for access on any Windows PC on the go.
Windows only: Speed up your computer with a spare USB thumb drive with eBoostr, an XP-only application that brings the benefits of Windows Vista's ReadyBoost feature to XP. The app can work with up to four devices, up to 4GB on each, and its smart-cache feature gives speed boosts to your more frequently used apps and data. eBoostr could be perfect for XP users who want a little extra memory but don't want to install RAM themselves, or even for laptop users who've filled every free slot. eBoostr comes as a free trial version, which gives you four hours of functionality each time you boot up, or costs $29 for the full version. eBoostr
Windows only: USB thumb drives, memory cards and MP3 players are easy to take with you—and easy to misplace. Portable application iHound aims to make it easy to locate your items and report their theft if they've fallen into the wrong hands. The program places a small "MyPasswords" file that looks like a text document in a device's root folder, and if that file is opened, the iHound website can report the approximate location, IP address, computer name, and more and print a formatted police report. iHound is a free download and free to use after sign-up, although its maker says he may begin charging $1/month for each device starting in February.
All platforms: Pen drive-sized operating system Damn Small Linux—the savior of old PCs, non-booting systems and efficiency-minded users everywhere—released its 4.0 version this week. Notable changes include:New drag-and-drop capabilities in the file managerImproved Wi-Fi support (through ndiswrapper, madwifi, and other modules)New GUI interfaces for changing system preferences, managing printers and other tasksKernel upgrade to 2.4.31, which means better power management and device supportDamn Small Linux is a free download that fits inside less than 50MB, so it's easily booted from a CD, a USB drive, or an ancient PC with only 8MB of memory. Hit the link below, choose your download mirror and download the dsl-4.0.iso from inside the "current" folder.
Windows only: Carry any application with you on your thumb drive with freeware virtual PC software MojoPac Freedom. Back when we showed you how to build your own PC-on-a-stick with MojoPac, the application had a $30 price tag, but it has since launched several versions, and MojoPac Freedom is the freeware version. Even better, MojoPac Freedom supports all the data and application support of the rest, lacking really only customer support (aside from other premium features most regular users will never need). It still supports taking Microsoft Office, iTunes, video games, and virtually any other app portable. MojoPac Freedom is freeware, Windows only.
Booting Linux from an external drive with the applications and settings of your choice has never been easier after this week's release of Puppy Linux 3.0. Like Damn Small Linux, Puppy is small enough to fit on a USB thumb drive, and like Knoppix , you can boot it from CD. Puppy can also add your favourite open source applications to the desktop and save multiple user profiles back to your writable CD or thumb drive, too. Let's take a look at how you can take your operating system, apps, data and user settings to go with Puppy Linux.
PC only: Minuscule Linux distro Puppy Linux got a major upgrade this week to version 3.0, adding Slackware compatibility (which lets users install Slackware packages on Puppy). At a slim 97.6MB, Puppy's meant to be run from a bootable CD or USB drive and offers a full-on portable desktop operating system environment with the Mozilla Application Suite, AbiWord, Sodipodi, Gnumeric, and Gxine/xine built in, and the whole shebang runs from RAM. Puppy's a free download for PCs that can boot from USB stick or CD.