We’ve all used USB sticks to transport files between computers and back up our files, but there are other cool things you can do with a USB stick. You can use one to lock and unlock your computer — just like in the movies. You can also use a USB flash drive to quickly connect to a wireless network on all your PCs, increase your computer’s performance, or even run a web server – directly from the USB stick itself.
Windows XP users can also check out Microsoft’s useful USB Flash Drive Manager application, although it’s been discontinued and does not function on newer versions of Windows.
1. Lock & Unlock Your Computer
Do you want to lock and unlock your computer with a physical device, like they do in the movies? Use the free PREDATORapplication, which turns a USB flash drive into an access control device – a key for your computer. When you leave your PC, unplug the USB stick and your computer will be locked. When you return, plug it back in and your computer will be unlocked. It’s like using the Lock function in Windows, but you don’t have to type your password when you return.
When you unplug your USB flash drive, your open windows will minimize and your screen will go dark – plug it back in and your screen will turn back on.
2. Quickly Connect to Wireless Networks
To save your Wi-Fi settings to a USB flash drive, click the wireless icon in your system tray, right-click your current wireless network, and select Properties.
On the Connection tab, click the Copy this network profile to a USB flash drive link.
Click the Next button and Windows will copy the settings for the configured network to your USB stick. Connect the USB stick to another computer, and then double-click the setupSNK.exe file on it to install your network profile on the computer.
3. Increase Performance With ReadyBoost
To enable ReadyBoost, right-click a USB stick in Windows Explorer, select Properties, and use the options on the ReadyBoost tab. Windows will only let you enable ReadyBoost if your USB stick is fast enough, so you might see these options grayed out for some devices. ReadyBoost also requires a flash drive with at least 256 MB of free space.
4. Install a Portable Web Server
5. Use Microsoft’s USB Flash Drive Manager
USB Flash Drive Manager focuses on managing flash drives – you can back up images of flash drives to your computer, restore them, easily copy files to and from your hard drive, and label your USB stick. It brings together many common flash drive functions located in Windows (along with some that aren’t included elsewhere in Windows, like easy backup and restore) in one window – very convenient for less-experienced users.
You can also install a wide variety of portable apps which you can run off your USB stick without installing it.
Credit: Chris Hoffman
What are some of the cool things you’ve done with a flash drive? Leave a comment