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5 Things To Do With A Big, Fast Flash Drive

Friday, May 4, 2007
  1. Save some time installing Vista. Kurt Shintaku describes how to format a bootable flash drive with the contents of the Vista DVD. If your machine can boot from a USB device, this approach does shave some time off the Vista install.
  2. Improve Vista performance with ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost allows Vista to use a fast USB memory device as an intermediate caching area between memory and disk. Tom Archer has a ReadyBoost Q&A with the technical details.
  3. Carry a suite of portable applications. PortableApps.com packages a browser, email client, backup utility and more configured to work from any USB memory device. The standard suite of applications fills over 260MB of a flash drive with portable goodness. Relying on special technology, U3 provides portable apps for U3 smart drives.
  4. Run a different operating system. Live USBs, like Live CDs, are bootable flash drives with an operating system installed. Wikipedia's list of LiveDistros contains many Windows, *nix, Apple, and DOS distributions that fit on a key.
  5. Save some time installing Visual Studio. I've done this, and I learned one trick: the flash drive has to have the name "DVD1" for an MSDN installation to complete successfully. See Aaron Stebner's post for more DVD naming schemes.