questionswhat do you use thumb drives for?


I used to use them because I worked in the office some days and at home other days. It was an easy way to transfer files between the two computers. Today, with the domain setup, the computers can be synchronized so this is no longer necessary. Besides, this causes security issues if those devices get lost or stolen -- company information can be compromised. The systems we have today prohibit the writing of data to those devices specifically for this reason.

Now that my cell phone is a smart phone, I can store whatever documents I want on it and plug it in to whatever computer I want to transfer files. In some other cases, I've actually emailed myself the document so I can access that document from any computer connected to the internet.

So as it stands now, I don't use "Thumb Drives."


I use them constantly, to move media files from my laptop to the desktop in my entertainment center, to move files back and forth from my office computer to my personal laptop, to carry presentations for work from my own computer to wherever I am making the presentation, and on rare occasion to share files with friends. I would say I use a thumb drive on average 2x a day. That's more often than I use a phone.


I use one for Ready Boost to increase the RAM on my desktop, another with music to plug into the car radio, a third for storage of files and movies to transfer to the tablet so I am not using up the internal storage, a 4th with Apple's OS to boot my computer that way, etc.

In the Middleofnowhere, cloud storage is simply not an option because satellite internet has usage limits.

Using one for Ready Boost is a great, cheap way to increase RAM.


"Dude, this song is great! Who are these guys?"
"Oh, you've probably never heard of them, but if you bring me a thumb drive I'll give you their album."

Also, if you have a lab with specialized software (matlab, modeling) but do not have the program yourself, you need one to keep your data when you log off of the university computer.
If your printer gives out, it lets you bring the file to a buddy/library.


Yes, students use them. Every year they are on our school supply list. Kids use computers at school all the time, but can't bring the computers home. So they can, say, work on an English paper at school, save it to the thumb drive, then continue working on the paper at home.


I use them for quick backups, and to easily move things between systems. It's the simplest method, still, for making sure that the financial data in Quicken is something I can just use if I decide to install Quicken on another machine. I don't use them very often, and haven't bought a new one in a year or so, but they fill a niche.

I bought the M&M ones when they were offered (on meritline), because they just made me laugh (and because they were only a couple bucks).

I also use them as a quick way to take files from a windows machine to one of my other machines (it ends up being the quickest, and simplest).


@pitamuffin: Actually, the other reason I was asking the question is, I volunteer for a an organization that provides school supplies for kids, and they said that their most urgent need was thumb drives. So that makes sense.


Tools for cleaning dirty PCs and ethernet drivers.
Thumb drives were a nightmare for my kids and school. I had to guess the software they used and create a virtual machine for compatibility.

For people that still use jump drives for documents:


@curli76: It seems ridiculous to me that anyone would think that flash drives are the most important (or at least in demand) school supply. Even without @caffeine_dude 's great Google Doc suggestion, there are few places where flash drives are actually necessary.

On a related note, the reason you see sales on them so often is that they have a great profit margin, everybody thinks they need one, and they're small enough to be easily lost.


@trahentis: The organization said they needed thumb drives the most. Not that it was the most important school supply. They may have had the other stuff already donated. Whether or not people on this list may think thumb drives are necessary, they may be on the school supply list for that particular school as many schools are using computers and expecting the kids to continue their work at home. Requiring students to carry thumb drives is the easiest method (for the schools, not necessarily the students) of transferring documents back and forth between the classroom and the students' homes.


@trahentis: They didn't say they were the most important; they said they were what they needed the most in terms of what was already donated and what was yet to be donated.

I guess maybe if they're working on school computers that are used by other students, they save their own information for the next time they use those computers?

Also, a quick Google search shows that some schools have kids turn in their work on flash drives.


@moondrake @curli76: Ah, I see what you mean. I need to read a little more carefully. Thanks for bringing me back to earth.


When I was in college, which wasn't too long ago, I used one 8gb flash drive and pretty much kept everything I needed on there, from projects to transcripts. The smaller MB ones I don't see any real point for anymore, but the larger ones like the 64,128, and 256GB ones, are pretty much "thumb" sized external hard drives. The only downside is they're little and easy to lose.

I also just saw kingston will be coming out with usb 3.0 flashdrives up to a TB soon. Pretty Nuts.


rescue drive. Typically 2 partitions, one booting into linux in case I really borked something up and the other containing drivers and basic applications for a full reinstall of windows. With everything being in the cloud, assuming you can get online, you're pretty much golden.

The other place i use them is in my car. My stereo can play mp3s off of a flash stick, so I usually keep music on an 8GB to play when/if I don't have a good enough connection to stream pandora.


Both of my kids (rising senior and rising 7th grader) have used thumb drives for the past several years for school projects. The use them to carry reports and power points to school. The only bad thing is that they need to remember to save them at the lowest level as the school system doesn't update it's software as often as I update mine. And I can see why that would be a needed item as they are more expensive than notebooks and pencils/pens.


I just got out of school. I carried at least one 8GB flashdrive everywhere I went. My design files were large and I needed them in class and home. an ftp server or dropbox site wouldn't have done it for me due to speed. I was also required to turn in projects on them. They say you can get them back but who is going to return to school for a project they have saved on their home laptop and probably never want to see again anyways. I used to go to career fairs and grab up a bunch of free 512MB or 1GB to use for that purpose.

I do basically this same thing at work now. Also media files.


At work (public accounting), we basically use thumbdrives as a sneakernet between client systems and ours. Easier than sending 50+ MB via email, easier than setting up on their network, and less reliance on sometimes unreliable internet connections (4G hotspots).


by school I mean college :-P


I use them to transfer some smaller video files from my computer to my WD Live TV Hub ( when it doesn't warrant my portable hard drive ). I also keep some private information on one & it stays on my keychain. Other than that, I don't really use them anymore.


One of them goes into my car radio to play the most recent podcasts. Works better than iPod/iPhone because I never unplug it and it auto-resumes every time I drive from exactly where it left off. It doesn't sync automatically, which is why I drag the episodes straight from iTunes to the thumb drive. Very easy.

If you have one that's a little bigger, it can be used as an install disk for Windows 8 or OS X Mountain Lion.

I also keep one around for computer repair- a virus-infected computer can't always get online so I keep a copy of all my tools there.


True I hardly used them since I had cloud storage and SVN, but there are just some times where you really really want one. Particularly when you are working with someone who is not technically savvy and you need to transfer something between your machines. It is easier to give them a thumb drive than to point them to an SFTP site which would require them to have an FTP client. Even google drive links can be intimidating to luddites.

One thing that is handy is you can get all sorts of standalone programs that will run from your drive and write settings locally so if you use a lot of shared computers (which can happen in University) you can just carry this drive around and it could have a mail client (like thunderbird) and music client, dvd/cd burning program and all sorts of personal applications without having to put them on the actual machine you are using that day.


I just got a couple cheap ones for sharing photos with family. I am scanning pictures and Mom lives in a dialup area. I can send them snail mail faster than she can download them. I am also going to use one as a utility as mentioned above with rescue tools on it.


Wait a minute, nobody added torture...? what else is a thumb drive good for...

If you're talking about PEN DRIVES or FLASH DRIVES or even KEYS, that's different, it's the new style of sneaker net (instead of 3-1/2" floppies). And yeah, I've got everything from some 256 kb to 16 gb drives for transferring files, booting into Puppy Linux, or as emergency boot & anti-virus/trojan repair kits. Sorry, I just can't see much use in the 32, 64, or 128 gb drives, what's the point unless there were huge files involved.


It's a great way to get videos to my Xbox 360 when the network is too bogged down with other activity to stream smoothly.


As a going-back-to-college person who was working with a sketchy laptop and Google Docs for notes, having a flash drive was invaluable for storing MS Word documents in forms that did NOT have to be reformatted before turning in (because - let's face it - anyone who wants to do EVERYTHING they want in Google Docs will not get to do ALL of it together).

Final drafts and rough drafts, although saved to Google Docs, were also saved to my flash because sometimes there's NOT an internet connection on campus - or at home. It's rare, but it happens.

Also, if printing from a Kinko's or other "professional printing service", they actually require a copy of the file if you don't have an original printed already.

FWIW - I tried the "saving things by e-mailing to oneself" on my first college go-round. I lost DOZENS of rough drafts the first time my account got closed unexpectedly. Not that a Flash drive can't get corrupted, but I do advise multiple save options.


Isn't the better question "what don't you use them for?"


I have a Vertatim Tuff & Tiny in my wallet with an encrypted backup of important files (it's thin enough to keep behind my drivers license).

I have one at work to keep my personal files (e.g. music).

When my laptop hard drive failed recently, I used one to boot ubuntu until I got the drive replaced. That was a Sandisk Cruzer Fit, which barely protrudes from the USB socket, so it's very good for leaving in a laptop (the Tuff & Tiny is thim but sticks out further and could easily snap).

I back up playstation saves to one and sometimes they're more convenient or faster than copying via network.


My dad buys them in bulk and uses them to give people copies of photos instead of burning CDs. He finds them cheap, and some people return them after, so he gets decent reuse out of them.


@moueska: I use the "email things to myself" trick when going on vacation I save all my travel documents in my email so if something happens to my documents I can access them from anywhere in the world. I put them in my mailbox just before leaving and take them out after returning as email isn't the world's safest place to store records. But for those few weeks the value of having them at my fingertips is worth the relatively minor risk of someone else getting into them. I could accomplish the same thing with cloud storage I assume, but I am an old fogey and this newfangled cloud stuff is daunting and alien still.


When I was in college a thumb drive was an absolute must have. I took several computer science courses that required large project files that I needed to work on both at home and required me to work on a lab machine. If it was a group project, a thumb drive was the best way to share files. We had some storage on the campus network but the thumb drive was much more reliable.


Lifehacker just did a challenge - What do you use your USB flash drive for. The winner used it as an offline backup of Wikipedia:
"...Sure, computers might be hard to come by in a true emergency situation, but if the unthinkable happens, wouldn't you rather have the collected knowledge of mankind along for ride? You never know when that one little piece of information becomes vital."
There are some other interesting uses listed.

Here is the article: