Recently I have had the occasion to pay homage to the inventor of the thumb drive, technically called a USB Flash Drive.
Micro discs, floppy disks, zip disks, tape drives, backup drives, over the years we have tried them all to preserve our data in case of tragedy. Now these popular little buggers, available in assorted sizes including 1 & 2 gigs, hold a ridiculous amount and allow us to keep our precious data literally close to our hearts.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports are popping up on everything. Every new gadget plugs in – keyboards, cameras, fans, vaccums, even coffee mugs. But the best plugin so far is the humble flash drive. Using drag and drop, you can either copy your data or use automated backup applications to do it for you.
Last week, I had to replace 2 computers at my day job and if I hadn’t been wearing the most important data around my neck I would have been in a panic. Customer files, documents, Quicken files, book databases, even utility programs, software setup programs, printer drivers, all live on my thumbs. In case of fire, a thumb drive on your keychain can save your sanity. Simply reinstall your major programs drag & drop your datafiles and you are up and running anywhere.
On a further note, the new trend in the wind is AWAY from desktop or even laptop dependency. Surfing through life from computer to computer with only a thumb drive may be in your foreseeable future. There are already many applications that RUN right off a flash drive. There are portable version of Firefox browser, Thunderbird email and OpenOffice, and more coming. Toss that in with the new trend towards Web-based applications (software that runs off the net not installed on your PC) like Google’s, Calendar, Gmail, Writely, and Spreadsheets, as well as file sharing websites like Google video, Flickr, YouTube – we may never have to buy or install software again.