Are USB Drives Really a Thing of the Past?

Are USB Drives Really a Thing of the Past?I’ve heard a lot of people say that USB drives have gone the way of cassettes — or CDs, for that matter. But I’m here to say that these devices, which are called something different by most everyone, still have a purpose in today’s world of cloud-based computing — so don’t throw away that 2 GB Homer Simpson flash drive just yet!

The Cloud

We hear a lot of talk about the “cloud.” Some people may boast that they save their entire life to the cloud. But what does that mean exactly? It means different things to different people based on their use. That definition is just as vague as the term itself. I’m currently writing this on a Chromebook, and saving the document to my Dropbox account. Chrome OS is a cloud-based OS, and Dropbox is cloud storage. So I am relying on an Internet connection to access my files stored on a server in another location or, to put it simply, in the cloud.

Then Why Do I Still Need a Thumb Drive?

The simplest reason you might still need a thumb drive is that maybe you just do not want your files anywhere but in your possession. You may have some sensitive documents and can’t take the risk of someone else seeing them. Online file storage is only as secure as your username and password.

Another reason may be to transfer files from one computer to another. It’s a common practice to email a file to yourself, work on it from a different computer, then email the edits back to yourself. That works fine until you have a rather large file. It’s also not uncommon to lose track of attachments and overwrite newer work.

Let’s take a look at cost of ownership, too. You can pick up a 32 GB flash drive for around $20.00. 100 GB of Dropbox online storage will run you $9.99 a month, or $99.99 a year if you pay all at once. And that’s a recurring yearly charge. To put things in perspective, a 1 TB external USB hard drive will run you under 100 bucks. If you don’t need to share files and folders with other people, you’re better off with a USB drive or external hard drive.

What Else Can I Do with My Flash Drive?

You can secure your computer with a USB drive, only allowing access by way of inserting your flash drive as a “key.”

If you’re a nerd like me, you can boot another operating system (OS) from it. You want to give Linux a try? You can boot directly from the flash drive, leaving your loaded OS intact.

Rid your computer of viruses. Sometimes, a virus can render your computer unusable, not even allowing you to access your desktop or files. You can create a bootable rescue and recovery right on your flash drive. You will then be able to scan and clean those pesky trojan horses right off your computer.

Let’s not write off USB drives just yet. They still serve a purpose in this world of online living. What other things do you use your flash drive for?

My name is Nick Alonge, and I’ve been a software developer for the last 20 years, creating everything from websites, traditional desktop applications, and most recently mobile applications. I started my own business five years ago after working in a corporate environment for 12 years.