What is on your USB memory stick?
April 28, 2006 10:44 PM   Subscribe

What *information* do you keep on your USB memory stick? Other questions ask about applications - I'm more interested in the data that you find it useful to carry everywhere. todo lists? contact information? Bank account numbers?
posted by cornflake to Computers & Internet (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A chatty question?
My answer is work data
Thread might not survive
posted by edgeways at 11:05 PM on April 28, 2006

i think it should survive - it may be useful to some people to see what others keep on their USB thumbs, like "oh, that's a good idea, i should keep my [insert whatever] on my thumb drive too!" etc...

so. being as i'm a graphic designer/ web designer, mine holds:

• a copy of my design portfolio, PDF resume, and a printable page of business cards, so if I'm out I can print temporary ones at any Kinkos.

• copies of my favorite workhorse fonts, so that no matter what machine i'm using, i can get to them.

• a folder full of code snippets - html, xml, php, ajax, javascrip, flash actionscript - so i can always find the code that does that thing...

• backups of whatever design/web jobs i'm working on at the time. can't hurt to have an extra copy just in case.

• a tiny little text file named " IF_FOUND_RETURN_TO.txt" that has my name, e-mail. and phone, so if anyone ever finds it and has the wherewithall to plug it in, they can reach me to get it back.
posted by ab3 at 12:11 AM on April 29, 2006

I track just about everything on my mind in a TiddlyWiki on my USB drive. It's a standalone wiki made with HTML, CSS and Javascript and all contained within one HTML file. It's an ideal solution for me because I use computers at home, work and school, and unlike a hosted wiki I don't need internet access to use it.

Like ab3 I also keep copies of my current projects and a file with contact information in the hope that my lost drive will find a good samaritan.
posted by brism at 12:58 AM on April 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

for statistical interest ... I use mine only as a sneakernet
posted by anadem at 1:54 AM on April 29, 2006

I keep:

- Portable Firefox
- My current project/other pertinent files
- The readme file from a driver I installed last year (evidently)
- Several contact numbers/email addy's that I claim to have memorized, but in reality often forget
- 2 Killswitch Engage albums, just in case I meet someone who requires an emergency transfusion of awesome
- A todo list. Nothing on this list has ever been done
- A list of ideas that always seem brilliant at the time, but later at home turn out to be not quite so
- A list of books that I want to check out, for when I'm shopping and can't recall the title of that thing that guy told me about that one time.
posted by Drunken_munky at 2:24 AM on April 29, 2006

I'll add to the "only for sneakernet" statistics. Portable Firefox, etc, all sounds like a great plan, but I use three computers every day (the PC laptop at work, the PC laptop at home, and this Mac laptop): but I'm thankfully capable of administering all three, so I've Firefox set up just the way I like it.
posted by jamescridland at 2:49 AM on April 29, 2006

Mine's both for sneakernet (secure PC with no network accessibility), and for carrying around critical writings.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 4:41 AM on April 29, 2006

...Bank account numbers...

I would never put my personal account numbers on a USB stick. If possible, one should only access sensitive personal and private financial information from a secure home terminal.

I keep music and applications I'm developing (currently Java) and projects on my USB drive.

But the TiddlyWiki and code snippets are excellent suggestions. Just excellent.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 4:48 AM on April 29, 2006

First thing I do with a new USB stick (or Flash memory card of any kind) is rename the drive to my mobile phone number, and create a text file with my contact information called REWARD IF FOUND.TXT
posted by Hogshead at 5:21 AM on April 29, 2006 [3 favorites]

I keep such files under a "Save" label in my gmail account, where they are generally always accessible. But same idea. The date column lets me know how recent the version is and whether I need to update it.

They are: export of all my contacts, resume/references, all my FF bookmarks, the code number that I could use to get a replacement car key if I lost mine while travelling, a backup of my todo list, names and phone numbers of credit cards (but not actual card numbers) and other stuff from my wallet like insurance info.

I also keep some reference items in a online wiki, like code snippets, a list of things to do when setting up a new computer (which apps to install, firefox tweaks, etc).

I only use my usb stick to move large amounts of files between one computer and another. Since I almost always only use my home or work computers, the only time a usb stick would be useful is while travelling without laptop, but I've found that a lot of internet cafes disable the usb drive, or else have the computer physically inaccessible, so in those situations you can't really count on it.
posted by clarissajoy at 7:52 AM on April 29, 2006

The .txt file is a great idea. I put mine on a split ring with a small address tag. mostly use it to transfer stuff.
posted by theora55 at 7:55 AM on April 29, 2006

First thing I do with a new USB stick (or Flash memory card of any kind) is rename the drive to my mobile phone number, and create a text file with my contact information called REWARD IF FOUND.TXT

What a great idea. Thanks!
posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:53 AM on April 29, 2006

I also use Tiddlywiki. I do keep backups of my "my documents" folder on it, but the data is 1) on the secured partition of the stick and 2) encrypted using 256-bit AES.

Further to Hogshead's suggestion, the only things on the "public" (i.e. unsecured) partition are the program used to unlock the secure partition, and a "READ ME IF YOU FOUND THIS.txt" file.
posted by gwenzel at 10:07 AM on April 29, 2006

Best answer: (Hmm, this is fun... Dunno if your title is an intentional wink, but this is like those "What's on your PowerBook?" ads Apple ran in the early 90s.)
  • __PLEASE_RETURN_IF_FOUND.txt (dittoing above)
  • A Work folder, including:
    • Work in progress: current projects and nonprofit work (this gets automatically backed up daily)
    • Links to work-related sites, Web standards references
    • Expenses to be filed
  • A Personal folder, including:
    • Home-project research, e.g. remodeling, car service issues
    • A shopping-list template (to print and check off before I head to the supermarket)
    • Rebate forms to be mailed
    • A list of music, movies, and books I've heard good stuff about
    • Full text of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
  • Passwords, Blowfish encrypted*
  • Free/licensed Windows utilities I use semi-regularly: SnagIt, SyncBack, Oscar's File Renamer, RoboForm (Pass2Go)
* Regarding passwords on a USB key: IMO as long as they're well encrypted, the convenience of shuttling them between home & work is worth the possible risk of capture/decryption. I've trusted RoboForm with this info for several years, and I'd change the passwords if the key got lost. (I'd fiddled around with early versions of TrueCrypt to encrypt the entire USB key, but had mixed results; will try again someday.)
posted by skyboy at 10:14 AM on April 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

About a gazillion pictures of my kid. I am one of those annoying genXer's who seems to think the web needs 500 MB of photos of my progeny. I update a web site for friends and grandparents with the pix on a semi-regular basis. Now that we have a 2nd one due, the volume of cuteness will only increase.

Basically, it's just for backup and sneakernet (eg, so I can get even more cute pictures off grandma's computer when we visit them).

And, after reading this thread, a returniffound.txt file.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:47 AM on April 29, 2006

I find these topics really interesting. At any rate:

* A portfolio of some of my photography
* Contacts, passwords, and financial info, all encrypted
* Scans of critical documents (birth certificate, driver's license, passport, some house stuff), encrypted
* Documents I'm in the process of writing
* Utilities, editors, and such for using the above for both Windows and Linux, along with a bootable damnsmalllinux

Everything is synced with SVN between multiple computers.
posted by brool at 12:45 PM on April 29, 2006

A free photo editor, called Irfanview.
Works right off of the memory card without having to install it on whatever computer you're using. I use it all the time since I'm transferring photos with my USB flash memory.
posted by jldindc at 1:49 PM on April 29, 2006

>About a gazillion pictures of my kid. . . Now that we have a 2nd one due, the volume of cuteness will only increase.

Actually, you will find that the volume will be about 1/4 of what it was for #1. Always happens.
posted by megatherium at 2:05 PM on April 29, 2006

Put me down in the 'helped' category, as I never thought before of making a returniffound.txt and putting it on here.

Also, as my computer just crashed, I really wish I had a copy of my resume on my flash drive. So I second that recommendation.
posted by anjamu at 3:35 PM on April 29, 2006

Depending on the memory card, I might put:

A txt file with return if found info, and copyright / don't-copy-this info if it will have my work on it.

A list of important information I might need (such as passwords, banking, etc), encrypted of course.

If the above is the case, I also include the software needed to decrypt (such as PGP), so I could access it on a machine with no web access.

Drivers, if I have a portable device (camera, mp3 player, phone, whatever) that needs a driver installed on a computer before they can talk to each other properly.

Phone numbers for everything. Friends, business, taxi services, etc. Email and addresses too if possible.

In one case, as part of a h4x0r tool kit, a bunch of electronics reference data, since it was unlikely I'd need it in the field, but would limit what I could do if I didn't have it, so I wanted to avoid the weight and size issues of having all those documents in paper form, since the point of the kit was to be small and portable.

The above two are basically the same thing - data that you probably won't ever need, and so would never bother to carry around with you, but which you have at some point in the past needed and lacked.
For example, the schedules for all bus routes in your city, and a map of same.
Memory cards are so small and cheap that it seems worthwhile to me to load one up like a toolkit for "the everyday-emergency" - not emergencies at all really, but those little unexpected complications that tend to happen when, say, your phone dies, or you get a flat tire, or someone changes something for which other things are already set in motion.

(Some of the above it makes sense to carry on paper too)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:50 PM on April 29, 2006

Spinrite and Memtest ISOs.
Contract boilerplate templates.
All kinds of install files.
posted by Caviar at 6:56 PM on April 29, 2006

I only use my usb stick to move large amounts of files between one computer and another. Since I almost always only use my home or work computers, the only time a usb stick would be useful is while travelling without laptop..

Me too. I travel for work a reasonable amount and don't have a laptop. I have access to my work server but the travel is to work with a different company and they don't. Files that can't be emailed around go on the flash drive. They aren't for me to work on, I only work on things stored on my shared work server (am avoiding multiple versions), they're for me to give to other people. It's currently holding photos of bacteria that I took on behalf of a post doc (and really need to get round to giving him).

I already work on so many different sort-of-integrated computer systems and have so many backup things going on the idea of setting up the flash drive as another commonly-used storage device doesn't interest me in the least. I'm trying to reduce the number of places crap is kept, not increase it.
posted by shelleycat at 8:00 PM on April 29, 2006

Just curious, for those of you who offer an "if found" reward... how much cash do you specify if any?
posted by |n$eCur3 at 11:05 PM on April 29, 2006

I don't offer a reward. (If it ever were lost and returned, however, I'd probably mail back a $20 gift certificate as a thank-you for their courtesy.)

In the file, after my contact info, I have a sentence that simply says, "Thanks for being a decent human being."
posted by skyboy at 8:39 AM on April 30, 2006

I don't specify the amount of a reward, I simply say there will be one. Since I've never lost a USB or Flash card, and the time I lost my phone the guy who returned it refused to even look at a bank note, this has never been put to the test.
posted by Hogshead at 3:49 PM on April 30, 2006

*PDF slideshows for courses
*Other stuff I might need to show students
*Working copies of papers I'm working on
*The relevant data for them there papers
*Drips and drabs of other things that I haven't gotten around to deleting
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:57 PM on April 30, 2006

On both my 2GB flash drive and my iPod I keep a copy of my Docs folder, which I back up periodically using Microsoft's Synctoy. This has my writing, my resume information, and other important files. I keep the password stuff on both as well, protected with with Portable Roboform. I also have install files for various software tools. Finally, I have Portable Open Office and Portable Firefox. There's plenty of room left on the flash drive for sneakernetting stuff.
posted by lhauser at 5:10 PM on May 1, 2006

Trying to keep key info on both a home and work computer was making me nuts. I keep contacts, calendar, passwords, current projects, help files, utilities & GTD stuff - among other misc "stuff". Will be adding - if found.txt + photocopies of passport, drivers liscense, etc.
posted by JBell at 8:34 AM on May 2, 2006

What program do you use to encrypt your data? My USB stick came with a little encryption program I deleted because it was PC-only, and I use my flash drive to move data (work project files and information) between a WinXP PC at work and a PowerBook at home, so I'd need something cross-platform or I'd need a program for each platform. I'd be interested in recommendations.
posted by Nunnzio at 10:47 AM on May 2, 2006

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