Carry a flash drive instead of a laptop

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

You can avoid lugging a laptop everywhere by installing your favorite apps on a USB flash drive and running them on any computer you want.

I’ll guide you in selecting a flash drive that’s best suited for portable software and tell you which apps you should install.

First, get the right drive for your needs

You don’t need to put an entire operating system on a flash drive to make it a useful travel companion. Instead, just set up a flash drive with the applications and data files you need and plug it into any PC you’re able to use. (If you do want to run a reduced version of Windows XP on your flash drive, Windows Secrets editor-at-large Fred Langa explains how.)

Today, I’ll describe the best flash drives for portable software. Next week, I’ll show you the best apps to install on your new toy. (Not all apps will run from a flash drive.)

When buying a new flash drive for portable computing, you’ll want to consider speed, capacity, and whether to buy a so-called U3 drive, as I explain below.

Faster read rates are better. If you plan to do serious computing with a USB flash drive, you’ll want the fastest drive possible. First, make sure it’s USB 2.0 or “high speed USB,” not USB 1.x. Second, remember that the higher the read rate in megabits per second (Mbps), the more responsive your apps will feel. Ian Richards, editor of the Support Alert Newsletter, recommends a read rate of 15 Mbps or higher and lists some of the fastest flash drives available.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-10-11: