November 12, 2006

Take your computer with you - USB drive style

Many of us have seen them and maybe even have one and use it occasionally. It's the USB drive, the successor the floppy disk, with a capacity hundreds of times larger. As these devices proliferate (have you seen how many different types and manufacturers there are now? You can get one if pretty much any color you want) there's people saying that it represents a shift in the way we should be using computers. Namely, we should use the computers to create the material, but then store in on the portable USB drives. That way, you data is always backed up, will never crash (USB drives don't have moving parts and thus are almost impervious to failure) and can always be with you. Need to work on that file in the hotel? No problem. At the library? At a friend's house? All good, as long as you've got that small drive tucked away in your pocket. It makes a lot of sense, and is what I've been saying for quite some time now (years, in fact): we have too much of our valuable data on one specific type of machine. Our data is restricted to that machine, and to add insult to injury, it's also prone to failure. What we've needed for quite a while was a way to take all our data so we could work on business files at home, or personal files somewhere away from home. For a while we solved this with laptops, and for many they're still a good choice for performing business tasks back home or on the road. But these devices are still pretty big to bring everywhere, and their hard drives are still subject to fail at some point as they age. True device freedom comes from using a device you can always carry with you, and will work with just about any computer, regardless of operating system: the USB drive.

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