USB memory sticks are getting cheaper and more common. The options are expanding for doing much more with them besides just acting as glamorized "floppy drive replacement" storage media.
This list of ten cool ways to use your USB drives has an added bonus...once past the price paid for the USB drive all these items are free! And if you got your USB stick as a "gimmie" prize, then the whole shebang is free!
1. Load it up with Claus's Portable SysAdmin Tools - Build your own portable System Administrator's toolbox. -via Grand Stream Dreams (Shameless plug #1)
2. Install the PortableApps Suite - This Standard grade package includes: ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Mozilla Firefox - Portable Edition (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), OpenOffice.org Portable (office suite), Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Mozilla Sunbird - Portable Edition (calendar/task manager) and Mozilla Thunderbird - Portable Edition (email client) all with a handy launcher. Lite and Base editions also available for the under 512MB crowd.
3. Build a Bootable WinPE USB Key - Really cool way to boot a system for recovery and troubleshooting...all from a USB key (assuming your motherboard supports it). -via WIndowsConnected/Josh's Windows Weblog.
4. Install Damn Small Linux to a USB Flash Drive - Probably even cooler than a WinPE USB boot key as you get a full-features operating system and a plethora of applications as well. This cool thing is a bit more advanced, but still within the realm of accomplishment. More DSL information. See also Pen Drive Linux » Boot and run Linux from a USB flash memory stick, as well as Linux bootable USB key HOWTO - OpenFacts for more USB bootable Linux builds and How To's.
5. Install a PC Repair System - Put a nice collection of useful tools and software in the space of 32 MB all in one handy-dandy zip package. -via Daily Cup of Tech.
6. Take an Introduction to USB 101 with a series of great articles from Daily Cup of Tech:
- My Philosophy of the USB Drive
- Setup and Configuration of My USB Drive
- USB Drive Applications Part 1
- USB Drive Applications Part 2
- Limitations, Challenges, and Resources
7. Make a Portable and Secure Medical Record File for your family. - via Grand Stream Dreams. (Shameless plug #2)
8. DemocraKey: Browse the web anonymously off a USB stick.
9. Use it with Vista for ReadyBoost - Increase your Windows Vista performance by using a USB key with sufficient minimum requirements. See also this ReadyBoost Q&A FAQ by Microsoft insider, Tom Archer and the father of ReadyBoost, Matt Ayers.
10. Run a virtual Windows CE session from USB. Although it is a work in progress, it is pretty clever. --via Steve Makofsky's Weblog (MSDN)
Bonus USB Fun:
Top 10 weirdest USB devices ever - fosfor gadgets
Even Wackier USB Devices - PC World