Make your USB drive a portable briefcase

Store and carry your most important files

Michael Gray on November 9, 2010

Lexar storage drive

When we started in business, we carried one of those old, hard briefcases. It was built solid and tough so that if we banged it into a car, walls, or other employees, the fragile and important documentation inside wouldn't get roughed up. Briefcases were like corporate badges of the office and we carried them with great pride.

Now that we're all using computers, though, the briefcase days are very far behind us. Important documents can be carried on a USB flash drive, carefully tucked away while we go from work location to work location. It would be even better to keep our documents stored online but that's not always possible if a job site doesn't permit internet access. Everything must be carried on the USB flash drive to be sure it's always available. These flash drives are sometimes call dongles, thumb drives, quick drives, or any number of other things. But they all boil down to the same thing: small, ultra-portable storage that plugs in to a computer's USB port.

memory Dangle your dongle
Government employees and folks who work for big companies are probably already comfortable with keeping a picture ID on a lanyard around their neck. The lanyard ensures that you won't easily lose your identification and helps keep it with you at all times. Do the same thing with your USB flash drive, which needs to have the same ever-present characteristics as your IDs. Even if you don't dangle your dongle around your neck, the extra mass will help keep you mindful of the things stored on it.

For business only
Your briefcase-style thumb drive isn't the place to keep embarrassing family photos of yourself in a horrible outfit. You could quickly find yourself handing over the USB drive to someone else for business reasons, giving them a clear view of that picture. It's best to keep your personal stuff private. Additionally, you want your USB briefcase to have as much space for work files as possible.

Keep it clean
USB drives come with an amazing amount of storage and it seems as if they're always getting bigger. You'll need to keep your folder structure clean and intuitive if you want to use the USB drive all the time. As a rule of thumb, try and keep only two levels of folders inside your briefcase — that is to say, your folders can have folders in them, but those second folders should not contain any additional folders.

memoryOut with the old
When the documents on your USB briefcase are no longer relevant, they should be relegated to their final storage. If that's deletion, that's okay. Don't let your USB briefcase turn into long-term storage or you might find yourself with heartache when it finally dies. USB flash drives are resilient and long-lasting, but anything you haul around every day is going to have a shorter shelf life.

Keep a backup
As we just discussed, anything you keep with you at all times is an at-risk object. You could drop it, step on it, a dog could eat it, or it could just get fried by malfunction. Anything on your USB briefcase should be a copy of a file, not the only document. If it's the only place you're storing your finances, you'll regret that if you drop it down the sewer.


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