Surprising Uses for USB Drives


USB drives are amazing little devices.

From doubling as a hard drive, to being a digital emergency kit, to being a more comprehensive portfolio, custom flash drives are driving modern life. Business to personal to everything in between. In the summer that I’ve been covering them, I’ve come across so many stories involving flash drives. I always save them, mentally if not digitally. So now I present to you the first installment of Awesome Tales of Things Stored on USB Drives! (That’s a working title, folks.)

Choose Your Destiny

If you haven’t heard of Destiny, you must not be a gamer. It’s only the monster online game developed by Halo-creator Bungie. Though it’s not billed as one, Destiny is essentially an MMO (a massively multiplayer online) game–which means the universe the game is set in is always growing, expanding. This element of expansion tends to be a bit overwhelming for consoles, especially for the lower memories of the previous generation. In order to combat this and keep last gen gamers playing, the game’s publisher, Activision, is offering them 32GB flash drive that will be able to handle the next big expansion of the game. Thankfully, USB drives have become an economically-perfect giveaway otherwise Activision may not have been so generous. Could this be a future for all game expansions?

An Epic Science Burn

Recently, CNN reported that science-denier Ben Carson was served a digital Told-Ya-So from California Governor Jerry Brown. Carson made some bold claims about climate change, so Brown packed a USB drive with scholarly articles and reports and politely sent it to Carson along with a letter. How’s that for a satisfying rebuttal? Being able to fit everything you want to say, along with the supporting evidence, on a compact flash drive. Now that’s a comeback.

The Entire Internet

Earlier this summer, Popular Mechanics reported that the internet in Cuba is presented in a very different way. Instead of just appearing on your screen at home or in local coffee shops, several Cubans get there internet via hand-delivered USB drives. Due to very slow–and very few–internet connections, El Packete–a mail-order customized flash drive data dump of the Web–has become popular in its place. Admittedly, even Popular Mechanics isn’t sure about the logistics, but it’s definitely innovative.

You have to admit, these are pretty cool (and surprising) uses for USB drives. Even I was blown away by their potential. Will we see more uses for USB storage in the future? No doubt. But I think the even bigger question is: will we see “Epic Science Burn” flash drive packaging?