Saturday, January 05, 2008

code warrior's life of moving data on a jump drive

Of course it is just a point of view but everyday we seek an advantage to make life better, more entertaining or more interesting, etc. The ability to carry information with you to be used in a real time situation is everyone's dream. Portable computers, PDA's, cell phones and iPod type devices all make information more portable and accessible. I want to focus on the jump drive or flash drive. Trying to use a stack of floppy's or fumble with those little square flash cards found on cameras can't compare with the convenience of a jump drive. The one I have is only 128MB but you can get 32GB jump drives. Though the cost is a bit stiff compared to rotating disk drives, they're usefulness makes them indispensable. If you are like me and tend to drift away from the major software vendors' products and embrace open source and freeware and Linux, you have the option of escaping limitations of size, cost and user rights. I don't think MS Windows of any version is all that portable, I tried this with a swappable hard drive and was not impressed. Seems the registry has to gather new information about the new computer, reconfigure itself to the new settings and I don't think it works so well. Linux on the other hand seems to do what's needed to recognize the hardware at hand. And the live-CD versions of Linux especially are portable. MS Windows also has a size problem that grows with every version requiring more RAM and disk space. MS Windows has been designed with the hard drive in mind, the expectation of pre-installation, the boot sector's location at the beginning of the drive and lack of accommodating other operating systems on the same computer. Linux is use to being booted from any disk partition and both the program size and system requirements are smaller. It even accommodates other operating systems on the same computer. Putting Linux on a jump drive is the same as using the live CD, it just works. Anyway you could put the OS on the bootable jump drive and use it on any computer that can boot from a USB device. I would save my data on another jump drive or on the disk drive, isolating it from the OS. If something goes wrong with the OS, I can still get to my data by plugging in a different jump drive with a fresh OS. There are many possibilities. Sell me a jump drive with the OS and applications on it so I can just plug it in and go. Of course if the jump drive becomes a read only device, we are half screwed. Will this make the Hard drive go away, no, we could not throw away a hard drives cost effectiveness and capacity, especially for storing media files which is the going thing these days. But personally I have old small hard drives that I have never filled and the drive on my new machine is huge compared to my use. I find I do not collect as many files as computer designers thought I would. I've paid a lot for unused capacity and little flexibility. Jump drives along with live-CD Linux, gives me the ability to move "my" OS, desktop, applications and data to any machine that will work with it. Is there a caveat to this ? Sure it is the matter of security and access. But I am sure somebody will devise a scheme to mess it all up trying to fix it.

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