Not long ago, USB flash drives were an essential accessory for students, on-the-go professionals and anyone else with computer file storage needs. The memory cards inside these handy little devices could store up to several hundred gigabytes of documents, spreadsheets, multimedia and other important materials -- but in terms of physical size, the drives were often small enough to fit on a keychain.
Now, with the arrival of Google Drive and other cloud platforms that automatically save every single keystroke you record, you may be tempted to relegate that dusty old thumb drive to the dark corner of your work desk, along with your CD wallet, Blockbuster Video membership card and other relics of the early 2000's.
But not so fast -- your USB drive isn't nearly as useless or outdated as you might think.
For starters, a flash drive can be used to run an open-source portable app on your friend's computer without permanently downloading any software on their machine. The USB will also store certain operating systems -- such as Windows and Linux -- that can be used to reboot another computer if it is besieged by viruses or spyware.
But forget about your friend's computer for a moment -- a USB drive can benefit yours, as well. By downloading the Predator security app, your thumb drive essentially becomes a clearance card; no one will be able to access the files on your machine unless the USB is plugged into the port. Computer performance improvement programs like ReadyBoost and downloadable testing applications like Server2Go are also accessible through your... well, you can probably guess where we're going with this.
See... aren't you glad you've held onto that thumb drive all these years?
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more informationTrack ballot status
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place