I’ve worked in tech support for nearly a decade and I’ve collect a number of USB keys. They range in size from a hearty 32GB to a miniscule 128MB. They’re all useful and all have their place.

The challenge becomes how to tell them apart at a glance and know what they work in.

I’ve come up with two methods to ease the madness.

First, label the physical devices. Use a sharpie for a permanent name or size. If you tend to reuse them, put a piece of scotch tape on it and use that as a label.

The USB Keys from top down are:
GParted on 512MB drive.
Windows XP installer on 2GB drive.
Windows Easy Transfer on 128MB drive.
YUMI created collection of bootable software on 2GB drive.
Windows 7 install on 4GB drive.

Second, I name each drive with the amount of storage and what platform is works on.

Some drives, I have formatted for the Mac only since that’s all I use them on. Some I have formatted as FAT32 which works in everything. While others I’ve experimented with ExFAT which allows for cross compatibility (Mac to Windows) and larger than 4GB file sizes (like NTFS) but isn’t natively supported in Windows XP.

These are the little tricks I use to keep my collection of USB keys a little more sanely. I hope it helps you too if you have the same problem. If there is interest in the geeky IT setup I’ve crafted for myself over the years I’ll share more of it. Even if there isn’t I may do so anyway.

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