Windows 8 has a new feature called Windows to Go that allows an installation of Windows 8 to boot from a USB drive, or external hard drive. Potential uses are many. Corporate networks might require you to boot from a Windows to Go USB key before connecting to their network. Universities could hand out USB keys with installations tailored to specific majors. Perhaps someday you may just unplug your USB key and take it home, rather than taking an entire notebook. It could also prove useful for malware removal. However, maybe the most attractive use today, is to boot Windows 8 Consumer Preview on your current hardware, without the need to dual-boot, or upgrade an existing installation of Windows.
Windows to Go has safety and security features to prevent data theft, and exposure of the hosts OS. The system will shut down in 60 seconds if the USB drive is removed. Any drives on the host system must be mounted before they are accessible to Windows to Go.
The first time Windows to Go boots on a system it installs the drivers unique to that hardware. Subsequent boots are faster, and go straight to Windows 8. System performance on USB 2.0 or 3.0 is quite good. A great way to test Windows 8 using a ‘Live USB’, and leave your current system untouched.
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There used to be a time when our society was built and maintained by blood, sweat, and hard work. Today, however, our world runs on information and communication. With the ever growing amount of digital information that we create, modify, and share on a daily basis the need for ensuring the security of that information also increases.
One of the most common methods in today’s world for transferring our important data from one place to another is the ubiquitous USB memory key (or Thumb drive, or Memory stick, or little magic contraption of wonderfulness). With the current availability of high capacity, small form-factor USB flash memory comes a universal availability of inexpensive storage devices. Don’t believe me? Go to your local computer store (heck even Wal-Mart) and look for the USB drive section, if there is not an entire aisle in the store dedicated solely to these little titans of data migration then there is definitely a large section of one.
This universal availability comes at a cost though, more of us every day are loading Gigabytes worth of personal, corporate, or even government related information onto these, for the most part, COMPLETELY unsecured devices. There is also a growing trend, in all forms of consumer electronic devices, towards making everything as small as the laws of physics will allow. How many Über-micro cell phones have you lost? When’s the last time you set that Ipod mini down and couldn’t remember where? Now compare the size of most modern electronic devices to your USB drive, it’s virtually invisible isn’t it? So what happens when you misplace your memory key (which, incidentally, I did this morning. No idea where that thing is.) that contains all of your personal photos, hours of music, or top secret plans to take power from your boss and rule with an iron fist? Your only option, in most cases, is to hope that some Good Samaritan finds it, realizes that you’re the only geek in the place, and returns it to you. That’s a pretty scary “disaster recovery plan” if you ask me.
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