Portable Data – PAS, U3, etc.

I’ve written a bit in the past about the fundimental problems of data portability. We all have data, email, files, etc. that we want to have with us when we travel. However, how do you take them with and leave the computer at home?

There are online solutions, USB flash drive solutions and of course PDA solutions. It looks like the USB flash drive solutions have just gotten much more sophisticated.

First, John Haller has created PortableApps.com, which has full office suite of free software that runs nicely from a flash drive. I’ve been using this for a week, and it’s very nice to have all your settings and whatnot stay in the same place. However, it’s a strictly open-source affair, and if you don’t care for Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, etc. you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Second, the folks at Sandisk and M-Systems have invented U3, a trick where the U3-compatible flash drive tricks the host computer into thinking it’s a CD rom drive, thereby allowing applications to run completely off the flash drive. The advantage with U3 is that it’s likely to attract more software vendors.

Then there’s Migo, which puts your MS Explorer and Outlook setting on a drive, so that when you use someone else’s computer your settings are used.

Each offers potential advantages and disadvantages, but it’s clear that vendors are catching on to the data portability problem. How long will it be before computers are just appliances, and the data and software are the personal part, carried in portable memory?

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