I love the cloud. Services like Dropbox and iCloud mean I rarely have to carry around physical media. But what about those times when the cloud just doesn't work? Sometimes you can't beat good 'ole reliable sneaker-net.
Just last week I was working remotely at a client's office finishing some last minute details on a contract. I had the document on my Mac but had to get it to my client's PC to print it so everyone could sign the deal. No problem, I planned to just hop on their Wi-Fi network and email the file to someone in the office to print but for whatever reason email just would not send. Plan B, I have my own network connection in my pocket thanks to a personal hotspot connection on my iPhone. I thought that would be foolproof but while my iPhone and my Mac happily paired together the email still would not send. I later found out there was a localized network outage that was impacting my cell provider and my client's ISP in that area.
My MacBook Air didn't have a disc drive so burning a CD was out and no one had a flash drive handy. This was ridiculous. After about 45 minutes of frustration and delay the network finally came back up and the document sent. After that embarrassing episode I realized I didn't ever want to be in a position where I absolutely had to rely on the cloud. As soon as I got back to my office I started searching for small USB flash drives I could attach to my keychain and never be without my trusty sneaker-net backup.
Storage space wasn't very important, this was mainly for transport of documents so 8 GB or better would be plenty. The drive had to fit on my keychain so I'd be assured I'd never leave the office without it. Because I don't like a lot of extra bulk on my keychain it had to be small. Lastly, it had to be durable. My keys take quite a beating, they're regularly dropped, tossed on the floor of the icky gym, mangled the bottom of a briefcase with pens and paperclips, or otherwise tossed around. This flash drive had to work when I needed it so it had to be able to stand up to the rigors of everyday life.
After doing my own research and putting out the call on Twitter I was directed to the Verbatim Tuff 'n' Tiny USB Flash Drive Merlin recommended this drive on episode 105 of Back to Work so I figured if Merlin hasn't destroyed his yet, life with me would be a cakewalk. I picked up a black 16 GB drive for $14.03 and had it within 2 days (gotta love Amazon Prime).
I was stunned when the drive arrived because I didn't expect it to be so small. Along with the included lanyard it add minimal bulk to my keychain. What makes me nervous is the drive is truly a bare piece of metal with contacts exposed. It's a tradeoff because that's what makes this drive so tiny. Verbatim claims it's water, dust, dirt and static discharge resistant. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty and the Amazon Reviews are generally positive. At $14 it's not something I mind buying every couple of years, but I do want it to work when I need it.
First impressions are very positive, this drive is everything I wanted. As with any drive you carry around on your keychain or leave in public places, security will be an issue so plan accordingly. Any sensitive files on this drive should be encrypted. The big question is durability and longevity. Six months from now after banging around town on my keychain will it work when I need it? Time will tell and I'll report back and let you know.