The ability to carry large amounts of data in your pocket could mean the end of the obligatory laptop haul. But as much as it can transform a daily commute without the worry of laptop theft, it can compound other problems.
This dilemma has to be weighed carefully. Should uncontrolled use be allowed within an enterprise or should guidelines be instigated? If allowed, how can the data be secured; remembering that some have a vast capacity compared to the old security threat, the floppy disk? There is also the danger of infecting the whole network if one of these devices has a virus.
If secured against unauthorized access, this technology can be a godsend. The Toshiba storage device has a 5GB capacity and is approximately 9.5cm x 5.5cm x 3mm thick (or should that be thin).
Lightweight and pocket sized, this small hard drive fits into a PC card slot and can be used to backup data or carry data between head office and branch office or home.
Completely hot-swappable, this small device, which comes in its own little pocket-sized plastic box, has no security. This makes it unsuitable for confidential data without a proprietary software application such as good solid encryption or an access control/user authentication file system. Of course, this pushes the overall cost up, but with such a capacity for data it may well be worth the added expense, as some of the secure devices are more limited in their size. So what do you get for your money? Data transfer speeds of up to 20MB per second; low power consumption, so it's ideal for use with a laptop; it is shock resistant, has a stainless steel outer shell and supports all Windows-based operating systems and Apple Macintosh. A driver is available for other OSs, according to the company.
Ease of use is high on most hit-lists. Slotting in like a PCMCIA card, this device will be recognized the first time it is used in a machine and the appropriate driver should be installed automatically, from then on it will be plug-and-play each time it is used with that computer. To remove it safely without losing data you simply move to the device icon, click on it to open a window, highlight the correct name and click stop. Once unmounted, it is then safe to remove - it really is that simple.