USB thumb drives are really cheap--so cheap, in fact, that many of us have quite a few of these sticks lying around unused, because they don't have much capacity. (Ask anyone who's ever been to a tech convention or similar convention how many useless thumb drives they've collected and you'll likely hear a hearty laugh.) But what if you could turn all those thumb drives into one big, fast storage drive?
You can. All you really need is a USB hub ($16 for the one seen below); plug your USB drives into it, connect the hub to your computer, and you're in business. You can use Mac's built-in Disk Utility to chain the drives together in a RAID configuration into one larger drive; Windows 8 also offers this feature. So four cheap, unused 128 GB USB thumb drives turn into one 512 GB, fast drive.
Fstoppers has the instructions for Mac OS X...and the caveats. As with other striped configurations like this, if one drive fails, the whole thing does. It's not as fast as a dedicated SSD, and the speeds aren't that reliable. However, for a live-work drive or as a second or third type of backup, this setup makes use of the spare drives that are currently being wasted. Just don't expect to store your critical files on there if you don't have a backup elsewhere.
Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.