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USB Tools: Your key to long-term travel tech

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From the "I wish someone had told me this before we left" file. While you're on the road, your computer will crash. Someday I'll tell the epic farce that has been my interaction with ASUS tech support, but suffice it to say that I left them with a computer that booted into Windows, and they gave me back one that blue-screens. Reinstalling Windows looks to be the only solution.

I can back up the data, but reinstalling Windows will delete all of our installed programs. We don't have that many that we use regularly, given that most of our computing is in the cloud these days. But it's hard to collaborate with anyone without Microsoft Windows [1], and I keep track of finances on Quicken. [2] I won't be able to get those back. The disks are... well, somewhere in Texas or New York, who can tell?

So here's my advice, if you're taking a long term trip and leaving key software behind: copy the disks (or ISOs) to a USB key, and bring a file with the relevant software keys (those lengthy strings of numbers and letters that you need to install the program). Because over a year, your computer will die, and you'll probably need them.

[1] Yes, there are alternatives like OpenOffice. I have it, and I like it. But many collaborators don't.

[2] Though it strikes me that I could start the new year with Mint and abandon Intuit forever.

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