Can you Run Files Automatically from a Flash Drive

For many companies an investment in branded flash drives for a promotional purpose is OK in so far as it goes. The benefits of getting your logo or brand printed on a memory stick and then giving them away are, after all, well known but does it make sense to give them away without making use of the data storage capacity inherent in a memory stick?

USB Dataload

More and more companies are pre-loading data on their promotional sticks because it’s a great way to easily and cheaply distribute large amounts of sales material and media files. Lets face it if you’ve purchased memory sticks as a give-away it makes no sense to also print, transport and distribute loads of sales brochures, press releases, copies of slides etc. Load them onto the memory stick.. Pre-loading data makes economic and environmental sense and the more you load onto the stick the better the cost benefit case to purchase the memory stick will be.

USB Dataload

Pre-loading data does call for you to be organised. The cheapest way to get the data loaded onto the stick is during the manufacturing process but this means your data will need to be ready around the time your place your order with your supplier. If you can’t get your data ready in time (and sometimes you’re going to be reliant on 3rd parties, particularly if you’re pre-loading speaker notes for a conference) then don’t despair. It is possible to pre-load the data after manufacture just expect to pay a little more for it to be done.

The maximum amount of data you pre-load is limited by the amount of storage space on the memory sticks you’re buying. So if you are buying 1GB sticks you could load up to around 950MB of data. You won’t have access to the full 1GB because memory sticks need some space to create the file structures and data tables for the data you’re loading.

There are also practical considerations to consider as well including how you get the data to your supplier and you supplier gets the data to their factory in China. Small files can be emailed or FTP’d but very large files may need to be supplied on a CD or DVD and then sent by carrier to the factory. This adds to the time you need to allow for branded memory sticks to be produced

USB File Types

Something else to consider is whether any of the files you pre-load onto the sticks should run automatically when the USB stick used. This can be a great way of launching an application, presentation slides or movie files. It really will ensure that the user of the flash drive not only sees, but also is forced to interact with your content. Before you commit to the use of auto run files there are some important things to consider:

  1. Autorun files have to be loaded onto the memory sticks during the manufacturing process.
  2. Autorun files cannot be deleted by the user.
  3. Autorun files can be considered “intrusive” and “annoying” because they get in the way of the general day-to-day use of the memory stick. Remember they the autorun application will have to load and launch every time the stick is used and this can put people off using the memory stick to save and carry their own data on.
  4. If used on company network the autorun might not work because some companies don’t allow autorun files (executables) to run on PC’s attached to their network.
  5. If an autorun file is only suitable for Win PC’s (XP, VISTA, Seven etc.) then  the content may not run on a Mac – thorough testing is advised.

So in summary, branded memory sticks are a great promotional product, pre-loading data on the stick is an excellent and cost effective idea and in some circumstance autoruns add value but use them sparingly and be aware of the potential issues

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