I shudder at the thought of losing my USB drive. As you could tell from my Zen and the Art of the USB Drive Series, my entire life is on that USB drive. “So,” I thought, “what could I do to help ensure that I get my lost USB drive back?” After some consideration, I came up with a few ideas.
Hello, My Name Is USB Drive
The very first thing that I thought of was to put a luggage tag on my drive. This seemed like a pretty good idea on the surface since pretty much every single USB drive comes with a lanyard and/or keychain attached to it. Why not put on a luggage tag in it’s place?
Unfortunately, the luggage tag was too bulky and took away from the convenience of the drive. I then put label with my name and address on the drive but there was so little space on it that it was hard to get my entire message on the drive. There had to be a better way.
Use The Tools At Your Disposal
I then got thinking that the USB drive has a lot of storage space. I could easily fit an entire novel on the drive. A “Send Me Home” message should be simple.
I figured that if I created a text file with instructions on how to return the drive on the drive root, the finder would probably be able to open it and read the instructions.
But what do you call the file? “Readme.txt”, “Help! I’m Lost!.txt”, and “Reward If Found.txt” all came to mind but there was nothing that really grabbed your eye. People often gloss over and ignore text files.
Hey! Over Here! Look at Me!
I figured I needed to do something to catch the finder’s attention. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. I fired up SciTe and came up with two files that promised to not be missed.
The first file is an AutoIt script that I later compiled into an executable. The script was relatively simple and just provided instructions for how to get the USB drive back to me along with an incentive. The script is below.
#NoTrayIcon Dim $Message1 Dim $Message2 Dim $Message3 Dim $Message4 Dim $Title $Title = "Help! I'm Lost!" $Message1 = "I've been lost and my owner would love to get my data back." $Message2 = "Please return me to:" $Message3 = "Tim Fehlman, 3077 Fallon Drive, Mount Forest, ON N0G 2L2" $Message4 = "Your will receive a shiny new USB drive twice as big as this one for your trouble." $Message5 = "Thanks for your honesty in advance. - Tim" MsgBox(266304,$Title,$Message1 & @CRLF & $Message2 & @CRLF & $Message3 & @CRLF & $Message4 & @CRLF & $Message5)
Download this code: Help!.au3
The second file was an autorun.inf file. If you have done some work with CD’s, you may be familiar with this file. It essentially tells the computer what to do when the USB drive is put into the system or if someone double clicks or right clicks on the drive icon.
I created the following autorun.inf file.
[autorun] icon=Help!.exe open=Help!.exe action=Help! I'm Lost! label=Help! I'm Lost! shell\open\command=Help!.exe shell\open=Help! I'm Lost!
Download this code: autorun.inf
The End Results
When you plug the drive in, you get an AutoPlay window which looks like this:
When you click on the OK button, you see a message like this:
You will also see this message if you double click on the drive in My Computer. The USB drive looks like this in My Computer:
If you right click on the drive, you will get a context menu that has the following at the top:
Now, there is no getting away from the “Send me home!” message.
Feel free to grab the files from this page, edit and compile them to suit your needs, and then put them into your own USB drive. With a little luck, this will help you to get your lost drive back.
I have had a number of technical questions asked about how to do this. Since it is obviously more technical than it needs to be, I have put together a small download and some instructions.
Simply download LostDrive.zip and extract the contents to the root of your USB drive. Then edit the readme.txt file to say whatever you want. Save the file and you are done!
I had a number of people indicate that it would be kind of cool if there was a graphical version of this program. It took some time but it is done. Check out USB Drive Splash Screen for all the details.
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