Ash Nallawalla's blog

U3 Smart

by Ash NallawallaU3 Smart

U3 is an initiative of SanDisk and msystems. They transformed USB flash drives from simple storage devices into USB smart drives that people can use not only to carry data, but include password protection, anti-virus software and the ability to launch popular Windows applications on any PC wherever they went.

U3 Smart drives solve a common problem – when you use a new computer or borrow one, it does not have your familiar programs, files and browser bookmarks and preferences. U3 drives contain special versions of popular programs and make it feasible to use other computers without being tied to yours.

How It Works

When you insert a U3 enabled drive into a USB port, a U3 icon appears in the System Tray. You can click it to launch the U3 Launchpad, which is similar to the Windows XP Start button. This designates the USB drive as a U3 Smart Drive.

U3 Smart drives are available from several manufacturers, including:

  • SanDisk
  • Kingston
  • Memorex
  • Verbatim

You can run the supplied programs, or download more from http://software.u3.com. Many areYahoo's giveaway Flash drive has this laucnpad free, some are not.

Some of the more interesting free U3 programs include:

  • Open Office application
  • Mozilla Firefox browser
  • Avast! Antivirus
  • Sudoku game
  • Opera browser
  • Mozilla Thunderbird email
  • Skype Internet phone
  • Trillian instant message manager

You get to use your own desktop wallpaper and familiar icons when using a borrowed PC. You are not hampered by the lack of administrator privileges on that PC because your portable applications are already on your U3 drive. This is great for backpackers and other travellers who don’t need to take a laptop PC with them.

There is a strong U3 developer community, which is releasing new, compact versions of popular desktop software. For more information, see http://www.u3.com.

You cannot install regular PC programs such as Microsoft Office on a U3 device because desktop programs require much more space than the U3 drive can offer and they need to write some information to the PC’s Registry. Here is an informative video:

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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3 Comments

  • […] MB Flash drives to capacity, so why would someone need an 8 GB drive? The answer is partly U3 (see earlier post) and partly our desire to make our data portable. It is certified for Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, […]

  • George Buie on 27 November 2007

    I have the U3 SanDisk Cruzer 4 GB. I can’t get it to download because I have lost the launch pad. Can I reinstall it from your web site? Thanks, George

  • Ash on 27 November 2007

    George, There is an excellent post here: Reinstall or Restore U3 LaunchPad Software into USB Flash Smart Drive which is better than anything I can say.

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