What is U3?
U3 is the secure USB Flash drive software that comes with certain USB drives intended to allow applications to be installed on and launched from the portable device.
Also available to be downloaded from several online sources, U3 software can be installed onto a USB Flash drive and used in the same way as a purchased U3 drive might be – the only difference is by downloading the utility you don’t need to invest in new USB Flash drives. Better still, if you do opt to purchase some USB Flash drives to install U3 onto, you get to configure them yourself rather than stick to the factory settings.
Benefits of Portable Applications
Being able to launch certain applications from a USB device is extremely useful – for instance, you might travel a lot and not have a laptop to use, but by storing applications (and related documents) on a USB device you could visit a cyber café or library and take advantage of the portable applications on your USB Flash stick just by plugging it in. Alternatively you might work in an office with limited desk space, resulting in regular “hot-desking” whereby you’re rarely at the same workstation twice. As such having your regularly used applications ready to launch might save a lot of time.
U3 allows the applications to write files and registry information to the host computer, but this information must be removed when the drive is ejected.
A variety of software can be used with U3, from FTP applications like FileZilla to Skype.
Downloading U3 Software
What you will notice about U3 is that every available application is free or open source – making something like Microsoft Word available would require interfering with the code and be in breach of the application’s licence. However, given the existence of Microsoft Office Web Apps it seems unlikely that a portable version of Word would be necessary.
There are various places you can download U3 software from.
To begin, if your USB Flash device isn’t already U3 compatible you can download the software from u3.sandisk.com [https://u3.sandisk.com/]. This can be installed to your USB Flash device (or any suitable removable device) to then allow you to install portable applications.
Portable applications for use with U3 can be downloaded from the following sites:
In addition to U3, there is another similar tool called Portable Apps (available from www.portableapps.com) which provides the same functionality with a larger selection of portable applications.
Uses for U3 and Portable Applications
As well as the previously mentioned use of taking a USB Flash drive with you on a business trip rather than a notebook, U3 and Portable Applications can be used to build a set of tools for specific purposes. For instance you might take advantage of the system to select a set of disk management utilities for a team of IT technicians to have with them at all times, or you might simply choose a minimal set of web browser, text editor and FTP client if you want to engage in some web development.
Portable applications launched from USB device are becoming more and more popular; while it can be difficult to remove U3 software from your Flash memory device, it offers an alternative to searching for and installing applications every time you find yourself on a new computer.
Source: author experience
USB device: author