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(* = Graphable)



Type Private
Founded 2004
Headquarters Redwood City, CA
Industry Computer
Slogan Your digital universe in your pocket.
Website www.u3.com

U3 LLC is a joint venture that is backed by Sandisk and its subsidiary, M-Systems. U3 is responsible for the development of a proprietary application design specification created for Microsoft Windows operating systems so that applications can be executed directly from a specially formatted USB flash drive (i.e., it can be run without first being installed on the computer). Applications are allowed to write files or registry information to the host computer, but this information must be removed when the flash drive is ejected. Customizations and settings are instead stored with the application on the flash drive which allows one to run software on any computer with the same settings. USB flash drives adhering to the U3 specification are termed "U3 smart drives" by U3.com. "U3 smart drives" differ from traditional USB flash drives because they come preinstalled with the U3 Launchpad, which emulates the Windows OS start menu, and controls program installation. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... Shortcut: WP:WIN Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and, as a means to that end, also an online community. ... Shortcut: WP:CSD Current list: Category:Candidates for speedy deletion There are a few, limited, cases where admins can delete Wikipedia pages on sight. Non-admins can ask for an admin to delete such a page, either by listing it on speedy deletions, or by adding either a {{delete}} or... Image File history File links U3logo. ... A private company is a company that is independently owned. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Redwood City is the county seat of San Mateo County, California. ... Computer industry is a collective term used to describe the whole range of businesses involved in developing computer software, designing computer hardware and computer networking infrastructures, the manufacture of computer components and the provision of information technology services. ... Look up slogan in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A website (alternatively, Web site or web site) is a collection of Web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that is hosted on one or several Web server(s), usually accessible via the Internet, cell phone or a LAN. A Web page is a document, typically written in HTML... This article is about a U.S.-specific corporate form; for a general discussion of entities with limited liability, see corporation. ... SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK), formerly SunDisk, is an American multinational corporation which designs and markets flash memory card products. ... M-Systems was a Nasdaq-listed Israeli producer of flash storage memory founded in 1989, best known for its DiskOnChip 2000 line of products for embedded computers. ... It has been suggested that closed source be merged into this article or section. ... “Windows” redirects here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... “JumpDrive” redirects here. ... This article is about computer files and file systems in general terms. ... The Windows registry is a directory which stores settings and options for the operating system for Microsoft Windows 32-bit versions, 64-bit versions and Windows Mobile. ...


The U3 platform


U3 smart drives are USB flash drives with a specific hardware and software setup:

  • The hardware configuration causes Windows disk management to show two drives:
    1. An emulated CD drive - a read-only ISO 9660 partition with the autorun and LaunchPad, and
    2. A standard FAT partition that includes a hidden "SYSTEM" folder with your installed applications.
  • U3 compliant applications may be (optionally) preloaded

ISO 9660, a standard published by the International Organization for Standardization, defines a file system for CD-ROM media. ... For other uses, see FAT. Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and largely insoluble in water. ...

U3 Launchpad

U3 Launch Pad example.
U3 Launch Pad example.

The U3 Launchpad is a program manager that is preinstalled on every U3 smart drive, and is set to autoplay on insertion. [1] A partition with the U3 Launchpad pretends to be a CD/DVD-ROM device in order to add USB mass storage device autoplay functionality on pre-Windows XP SP2 systems, or systems whose USB autoplay has been intentionally disabled. Image File history File links U3launch. ... Image File history File links U3launch. ... USB Mass Storage Devices are devices that use generic USB standards to grant access to a filesystem stored therin, usually in FAT32 format. ... Windows XP is a line of operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on general-purpose computer systems, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. ...

The program is made to work with Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 and above. No Launchpad program exists for the Mac OS or Linux platforms.[2] This article relates to both the original Classic Mac OS as well as Mac OS X, Apples more recent operating system. ... This article is about operating systems that use the Linux kernel. ...

U3 applications

To be fully U3 compliant, an application has to be programmed to clean up its own data from the local machine. It must also be packaged in U3's special program format. U3 applications will only run from a U3 device.


The U3 APIs allows U3 Programs lower-level access to USB flash drive. API and Api redirect here. ...


The U3 Launchpad and U3 Applications runs on Windows 2000 SP4+, XP or newer. U3 will work with Windows Vista as of version 1.4 or higher of the U3 Launchpad. Data will continue to be accessible from any OS capable of reading from USB Mass Storage Devices, unless the U3 device is password-protected.[3] Compatibility issues have been noted as late as July 2007 under Windows XP Pro between certain Windows drivers that are associated with high-volume data transfers to CD writers and with certain drivers employed by digital video cameras, resulting in a full crash of the XP operating system. Windows 2000 (also referred to as Win2K) is a preemptive, interruptible, graphical and business-oriented operating system designed to work with either uniprocessor or symmetric multi-processor computers. ... A Service Pack (more commonly, SP) is a software program that corrects known bugs, problems, or adds new features. ... Windows XP is a line of operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on general-purpose computer systems, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. ...

Developer resources

Information on building U3 compliant applications and the U3 software development kit, are available to registered developers at the official U3 website. Individuals must register (as a company) to download the SDK, or participate in the forums. [4] A software development kit (SDK or devkit) is typically a set of development tools that allows a software engineer to create applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar. ...


Software can be taken with all its personalized settings to any computer running a compatible version of Microsoft Windows, with no need to install the software if not already there, or to use different settings and options, and no need for administrator access privileges.
Software support
Software is available from the U3 site, including amongst others Trillian (instant messaging client), OpenOffice.org, FileZilla, Mozilla Firefox, and Skype. Some recent software compatibility concerns have surfaced, including incompatibility of newer Firefox versions with U3. However, updated versions of programs have made an appearance, like in the case of Mozilla Firefox.
Ease of use
Programs are run from the Launchpad, functionally similar to the Windows Start menu familiar to most users of Windows XP.
No need of admin rights
New software can be downloaded to a U3 flash drive without the requirement for administrative privileges on the host computer.
Virus protection
Many U3 drives come with virus protection software which gives protection against being infected by or spreading computer viruses.
3rd party support
Some popular free portable application programs available at PortableApps.com for non-U3 flash drives have been adapted for use with U3 drives. They are available at the web sites of U3 and PortableApps.com.

Trillian is a multiprotocol instant messaging application for Windows created by Cerulean Studios that can connect to multiple IM services, such as AIM, ICQ, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Bonjour, Jabber, and Skype networks (the latter four with Trillian Pro which allows for additional plugins). ... OpenOffice. ... FileZilla is a free, open source FTP client for Windows. ... Firefox redirects here. ... Skype (IPA pronunciation: , rhymes with type) is a software program created by the entrepreneurs Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. ... A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. ... A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. ...


Several criticisms have been made of the U3 platform. These criticisms are: Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ...

Freezing the Computer
Strong possibility of locking up or freezing a computer with certain software installed. In general it is a result of a conflict with popular CD/DVD burning software according to a FAQ by U3. [5] The posted list includes software provided by Nero and Roxio. Even on computers where U3 functions properly, there can be a noticeable delay while the Launchpad loads compared to the time it takes to access a normal USB flash drive.
Closed Platform
The U3 platform is closed, though is available to anyone who registers (for free) with U3. Sandisk, the rights holders for U3, ask for a 5% royalty from USB flash drive manufacturers who wish to implement the platform on their products.
Uninstallation issues
The original U3 Launchpad could not be uninstalled by an end-user. U3 responded to this criticism by making uninstall software available on their website[6]. This was largely due to Best Buy's Geek Squad, who in early 2006 raised the issue of not being able to uninstall U3 and got them to first write an uninstaller for the Geek Squad branded drives, and later for all the U3 drives; as of November 2006, U3 drives come with an uninstaller on the USB drive itself. However, the uninstaller doesn't work in all cases[citation needed]; and requires installing proprietary software on the computer before being able to remove the U3 features from the flash drive[citation needed]. Although U3 removal disables U3 functionality[7], SanDisk does offer LPInstaller to reinstall the basic U3 feature-set.[8]
Leaves Traces on Host PC
The U3 platform sometimes leaves behind files on a user's PC. This mainly occurs when the drive is improperly removed.
Data Security
Most U3 drives on the market feature a security lock within the U3 Launchpad. This loads the CD partition first and can be user-configured to require a password to be entered; otherwise the data partition will not load. The drive is supposed to seal itself after a certain number of invalid password entries, requiring a reformat.[9]
Insufficient user privileges
Where a user has insufficient privileges, he or she may run into problems getting the launcher to work [citation needed]. In such a case the launcher might actually prove a hindrance to using the device [citation needed].
Two Drive Letters
As a work-around to the lack of Auto-Play for Flash drives on older versions of Windows, the U3 software creates two drive letters (one which presents itself as a CD to allow Windows' auto-play to start the launcher, and another for storing user data). Although this is the only way to implement auto-start functionality on pre-Windows XP systems, it could be considered a kludge, and the extra drive letter created can be an annoyance.
Windows requirement for removal
Users of non-Microsoft OSes that don't have access to a Windows PC are unable to remove U3 from their "smart drives." The uninstall page for u3.com has a survey regarding the source of the desire to remove U3 functionality. Available responses includes "Mac OS or Linux user" (since the U3 Launchpad does not run on these operating systems). When this option is chosen, however, the removal tool which is offered for download is not, as would seem sensible based upon the user's answer to the question, a Mac OS or Linux program. It's for Windows only. A removal tool would not be possible however, as any such tool would require the OS being able to detect the U3 disc partition, which doesn't appear in Mac OS or Linux.

SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK), formerly SunDisk, is an American multinational corporation which designs and markets flash memory card products. ... For the defunct chain of catalog showrooms, see Best Products. ... Geek Squad logo The Geek Squad is a subsidiary of the Best Buy Company and is based in Richfield, Minnesota [1]. Originally founded in 1994 by Robert Stephens, it offers various computer-related services and accessories for residential and commercial clients. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The Launchpad software on a U3 device can be replaced using 3rd party tools, allowing it to Autoplay any software that is able to fit onto the device. This involves creating an ISO image [10] and then transferring the ISO image onto the device, replacing the existing Launchpad files. Universal Customizer is an example of such a tool.[11]


Sandisk and Microsoft have recently announced a partnership to develop a new line of portable USB-based hardware[12]. This series, currently unnamed, is expected to replace U3 by the end of 2008, making the U3 format obsolete[13].

See also

USB redirects here. ... “JumpDrive” redirects here. ... A USB drive Portable software is a class of software that is suitable for use on portable drives such as a USB (thumb) drive or iPod or Palm PDA with drive mode, although any external hard drive could theoretically be used. ... MojoPac is a software virtualization product from RingCube Technologies. ... PortableApps. ... PHILM is a new media designed and marketed by T’emogique, Inc. ... The subject of this article may not satisfy the notability guideline or one of the following guidelines for inclusion on Wikipedia: Biographies, Books, Companies, Fiction, Music, Neologisms, Numbers, Web content, or several proposals for new guidelines. ...

Notes and references

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3] "If the OS in question can normally see ordinary USB flash drives, then the U3 smart drive removable mass storage area (domain) should still be available for standard file system activities unless it is a private area protected by a password."
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ [6]
  7. ^ U3 USB removal
  8. ^ [7]
  9. ^ [8]
  10. ^ [9]
  11. ^ [10]
  12. ^ [11]
  13. ^ [12]

External links


Image File history File links Broom_icon. ...

Reviews and overviews

Developer resources

  • U3 SDK (requires registration; individuals can register as companies)


  • U3 Community (news, articles, forums, etc.)
  • Universal U3 LaunchPad Hacker (Replace the Launchpad with software of your choice.)

  Results from FactBites:
U3 Newbie Guide (1914 words)
Accessed from a U3 icon in the system tray, it provides quick access to applications and documents installed on the U3 smart drive, as well as mean to manage them.
Once a U3 application is installed on the drive, you can specify the order in which it appears in the LaunchPad, and tell it to start every time the drive is plugged into a computer.
The U3 files are stored on the device in a compressed format, and when the U3 application is used, it decompresses files into a directory on the host PC and then runs.
U3 Platform Pulls Ahead In Race To Rule Smart USB Flash Drive Market - Hardware News by InformationWeek (518 words)
U3 LLC has scored a minor coup in the race to develop the next-generation storage media, announcing Monday (March 21) it would migrate its hardware and software platform to Kingston Technology, Memorex, and Verbatim, as it seeks to promote the Smart USB Flash drive platform as an industry standard.
The U3 platform may have pulled a step ahead of a competing standard, Drive Alliance, to gain control of the Smart USB Flash drive market.
U3 was created as a joint venture by SanDisk Corp. and M-Systems, both of Sunnyvale, Calif., in January to create a hardware and software platform that would a USB drive to store not only data, but also a user's PC settings and be able to launch applications from any PC desktop.
  More results at FactBites »



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