Get the new Platform 12.0.3. Better, stronger, faster, and prettier. Download Now or Buy on a Flash Drive
Instant access to over 300 free and legal portable apps (over 9GB) including the new Solfege (Aug 30, 2014) needs your help: Please consider making a donation today

U3 v PortableApps

Throg - December 10, 2006 - 7:44am
Share on Facebook

Apologies if this is covered elsewhere but I've had a quick scan around and couldn't find anything.

I've been using U3 for quite a while now and although I like the functionality, some things about it bug me - specifically how locked-down and proprietry the software is and how closely it's tied to the hardware. The latter is a particular concern because the U3 installation on my second memory stick, a Disgo, failed after a couple of weeks' usage, which as I understand it is a common problem.

I am therefore seriously considering switching to using PortableApps instead, especially as the main U3 apps I use (FF, TB and OO) are all supplied by PortableApps anyway.

I have a spare (working) U3 USB key so I'm willing to experiment, but I was wondering if anyone else had considered this kind of transition and what options I have? So far I've thought of either installing PortableApps on the U3 key as it is, or wiping the U3 key of all traces of U3 and installing PortableApps instead. Obviously the latter option is probably more workable but it's also, as far as I'm aware, a one-way ticket.

Are there any other options and does anyone have any recommendations please?

( categories: )

It isn't one way if you

It isn't one way if you uninstall the U3 part. I have uninstalled, and the alternatives are much better. U3 is a bit pointless really!


But how does one go about uninstalling U3. I tried reformating my u3 drive and upon insertion it's back

your friendly neighbourhood moderator Zach Thibeau

First thing I did was uninstall, with mine... well, after having established that the "new apps" U3 browser bluescreened under Win2K...


thanks very much

your friendly neighbourhood moderator Zach Thibeau

Portableapps > U3

i recently formatted the U3 drive with the U3 uninstall tool, put portableapps suite on it and i'm very happy with it!
Most important changes for me were:
- can be used on restricted PC's (for example limited guest accounts -> pc's at the university)
- oh so easy application adding/removing: just d/l portable version and put it in the portableapps map (vs U3 install crap)
- When u plug your USB in, you can choose (!) wether or not you want to run the menu
- 1 'removeable drive' instead of 2 ...
- better menu interface (i had the sandisk u3 one) imo
- pfft i can go on and on Smiling

The only thing i 'missed' was password protection upon plugin... But since this renders the stick completely useless on restricted pc's, i can live without it. Besides i 've now discovered the benefits of KeePass and well... just use some common sense Eye-wink

byebye u3

U3 unpatchable?

Well, this is getting into 'unsupported' territory - but at least Papp had a patch=), even if the apps go odd at times (geez, *real support*, what a concept!)- I, too tried a 'reformat' of the (to WinME, anyhow) demi-worthless U3 that was plonked on an otherwise nice thumbdrive (now do I have to eject /both/ of `em & what happens if I don't?)..

The link was just a trifle less useful than the 'launcher' since you need XP or whatever M$ is pushing this year to even *run* or even dl(?) the uninstaller - silly `site gave me a loop & then started throwing ad-img's, etc /sigh/..

Thanx, Mr. Hall & all the other hardworking devs for making Papp fly as well as it does .. Gee, what part of multi-OS does U3;/** not understand? 2 flavors of Win is *not* truly portable..


It's Portable Apps, or PA, not Papp Laughing out loud
Ryan McCue
Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it.
(Tom Lehrer)

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."


Another difference is the way U3 handles autoplay option.

PA doesn't autoplay on Windows 2000 - as a guest user. U3 can.

Fake CD Partition

It uses a fake CD partition to do it, which is good and bad. The good is that it will autorun on any compter that has CD autorun enabled (which should actually be disabled for security reasons). The bad is that it is incompatible with most CD writing software and will actually lock up computers with Nero's InCD and other software running.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

U3 vs. Portable Apps..

I appreciate any help here folks. I'm 3 months new to U3 and Portable Apps. Can someone explain to me in layman terms, which I am, the difference between U3 and portable apps ? I thought you had to have U3 to use a portable app. I thought U3 was how-why a portable app ran and did not leave residue on the host computer. My (OfficeDepot) Ativa 2G U3 Flashdrive came with Firefox and ACDSee (and others), and I added Trillian...these are the 3 apps I use most. Otherwise it's just a Flash to store my excel and word files. Can I use these same apps on a regular Flashdrive or EVEN BETTER ! perhaps a LARGER 80G portable Harddrive, without whatever U3 is ?
The ability to plug in and work with these apps on any host computer and leave no trace behind is beneficial to me. I may never understand all the tech stuff, but I do want to know how best to use this technology. I want to be a good driver, but not a mechanic. youknowwhatImeanIthinkyoudo. Sincerely, Thank you for educating me. Larry

Apps without U3

You've always been able to run portable apps without using U3. Portable Firefox (its old name) debuted back in March of 2004 and I've been maintaining it since then.

All of the apps here have the intelligence to be portable built in, so you can run them from anywhere you'd like. You can run them from your desktop, from a USB flash drive (any drive), from an iPod, from a portable hard drive, whatever you'd like. And, since the apps are all self-contained in a single folder (along with all of their data), you can easily move apps or your whole Suite from one drive to another.

It's important to know that NONE of the portable technologies leave "no trace" on the PC you run on. They all leave traces in the Prefetch on Windows XP (C:\Windows\Prefetch). U3 leaves a couple executables behind in C:\Application Data\[user]\Application Data\U3. Ceedo leaves some traces behind in a similar location. The PortableApps Suite actually leaves the least behind.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

U3 vs. Portable Apps..

what value is the U3 then ? What function does it provide ? The apps on my U3 Flash end as .u3 files and nothing will open them except my U3 Flash/Launcher. If it's possible I want to use a 60-80G portable hard drive, carry my Trillian,Firefox, and ACDSee with me...plug it in, open my app, and work. Can it really be that simple ?


was designed to simplify things for the users. A lot of U3 apps aren't really portable, but the way U3 works, when the program is closed, U3 can clean the crud up.
PortableApps are designed to be open-source launchers which you can run which do basically the same thing. The difference is that U3 is proprietary while PortableApps are open-source.
Ryan McCue
Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it.
(Tom Lehrer)

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."

Booting from the stick / access through a starting menu

I understand that I can boot from a USB stick with U3. Can I do so with Portable Apps, too?

U3 provides a standard starting menu for various applications. So I need not worry about how to get them started, but how do I access each of the portable applications? Is there a common file manager? Do I have to go through all the files to identify the right executable starting file?

Not quite

You can't boot off U3. U3 is quite similar to the PortableApps Menu. The way to install apps in PortableApps Format is standardized (see: Adding Apps to the PortableApps Menu). You can also install other apps (like single EXEs and apps that happen to be portable but aren't repackaged by their publisher) as well.

There is no file manager for either platform.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

U3 versus Portable Apps

I found U3 by accident. I bought a thumb drive on sale, and when I plugged it in, the U3 interface came up. I eventually discovered Portable Apps, and I got a $17 1 gig USB drive to play with it. There also is something proprietary called and As far as I can tell, some of teh same applications have been set up to run on both the U3 and Portable Apps environments. The real difference merely is it preference. U3 has more control in terms of setting up programs which will run automatically when you stick it in (I have Avast antivirus run automatically). While Portable Apps can run on an external hard drive. For example, I have a spare 60 gig hard drive. I loaded Porta Apps on that. If your kid goes off to college, you can give them a $200 hard drive with PortaApps and all they need is to find a computer with a USB port to run everything. As far as I can tell, the only real difference between U3 and PortableApps is personal preference.

you can replace the u3

you can replace the u3 launchpad .
Just get the "launchpad updater" for your brand ,
make your own ISO and "update"..
Liberta AutoStart runs like a charm from the
u3 CD-rom and the "eject" works !
If you want encryption you can put "TrueCrypt"
on the CD .
That way you can encrypt the entire device.