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Am I Missing Something?

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Maineman
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Am I Missing Something?

I have been using a few Portable Apps for quite some time now on a non-U3 512MB PNY memory stick. I travel with this and use it, generally, on Administrator restricted computers. Mostly I use Portable Firefox, and Portable VLC Media Player. I have read a lot about U3 and heard a lot about it on many radio shows bu I cannot figure out for the life of me what it is all about and what it offers that I do not have now withe the Portable Apps I now use, or plan to install in the future.

I am reasonably computer literate, though certainly not an expert. Perhaps I am more of an idiot than I though, but can someone please post a bit more info (maybe a basic FAQ) on what U3 is and what it has to offer over what I already have? I would greatly appreciate it.

Ryan McCue
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U3

is a special USB device that, when plugged in, acts as both a USB and a CD for Autorun. It has the launchpad and specially designed software.
For more info visit: u3.com
----
R McCue

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

Maineman
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Thanks, but...

Already been to u3.com several times. It truly offers little to no information, other than a poorly contrived sales pitch to the vast unknowing public. I can see no reason to change to a u3 drive and use specific u3 software, when I have all these great Portable Apps. What are the advantages?

Ashes for Tears
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The advantages...

Supposedly, a completely self-contained portable application system; though there a a couple of tiny traces here and there. It provides a really simple installation routine for the apps, provides a neat and nice looking interface for launching programs. It also keeps the root of your drive clean, and prevents 'accidents' (;)) by keeping system files and installed programs hidden, though they're easy enough to get to, and configure if you're really determined. There is a growing number of vendors jumping onto the U3 bandwagon, and a fair starting list of useful (though some may be debatable on that :P) apps. The most appealing feature may be, at least for paranoid people like me, an ability to lock out access to your key.

Now, the disadvantages:
Alot of the apps of any use (excluding our wonderful open source ones of course :D) require a paid license. If you want to hack in some of the programs you already have, you should know what you are doing, because you can mess up the drive (guilty!:D). If you lose the password to your drive, and the password recovery dosen't work, your last resort is to wipe the drive of data.

It's a nice concept, but I think it's geared more toward 'Beginner', to 'Intermediate'. It does have some interesting developer stuff, though, and it's really fun to hack. On the other hand, I'm not so sure I like its 'commercialized' feel so much.

John T. Haller
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Traces and Passwords

The apps I've done for U3 work the same as the stand alone portable apps released here. Neither leave personal details behind. U3's Launchpad does leave a file or two behind on most systems, it seems, within C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\U3. (On my system, I currently have cleanup.exe within a subdirectory there) Some U3 apps leave bits behind, too. Like with standard portable apps, it's up to the U3 app itself not to leave traces on the system and to clean up after itself.

Be careful on the U3 password protection thing. Unlike something like TrueCrypt, it doesn't appear to encrypt your drive or data. It just appears to prevent the second drive from being 'inserted'. I'm not sure how secure that is and I've had a couple interesting reports about it. If you're keeping important bits on a U3 device, I'd suggest keeping em in one of the password managers like Pass2Go which lets you use AES, Blowfish or RC6 encryption. Important bits on a regular device, use something like Pass2Go or Keepass. Or encrypt the whole drive with TrueCrypt.

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

walts
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Good summary

Thanks for the comments - they reflect my own experiences well. I actually arrived here by following Thunderbird and wondering why suddenly there is a new developer for the latest U3 version. I suspect politics, and don't want get into that.
I am amazed and delighted at the work you have one on this site, John, and have already begun using your implemenation of thunderbird, on my U3 drive but apart from their structure.
For me, the primary advantages of the U3 concept are the ability to not leave "tracks" on the host machine, the menu structure, and the (hope, at least) that if the drive were lost or stolen it would at least keep a casual snooper out of your files. I wish the "lost password" stuff was not so draconian, and I wish I had more information on how well the device really was protected. As one of the earlier posters commented, the U3 website is very lacking in useful information, and very hard to navigate!

Maybe this belongs in the Development section of this forum, but it seems at least to fit here. What I'd really like is to do is to configure a USB thumb drive so it would be protected against someone else using it or discovering its contents, with a menu shell similar to the Windows start menu but apart from it, that would not leave behind any evidence of its having been used on the host - and would not require being logged in with administrator rights to use it. It should be relatively easy to add ANY program to the menu structure.
I'll continue to see what I can do with PoratbleApps outside of U3. I'm excited about the concept, thanks for this website!

Walt

strider_mt2k
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I came to the same conclusion...

I recently bought a black 2GB Sandisk Cruzer Micro that "features" U3.
My findings are the same as yours. Not much there I'm interested in that I'm not already doing with a non-U3 drive.

Questions that jump to mind are:
Can the U3 partition be removed to make use of the space it takes up?
Can it be restored again if so?

I guess I'm going to go find out...

Bobvark
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security

for me the security is worth it. Faster than using truecrypt.....

John T. Haller
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Sorta

There is an unofficial installer that someone got from BestBuy that is floating around online. Once uninstalled, U3 can't be reinstalled. It's tied to the drive you buy it on.

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

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