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Author Topic: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons  (Read 9233 times)

TucknDar

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U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« on: April 25, 2007, 04:08:04 AM »
So I just bought a U3 smart pen drive (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3 and http://www.u3.com/) thinking that I need a bit of a portable "office" for university and maybe using others' computers. Before buying it I only scratched the surface of that U3 stuff, and thought it sounded excellent. Now I'm not so sure... Not that it's bad or anything, but I'm not sure whether there's any real benefit to running my portable software U3 style or just "regular portable" (like http://portableapps.com/).

some Pros:
Autorun when inserted. Since U3 involves mounting two partitions, one of them is a virtual CD-rom drive with CD autoplay features, that'll start the U3 launcher on the other regular flash partition. (read above links for better explanation)
Compressed format. Not that important, but space on the flash drive is saved for other things. With 4 gigs of space, I don't know if a couple hundred kb's matter ;)
With an AHK script, most apps can be "U3ized"Take a look at U3Helper!

some Cons:
Needs two drive letters. While this is no problem on my home system, it can be a problem on a university or other "networked" areas, where the system might not allow more than one drive letter for inserted flash drives. I know the place I study gives me problems with this, thus making the drive pretty much unusable  :(
Needs to uncompress to run. While compression may save space on the drive, I think it makes all apps a wee bit slower since it needs to decompress them to fixed drive to run.


Since I've only recently started using this stuff, these lists are small, but I'd like other's input as well.

Both pros and cons with the U3 system and/or the "regular" portable solution are very welcome!
« Last Edit: April 25, 2007, 06:14:46 AM by TucknDar »

mrainey

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2007, 06:48:32 AM »
I never figured out any "pros" to U3, so uninstalled it.
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nite_monkey

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2007, 12:54:18 PM »
I just use regular portable apps, they are good, portablefreeware.com has a massive list of portable apps. My Brother had a U3 drive, but then he got rid of the U3 part, it took to long to load, so now he has a regular 4 gig flash drive.
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Tekzel

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2007, 02:19:50 PM »
U3 is neat and all, and I still have mine set up with it, but I am considering removing it.  Portableapps.com has a launcher much like it that is less wierd. As for the auto run thing?  Eh.  With XP you can basically autorun it anyway with the autorun.inf with one click on the little window that comes up on removable device insertion.  I have it password protected and that is the only reason I haven't removed U3 from it.

TucknDar

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2007, 04:34:47 PM »
Well, I took the plunge and uninstalled U3, and unless there's some significant improvement with that system, I'll stick with regular portability :)

The autorun hasn't worked for me in quite a while (I suspect there's a conflict with the shell I'm running, Litestep, since autorun works when explorer is shell), but I use the excellent service USBDLM (USB Drive Letter Manager) to take care of the USB drives on my system (pen drives and external hard drives), and that also fixes autorun! I don't know yet if my university supports autorun.inf from pen drives, but if it doesn't it's still a small sacrifice.

But please continue with arguments or tips for portable apps in general :)

Tekzel

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2007, 01:02:29 PM »
Well since my post above I decided to go ahead and copy the data off my 2gb stick and uninstall the U3 system from it then switch to the PortableApps launcher.  I am 100% glad I did it, the PA launcher is better in my opinion and it looks like some neat new features will be coming up soon.  I like the integrated backup utility and not having to do some kind of arcane magic to add something to the launcher.  Very happy with the change.  Thought I would pop in here and let anyone that is interested know.

TucknDar

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2007, 01:27:09 PM »
Tekzel, I'm with you there, non-U3 PortableApps is the way I want to go too. I wasn't too impressed with the PA Launcher, but PStart is exactly what I need from a portable launcher, and with the little tool PathSync, I can synchronize important files!

Tekzel

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2007, 01:30:29 PM »
Tekzel, I'm with you there, non-U3 PortableApps is the way I want to go too. I wasn't too impressed with the PA Launcher, but PStart is exactly what I need from a portable launcher, and with the little tool PathSync, I can synchronize important files!

Well I use PStart too.  I have 3 2.5" external hard drives in external enclosures that do not require external power loaded down with 4gb of tools, drivers, etc.  I have Autopatcher for 2k, xp, 2003 and Vista (beta version) on there too.  On these I use PStart, and I use Microsoft Synctoy to keep them updated from a location on my hard drive (left to right copy only).  For my usb stick, I prefer the PA launcher, a much smaller collection of apps is loaded on there and the PA launcher just looks better haha.

hamradio

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2007, 09:51:16 PM »
You can also use the wonderful LaunchBar Commander by Mouser on a USB stick too. :) Thats what I use with the launchbar minimized as a menu.
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TucknDar

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2007, 03:13:47 AM »
You can also use the wonderful LaunchBar Commander by Mouser on a USB stick too. :) Thats what I use with the launchbar minimized as a menu.
Oh, yeah! That's a great idea. Why didn't I think of that sooner. I suppose all of mousers apps are portable :)

rjbull

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2007, 03:23:39 AM »
Horst Schaeffer's Qsel is another tiny launcher designed for portability.


Hirudin

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2007, 01:24:37 AM »
All I know is my U3 drive is now U3 free. I didn't like the 2 drives it created, I rarely used the menu (except to eject the drive) and use the U3 software even less. I also almost exclusively use my personal computer, so portability (in the sense of actually being able to carry programs around) isn't important to me at all.

Also, it wasn't coming up on my Vista computer, and the U3 site made it out to seem like the U3 app had to be running in order to upgrade it, so I decided to ditch it.

dblvsn

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2007, 11:48:48 AM »
Has anyone heard of Migo Sync? Its a sync tool that can be downloaded onto USB. I don't think it runs like U3, but similiar in the fact that you can get it preloaded on a drive...Thoughts?

Mandork

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2007, 04:17:50 PM »
I have a SanDisk drive with U3 on it that I used today for the first time.  WTF?  I disabled autorun on all my drives ages ago, and I wasn't really expecting to have some huge "launch" area come up.  The university's networked PCs didn't like it all, either, and it took ages to shut it down.

Bleah.  I'll be unistalling that ASAP.  What do you need a separate launcher for, anyway?  I'm genuinely curious.
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MerleOne

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2007, 07:21:36 AM »
Actually, how do you uninstall U3 ?  I have a Verbatim 4GB U3 key and don't see how I could manage this, expecially how to remove the second "un-useful" drive letter) ?  Thanks.
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nite_monkey

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2007, 12:37:16 PM »
Actually, how do you uninstall U3 ?  I have a Verbatim 4GB U3 key and don't see how I could manage this, expecially how to remove the second "un-useful" drive letter) ?  Thanks.
There is a program on the internet to remove it, I don't know where it is because I don't have a u3 drive.
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mrainey

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2007, 01:54:24 PM »
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steeladept

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Re: U3 Portable Smart Drives pros and cons
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2007, 03:56:03 PM »
Another thread revival :huh:

I just bought a Lexar Lightning drive.  It came with a PortableApps like program called PowerToGo.  Has anyone worked with this?  How does it compare?  It looks promising, but many of the apps look like they are somewhat dated.  However, some look like this is the only way they are available.  I haven't looked into it much yet, but I thought I would throw it out there as I am starting to look towards running applications from the drive now that it is big enough and fast enough to be useful.