A U3-enabled USB drive is a memory drive that can run programs you take from PC to PC. It has an interface from which you launch applications so you can take programs and your settings and preferences on any Windows 2000 or XP PC. Vista versions are being added.
Insert your U3 drive and wait for the small dialog box in your taskbar to pop up confirming that the drivers for it have installed and it's ready to use. Click on My Computer (Computer in Vista) and you'll see it listed as a removable drive, as with a standard USB drive. Double-click and choose LaunchU3.exe.
Once installed, a U3 icon will appear in your taskbar. Click this to bring up the U3 Launchpad - your drive's mini program list. Default programs including Skype and Avast Antivirus are listed. To see a full list of programs on your drive, click Explore U3 Drive. The U3 icon is present in your taskbar only when the drive is plugged in.
Double-click a U3 app to fire it up - you go through a wizard the first time you launch each one. Files you create will be saved in the drive's Documents folder. Use the Program Manager to rearrange the programs listed and those that autostart. To view available space on your drive, click Status and Settings, Capacity.
To add a program to your Launchpad, click the Download Programs button. Choose either the U3 website's Software Central or head to Sandisk's website. Most programs have a trial version. On Software Central you can view programs by popularity and have prices for paid-for programs listed in pounds.
New programs will be copied to your USB drive, then launch an installation wizard. We downloaded OpenOffice for U3. Once installed, bring up the U3 Launchpad and click Explore U3 Drive to locate it if the list on the left is full. To add it to this menu, go to Manage U3 Programs and select the option manually.
You can download portable programs from a non-U3 site such as portableapps.com, and install them as you would an app on your PC. Remember to browse to the USB drive as the location for the program files to be saved, rather than accepting the default C: programs folder on your desktop.
You can password-protect your drive using built-in password protection. Or grab a third-party security tool from U3.com or portableapps.com. Click on Status and Settings and choose Enable. Then select a password. Note that you'll be locked out if you forget this, so choose a suitable memory jogger in the field provided.
You can surf the web from your U3 drive and make use of your browser favourites as well as having your surfing history logged to the U3 device but not to the host PC. This keeps your browsing private as well as making research projects more efficient, if you've already got so far.
Avast Antivirus comes preinstalled on your U3 drive. It's also sensible to have an antispyware program running on your drive since USB ports are an easy way for keyloggers and other malware to spread. Download one from the Software Central before you start web surfing, or using an IM or VoIP service.