Computer Guide

What is a U3 USB drive?

by George Skarbek - 2 October 2007

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What is a U3 USB drive?

Q: I need to upgrade my old 128 MB USB drive as it cannot hold my backups. Some new USB drives refer to U3. What is it and do I need it?

A: In addition to storing backups, etc, the U3 standard allows some programs to be run entirely from the USB drive without leaving any trace of your programs or data on the host computer.

This can be handy in an Internet café where you can launch your own browser, Firefox, and have all your bookmarks immediately available. Thunderbird, the mail reader is one free application that may also be of use in an Internet café as this has a junk filter and Anti-Phishing Protection. Currently, the number of programs that are able to run from the USB drive is limited however the portable version of Open Office is available. This free program can read and write almost all Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The U3 has a few other nice features and assuming that you are not paying more than a couple of dollars extra for one of these then I suggest that you consider using one. See: for information on this standard. However, not many users really need this facility if purchasing a USB drive just for backup reasons.

In my opinion it is more important to purchase a multi GB USB drive that has fast read and write speed as you will save a lot of time in copying files. Read speeds are higher than write speed and you should consider drives that offer at least 20 MB / sec read speed. Generally the faster drives are more expensive, but surprisingly not always. If you backup at least daily then the additional speed will be worth the small additional purchase cost.

Copying address book into Vista

Q: I currently have Windows XP and have bought a new computer running Windows Vista. How do I copy my current Microsoft Outlook address book and Internet Explorer onto a disc and then copy them into my new Windows Vista?

A: For the address book, locate the Outlook.pst file on the XP computer then copy it to a temporary location on the Vista computer. Then open Vista’s Outlook and click on File Import and Export then select Import Internet Mail and Addresses and follow the prompts.

To copy your Favorites go to the C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Favorites folder from XP and then copy it to the same location on Vista.

If you are using a CD and not a USB drive then you should remove the read-only flag from the Favorites as during copying using a CD this file attribute is not removed. This is done by highlighting all Favorites, right-clicking and then remove the read-only setting.


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