Monday, August 28, 2006

Uninstall U3 And Free Your USB Drive

My partner recently bought a USB drive to go with her nice shiny laptop. We decided on the cheapest Busbi 1GB unit at the local Argos. Unfortunately, on inserting this drive several strange things happened to my computer. It appeared that some strange software app had installed without permission and was dictating how I should or shouldn't use the drive.

On inspection it was evident that the drive had automatically installed itself as two different partitions. The first contains a read-only software package called U3, and the second has the executable application component plus a documents folder. U3 apparently makes it easy for you to do things like copy files... not that anyone should need help with that! You can also install various applications so that they will run off the USB drive and not touch the Windows system.

Fair enough I suppose, some might like that. But maybe people should know that this facility is already available for software like FireFox and OpenOffice.org, without needing anything like U3.

Most people object to having automatic processes clogging up their computer's memory. Not only that, but how professional would it look to have this pop up on your bosses computer, simply because you wanted to copy a file? It seems to me that might violate all sorts of work codes.

I set about repartitioning and reformatting the drives to remove U3. No can do. Even if the data drive is reformatted, it is restored when the stick is activated, being reloaded from the read-only partition. And that partition appears like a CD-ROM drive and hence cannot be formatted.

But help is on its way, courtesy of the fine folk at Ars Technica who made solutions available in this thread. The upshot is that, due to public pressure, an uninstall utility is now available at the official U3 site.

And for those with Win98 SE, here is a generic driver that will work with storage-type devices (cameras, flash drives) so you don't need to use possibly bloated manufacturer's installations. I have not tested this because I do not use Win 98 anymore (thank goodness!).

Will companies ever stop their patronising attitudes and allow us to opt-in to software instead of making us jump through hoops to opt-out?

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52 comments:

robin said...

I just fixed the bad link to the uninstall utility.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the U3 removal info. Worked perfectly and now my new 4GB stick works like it should. First time visitor to your site. Will be back to see what you're all about another time.

Thanks again,

Wayne

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for that link. I bought a Busbi drive earlier today from Argos and the U3 nonsense was driving me up the wall.

If I wanted my USB drive to run portable apps I'd download the (free) Portable Apps suite - loads more programs and all of them free.

A hell of a lot easier to uninstall too...

Anonymous said...

You are my hero! U3 was driving me crazy on a PNY Flashdrive. and your link worked perfect.

Anonymous said...

A lifesaver, thank you - factory configuragion was toxic.

Could not find the w98 driver from link on page, but found and used this:

http://www.technical-assistance.co.uk/kb/usbmsd98.php

-hk

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed by your arrogance towards U3 and what benefits it truly provides. Sorry to say but U3 has nothing to do with helping you copy files - it is a launcher app that allows specially written programs to run from, and exist on the USB stick without leaving traces on the Windows system.

I'm sure many of you are aware that even simple programs love to write their config data to the Registry and possibly other places in Windows too - U3 programs are designed to keep no traces on the system so that when you log off/eject the U3 drive, there's no trace of any of the U3 apps you were running on the system.

... and no, you can't emulate those features already with many programs - and no, Firefox isn't the only program people run on U3 drives. In fact, I run FF off my Windows system, however I have Roboform on the U3 drive so that my passwords go where the USB key goes - and I never have to sync anything to keep it that way.

Sure you can choose to remove U3, but if you had actually thought to read up on what benefits U3 might have for you, you may have decided to try it out instead of crying about the auto-launch feature - which by the way you can turn off.

If there's anything I don't like about U3, it's the ugly launchpad it has. I'd be much happier if it were a simple Windows-like menu instead of some brushed metal skin as it is now.

jemtman said...

For those who don't really want to uninstall it (i'll admit, some parts of it are kind of nice), you can do a temporary fix by holding the shift key prior to inserstion (hold until the autoplay screen comes up in XP). This will disable the u3 program from starting.

robin said...

Thanks for all the comments and extra info. Despite the "friendly" post of 25 March (from someone who obviously didn't get to the last line of the article) it seems most people prefer that their computers do what they're told... and not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

thanks. the u3 software is intrusive and obnoxious.

Anonymous said...

I can see why people could see this app as intrusive, but I as far as bundled software goes, I find it quite useful. You have a fast, small footprint, portable operating system that you could use to launch apps that leave zero trace behind. You can bypass the OS per session (which will not allow you to bypass the security), or you could remove it altogether.

Not sure why people believe that it's difficult to uninstall. On my device (SanDisk), it's about three clicks.

Personally I think it's cool.jn

Anonymous said...

uhm. i'll give some credit to the age of this article (and not bash some of the inaccuracies), but i feel i have to point out the usefulness of this software. if for no other reason, i left the u3 stuff intact because it allows me to launch programs simply by inserting my thumbdrive into a system. poof, i have antivirus running. poof, my diagnostic software comes up and asks if i want it to run. makes troubleshooting pc's (my job) much less of a hassle when all my tools are available simply by plugging in the stick... no digging through menus, they just start up and begin, well, doing my job for me :) admittedly, this isn't required (or even desired) for everyone, but i love my u3. sidesteps the autorun.inf problems on non-cdrom media nicely.

Anonymous said...

(same poster as above)
just wanted to add that my paranoia led me to yoink this from the first few drives i ran into with u3 on them, but then i looked into what it actually does, and found that with some configuration, it's a beautiful thing. you might want to give it a second glance, just to be sure you don't want it. u3p applications are awesome, and the autolaunch feature (as i stated above) is a huge boon for those who like the idea of simplifying their lives.

as an aside, i plan to put a virtual pc emulator on it in the near future, and autorun a small linux install for some basic tasks (email, browsing, etc.)... then i don't have to worry about whether the "portable" apps actually stay out of the hive and off of the drive - they'll simply be writing to the virtual hard drive in the virtual machine. stealth-mode ftw!

robin said...

I am glad some folks find the utility useful. But the point is that there was no option to use it or not, and no uninstall utility, until public pressure demanded it. If U3 now comes with its own uninstall option, I am glad this post is redundant.

resdev said...

Thank you very much for posting this. The security and ethical considerations of U3 bothered me greatly. I got a great deal on a 4GB Cruzer drive that I couldn't pass up. But I was frustrated by the virtual CDROM partition that showed up in Linux and then it installed itself without an authorization prompt on my windows box. This reminded of the "opt out plans" from various companies. You aren't protected unless you ask to be. I wrote a email to the company telling them of the things they need to consider when putting a package like this together. If they want to offer it then great, but make it an install package so that the user can decide if they want it before hand.

Also, I am all for portable applications, however there are open-source and freely available programs. These also aren't nearly as intrusive.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Great with the uninstall facility?

But you have to ask the IT department to run it for you!

There are now other auto-run-with-nothing-left utilities, that are a lot more friendly. Based on both Win and Linux.

- No wonder Toshiba is trying to flog their U3 drives at ridiculously cheap prices in Australia at the moment!

Anonymous said...

what do you guys mean "the CD-ROM drive installed itself" ?
No it doesn't, drives don't "install"
they "mount" and the default windows-behavior is to auto-mount any
drive that has a supported file-system .

Anonymous said...

U3 sucks, I nuked mine. Much better now. Portable apps is much better anyways, and the softwares free, no strings attached like U3 crap. I dont like marketing crap shoved in my face...

Anonymous said...

um, did you people read the packaging before you bought the U3 drives? It should have said right on it that it was a U3 drive, not a regular usb drive. If you wanted a regular usb drive why didn't you just buy one?? Its like buying an orange and then being mad because its not a banana!

robin said...

"Its like buying an orange and then being mad because its not a banana!"

This analogy only holds if you know of a quick fix for converting an orange to a banana. If so, I'd love to hear from you.

"It should have said right on it that it was a U3 drive"

Yes it should have, with full details of the benefits and restrictions. But most manufacturers say nowt. Hence the problem.

Anonymous said...

I spent four hours tonight trying to rip U3 out of a W2K system.

It installed without permission or notice; it put the executable directory in an extremely non-standard location (under the Administrator's "Documents and Settings", not "Program Files"); it offered no way to get it off the system; and it reinstalled itself after I tore it out manually.

I manually disabled auto-run in the registry when the system was built. I still haven't figured out how it got around that.

I had to run the removal program twice to get rid of it. The first try didn't remove it; I had to pull it out, reboot and try again. Several people have commented about this elsewhere.

I think those things pretty well define "malware."

I also think that the comment about the package stating that it is a U3 drive is not valid. Most USB drives come with some kind of free software on them these days, and all of it I have seen is optional to install. If a drive comes with free McAfee or whatever, the package says so, and formatting the drive gets rid of it permanently.

I didn't see anything on the U3 drive package that said "There is hidden software on this product that you may not want and it may pose a security risk to your system. Formatting the drive won't eliminate it; we have made sure that the ONLY way to eliminate it is to connect it to your computer, let it install itself, and then run our proprietary removal tool."

Anonymous said...

thanks for this - i work in a uni and none of our public machines (due to security restrictions) are able to read a pen drive with this software.

No, we don't want to autorun every random program on a pen disk. Wonder why?

And to the angry anon who loves u3 - yeah, sounds great, if I want it I'll install it. Don't make me install and run proprietary software I don't like (and doesn't even run on secure desktops) just to use a thumb drive as a thumb drive.

Anonymous said...

"we have made sure that the ONLY way to eliminate it is to connect it to your computer, let it install itself, and then run our proprietary removal tool."

Well, I guess that just settles any argument, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

U3 makes absolutely no sense. Basically it lets you do what you already can do, but with a hassle. Thanks for the utility to uninstall it. It really helps

Anonymous said...

i think u3 is a lot like sherlock on macs. it lets u do what u can already do but makes everything messed up in the process. not only that but the company that makes u3 has offered freeware that uninstalls their software they made!

Anonymous said...

sure, it had some security features that were nice (in theory) but it was hell for tightly secured or out-of-date networks used by, for example, a gargantuan hospital. it caused me countless headaches when trying to move files from the hospital's infrastructure to my own.

at last, relief.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info, I'm finally free of the u3 bullshit!

What pissed me off most was the amount of time it took windows (at work) to recognise the thing...

Anonymous said...

This U3 Software Crashed two of my computers beyond recoverable. I billed Sandisk for the technical support. It launches and threw up a blue screen and hard crashed the computer and it kept doing that on boot up.

bill said...

tahzfthHelp, please. I deleted all files in Drive K, but the U3 launch file is still there. I try to run "uninstall", and it tells me that I used it once and don't get to use it again! How get rid of the rest of U3 without the built-in uninstaller?

Anonymous said...

thank you - i found the u3 program incredibly annoying.

Anonymous said...

I dont want to use the removal software because I would have to agree to the licence for it, -just to get rid of something I didn't agree to anyway! I sure do not intend to buy another one!

Anonymous said...

In order for the uninstall tool to work, you can only have one USB flash drive installed. My system comes with USB flash hardwired to the motherboard (to support Vista ReadyBoost) that cannot be removed. I have to disable it in the BIOS rather than Sandisk ID their USB drive by the ROM section. Irritation upon irritation upon irritation!

kd said...

cheers - thanks!

Anonymous said...

The U3 system is ill conceived. I threw away 1 thumb drive with the U3 system because my computer kept identifying it as having a virus. This software saved me from throwing away a 4 GB drive. U3 is as bad as a virus.

Anonymous said...

Well, when I stuck the Kingston U3 drive in a windows machine and tried to use the uninstall program, it kept saying "please insert a usb drive and try again".{sigh} I don't think it's removable from the original Kingston data travelers. I need to make this a bootable stick and NOT have the other partition on there that mounts as a CDROM. Very frustrating.

I complained to the folks at Kingston, and they just told me "you bought a U3 device. If you didn't want U3, you should have purchased a non-U3 drive".

Well, I calmly informed them that the packaging clearly said that ALL PREINSTALLED SOFTWARE was REMOVABLE. They then informed me that they only meant that the software that works WITH the U3 system is removable, but not the U3 software itself, and that they were sorry it failed to meet my expectations.

I think it is false advertising to say that all the software is removable and not inform the consumer that the U3 software itself is not.

If anyone has a clue how to eliminate the U3 when the uninstaller fails, please let me know. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The guy who wrote this
"""
I'm amazed by your arrogance towards U3 and what benefits it truly provides. Sorry to say but U3 has nothing to do with helping you copy files - it is a launcher app that allows specially written programs to run from, and exist on the USB stick without leaving traces on the Windows system.
"""

I can only say two things
1) you work for U3
2) Makes it easy to install virus programs, read the hacks

Anonymous said...

I have Kingston too, and used the u3 removal utility, and it returns me an error message and a "please insert a usb drive and try again" message every time.
I really need to get rid of this preinstalled software. I haven't thought it would be such a problem.
So PLEASE if anyone knows how to do it, post a comment. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Chillout all. U3 is a tool that some people like and some people hate. The ability to uninstall is invaluable but if you had an issue with the program in some way "installing" something on your pc. You are sadly wrong. It will not "install" anything without asking as that violates the millenium act. Please research your stuff before you make worthless comments.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info!

vidy said...

i think U3 is not required on all the thumb drives. If you need to run apps from the thumbdrive then you can have it on one, no need to mix it with the data carrying device. I work on my laptop, so i dont really need to have a app running from my thumbdrive, and to add to that if you are using Vista, then it even increases the time it takes to just open the drive. So my opinion is that one should have the option. everyone does not have a standard set of requirements.

Anonymous said...

thanks to U3, my flash drive will not work with the computers at my school since there are not enough open drive partitions. thanks for the uninstaller

Claudio Grondi said...

Thank you for having this page online and Google for putting it as top hit while searching for "remove u3 system from usb stick".
It worked for me as expected and saved me the time and trouble to find out about it all myself (yes, I tried and failed - it seems to be really tricky).
And yes, I share your opinion about "smart" devices of this kind.

Anonymous said...

fucking U3 company I bought their usb and used their upgrade and busted my usb

Erik said...

Thanks, you freed my 4GB so I can put PortableApps on it and you freed my 2GB so I could put Xubuntu on it.

First time visitor, but I will be back my friend

Anonymous said...

Quote, "I'm amazed by your arrogance towards U3 and what benefits it truly provides."

Eh?! What benefits? I've been running "portable" application off USB sticks long before this U3 crap. If you want to run self-contained virtual applications, use ThinApps or similar. These can be run off ANY device, be it a hard drive, USB stick, whatever, and don't need intrusive proprietary software.

When I buy a USB stick, I want it to be just that - nothing else. I don't need or want it to manage things for me, as I'm more than capable of dragging and dropping files and creating my own ThinApps.

I totally agree - manufacturers should allow us to opt-in, not jump through hoops to opt-out.

Peter said...

So hopefully someone will find this useful. After lots of googling I found that there weren't any instructions for removing U3 under linux. Truth be told, it's really easy, but the solution is as obscure as it is easy.

1)Mount the U3 "cd" partition
2)Run Mount to find out the name of the device that U3 is on. It should be some thing like scd#, the important part is the number there.
2.5) Just to be sure you've got the right device check that /dev/sr# is a symlink to /dev/scd# that you just found.
3) Now that you know which device you're looking for you can start the actual removal. cd to /sys/class/block/sr#/device/
4)In this directory is a file named delete, it's write only by root, and if you write to it (I've only ever tried with "1") the U3 partition will be removed. With root privileges 'echo "1" > delete' removes it quite nicely.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I would love to know more about the particular flavor of Linux used for the platform upon which you removed the U3 curse. If you could post back further information, I'd be grateful, or you can email me: allan.gh@gmail.com, if that's more to your liking.

soenke said...

Peter, your solution does not seem to really remove the "CD-drive" permanently, at least not with recent U3 USB sticks (I tried it today with a week-old SanDisk Cruzer 4GB). "echo 1 > /sys/class/block/$DEVICE/device/delete" only got rid of it while the device was plugged in. After removing and reattaching the drive, the U3 part is still there. :(
So, seems there really is no way to get rid of this in Linux at the moment.

Regards,

soenke

Miki said...

I believe the software comes so firmly installed, and not "opt-in", because they don't want to give people the ability to install this software on other USB drives. They want people who desire this "amazing software" to buy a U3 specific drive, thereby enhancing their own market.

While I found the U3 software fantastic (I love taking my own bookmarks, cookies, and independent apps wherever I go), I agree this kind of marketing tactic is shit, and I was also very put off when I could not access my drive whatsoever using my linux machine. I'm uninstalling U3, and going with portable apps. It's similar to U3, but easy to install and remove, runs lovely on your standard brand of windows, and can be run rather well -- for the most part -- on linux under WINE.

Anonymous said...

The Cruzer 4Gb USB stixck I was just biven for my birthday is a shiece of Pit... Reinstalls the files into the second partition when it is inserted, cannot delete the first partition, the uninsstaller does NOT work on this edition of the software; I got a nice stick, and the only thing is is good for is sticking up the manufacturer's left nostril.

if anyone has a U3 util for the 4Gb Cruser that WORKS, yelp at me. ICQ=27840081.

fabian said...

Why do you have to buy a U3 drive ?
If you don't like this system, don't use it...

robin said...

Fabian, surely a couple minutes of thought would have uncovered many reasons?

1. Sometimes one orders a stick and gets U3 without knowing it.

2. One might knowingly buy a U3 stick not realising one is now wedded to the system.

3. The best deal at the time might be a U3 stick -- not everyone lives in a large centre with lots of choice.

And so on.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info. it's been around now for few years, but now it's 2010 and it's still useless and annoying. If i wanted to run something off my USB stick, it would be ubuntu or some operating system, not some stupid U3 compatible program. I don't need it, i'm a tech savy guy, but my colleagues are not tech-savy, so they wouldn't need it at all, it's a burden forced on them. Stop this bullshit now, before you lose your clients!

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