U3 is a SanDisk-backed portable applications system that appeared on USB flash drives around 2003 and despite being influential and still in use has gradually petered out ever since. It is not considered current and the official website appears to have died.

What to do with a U3 flash drive if the U3 launchpad feature is no longer wanted? In some cases the software on some flash drives has proved incompatible with Vista and Windows 7 and it also fires up when the drive is inserted into a computer, which can be intrusive.

It is sometimes possible to manually remove U3 virtual CD using a utility built into the drive itself.

Failing that a dedicated utility can be downloaded from SanDisk which will do the job, and even back up data on the drive in the process.

With U3 removed, the drive loads as a single drive letter (rather than as two under U3) and all formatted storage is available as with any other flash drive.

Download the U3 removal utility here. This works for all makes of drive and not only SanDisk’s.

Alternatively, for most SanDisk drives it is possible to re-install U3 using a separate XP utility.