Portable application Flash drives hit the streets

U3 take-away Home folder system available now

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USB Flash drives based on technology developer U3's portable application specification started shipping today.

Available drives come from Kingston, Memorex and Verbatim, the three storage companies U3 announced as supporters of the platform last March. Disgo, Intuix and Disk2Go also have products supporting the U3 system. U3 said I-O Data will begin to produce U3-based Flash drives for the Japanese market early next year.

U3's technology enables compatible applications to be run right off a compliant USB Flash drive, safe in the knowledge that preferences and user data will be kept on the device, not written to the host PC's hard drive. The upshot is the ability to take your data to any computer without the need to ensure either that the machine you're about to use has the right applications installed or, if it does, to re-enter all your personalisation information, such as bookmarks, sign-on codes and so on.

Applications given support for the U3 system include Winamp, Skype and Firefox.

U3, which was co-founded by M-Systems and SanDisk in January, touts the technology as an alternative to notebook computers, but with compatible drives coming in at 512MB, 1GB or 2GB, they're not yet a replacement for a fully laden laptop.

The technology is also limited to Windows-based computers. ®