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Kingston "U3 DataTraveler" = offal

I got a flash drive so I would be able to stop using my Muvo for transporting files to and from work. I got a Kingston 1GB "U3 DataTraveler" for $19, which I thought was a good deal.

However, it came with tons of garbage pre-loaded on the drive. It said so on the package, which I figured was no big deal, I'd just remove it later. A lot of it was shareware / trial versions of stuff I don't want.

Little did I know that the U3 program they pre-installed is in fact un-installable incredibly annoying crapware. Of course it's Windows-only crapware, which alone makes it useless to Linux users. I think U3 makes settings for various programs like Firefox etc. be transferable easily to other computers. And it offers password protection of the drive, or something. Either way, I don't care. The bad thing is that you can't easily uninstall it.

Most of the trial installed crap was on a FAT partition on the drive. First thing, I fdisk'ed it and got rid of all that. But even after doing that, when I plugged the drive in, Gnome would auto-detect it as two drives: one removable drive with a single FAT partition, and the other a read-only "cdrecorder". That read-only partition was apparently where U3 itself lived. Try as I may, I couldn't manage to get rid of the thing in Linux.

Search the U3 website for directions on uninstalling U3. It took me quite a while to find it (here's the link). The uninstaller page itself is a riot. Read and enjoy. They subject you to all sorts of propaganda before you actually get to download the uninstaller. Then they present a survey asking why you want to remove it. Then they present a large red threatening message explaining you're about to delete all your data. They use other neat tricks, like making the uninstaller links as small as possible, light grey color on white background, presented along 3 other links that'll let you "keep" U3, giving buttons with inconsistent and vague text, etc. The layout and the whole process are clearly designed to defeat the casual user and it's borderline unethical in my opinion.

Once you get to the download link, you have to download a .exe that only runs on Windows 2000 or Windows XP. I tried it in VMWare but it didn't work; I didn't really expect it to though. So I rebooted to Windows because at this point I was pretty annoyed. When you run the .exe it makes you click through a EULA and it may have included extra propaganda at that point; I can't quite recall. In any case, the .exe actually did work, which is good. Now the drive is recognized as a plain old flash drive.

The U3 that came with my flash drive is itself a trial version, as near as I can tell. (i.e. it seems to be a trial version of a software management system that serves you up trial versions of other software.) After some period of time, you probably have to buy U3. The idea is obviously to force this software down people's throats, make it really hard to remove, and make money off of suckers who think they need to pay for U3 to keep using the drive at all, or people too impatient or computer-illiterate to figure out how to remove it. I find all of this extremely sleazy.

It's my fault in a sense for not doing more research. But it says absolutely nothing on the package about what U3 is or how hard it is to remove it. It does say on the front of the package: "Trial software uses approximately 48MB of storage and can be deleted"; had it not said that I wouldn't have bought it at all.

In another sense you get what you pay for. This U3 trash probably keeps the price of the drive low. But whatever. I won't buy anything from Kingston again, or anything with U3 installed on it.

January 04, 2007 @ 12:08 PM PST
Cateogory: Hardware
Tags: Rant


David Byrne
Quoth David Byrne on January 10, 2008 @ 1:08 PM PST

Brian, totally agree. U3 is complete crapware and almost bloatware without being bloated. Unstable, annoying and stupid. Finally got rid of it from my Sandisk Cruzer 4GB and even the uninstall had serious problems. Will NEVER buy anything U3 again, and will avoid Sandisk too for being so stupid as to support this rubbish.

Windows = Bloatware U3 = Crapware Linux GUI's = Copyware

Quoth Brian on January 10, 2008 @ 5:22 PM PST

I agree. I tell everyone I know not to get anything with U3 or anything that even smells like it.

Quoth Nick on September 29, 2008 @ 10:48 PM PDT

The downloaded application works only for SANDISK devices Any ideeas?