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By Dennis Tielmann

It's not a U-boat missing from world war II. It's also not Bono's new side project. Rather, U3 is a technology that enables flash drives to independently store and run software, including personal settings.

The exact name is U3 smart. And smart it is, if you consider that previous USB drives were restricted to file storage only. You could not execute programs from it. The U3 system has changed this however. Now you can transport your browser, anti-virus software, photo editors and even games.

You can also do your emails, chat with friends or organize your finances. The possibilities with U3 applications are endless. As a matter of fact, the software central gets updated regularly and the technology keeps on evolving. And we're not talking about generic, no-name programs but recognizable brands.

Here are U3 downloads one can choose from: Firefox or Opera for browsers, Avast or McAfee for security, Thunderbird or Carry it Easy for email, and Skype or Pidgin for messenging.

Brand U3 programs also don't fall short of entertainment. To download and watch movies you can use Veoh to play your favorite music you can go for Winamp or Xion. If you like to get podcasts you can use myPodder. And of course, there's U3 games.

Would you like to play Sudoku? Pool? Casino? Or how about Zack or Chicken Invaders? Once again, the list for U3 downloads is limitless. Especially after joining with BigFishGames, the popular online game portal. It brings us classics such as Solitaire or Mahjong and adventures like Professor Fizzwizzle and Coffee House Chaos.

Keep in mind again that U3 memory sticks are totally independent of whatever computer you plug you them into. Once downloaded or already pre-installed, you run the U3 applications from the drive itself. And if for some reason you don't like the extra functionality and want your flash drive to be normal just use the U3 uninstaller. It's simple as that!

So where does U3 smart actually come from? The answer lies with M-Systems and SanDisk who are the brains and main developers. Unsurprisingly, the latter company has vastly implemented this technology in its products. Actually, SanDisk is the biggest supplier of U3 memory sticks there is, including its Cruzer flash drive series.

For a complete list of U3 programs and a launchpad screenshot check out my blog post on U3 Flash Drives.

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