[windows2000] TIP: Why your USB Key may not work on a public workstation and how to get it to work!

  • From: "Jim Kenzig ThinHelp.com" <jkenzig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: THIN <thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, windows2000@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 11:37:54 -0500

Our local Web Guru Greg Weller here at the Library I work for just came
across some great information that I wanted to go ahead and pass along to
the group about USB Drive issues on locked down machines. As most of you
know not all USB Stick, keys, fob, or whatever you want to call them work on
public computers. That is because a lot of them use a proprietary driver.
Greg has discovered that holding the shift key down when inserting the
device bypasses the request for driver installation and recognizes the key
as a basic drive.

Here is the text from Greg:

There is a distinct class of USB drives that are labeled as a 'U3' device,
or a SmartDrive. A lot of the Sandisk Cruzers are this type of device. Some
other big ones are: Kingston U3 DataTraveler, Verbatim Store 'n' Go U3 Smart
Drive, Intuix Smart Drive, Memorex Mini TravelDrive, and GeekSquad Flash
Drives. The U3 home page is here:

*http://www.u3.com/default.aspx* <http://www.u3.com/default.aspx>

And there's a more comprehensive list of drives and what they look like


The U3 device has a launcher application that starts when you plug it in and
while they say that it doesn't affect the operating system it does in the
sense that it needs to load some drivers in and then wants you to reboot the
PC in order for it to work. Obviously, this is not going to work on a Dell
in the branch. Here's the fix: Hold down the Shift key while you are
plugging in the device, and keep the shift key held down for around 30
seconds. This disables the launch pad and it now looks like a plain old USB
drive instead of a SmartDrive. The only other apparent solution to this is
to wipe the drive completely to remove the software, which is not something
that I would ever tell a patron to do. This 'fix' is from the USB page, and
does not harm the drive. I tested it out on our Dell behind the help desk,
and on a couple of machines at a branch and devices that I've never gotten
to work on a Dell, worked fine. As far as it goes, it might just be a good
idea to tell people to hold down the Shift key no matter what kind of USB
drive they're plugging in.

Thanks for the tip and info Greg!

Jim Kenzig
Microsoft MVP - Terminal Services
Citrix Technology Professional
Provision Networks VIP
CEO The Kenzig Group
Blog: http://www.techblink.com

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  • » [windows2000] TIP: Why your USB Key may not work on a public workstation and how to get it to work!