How do I remove the U3 Smart Software from my Sandisk Flash Drive?

I recently discovered the true evil of the included software on my Sandisk Cruzer Micro 1 GB flash drive with "U3 Smart" technology.

It automatically installs this U3 program onto any Windows PC it is plugged into. Also, the drive itself is partitioned such that a small portion is recognized by WinXP Pro as a CD drive. Therefore, the files on this "CD" partition can't be easily removed by me.

When I erase the program files on the writable partition of the flash drive, they come back the next time I check the drive. I think this happens because the files on the unwritable partition get copied over every time I plug in the drive.

Also, (and here's where it gets really evil) the U3 program that was automatically installed is near impossible to remove. It's not in the add/remove programs list, it's not in the registry, and it's not running as a service. Yet, even after I had a friend open up the flash drive in linux and remove the partitions, and format the drive by writing 0 to every bit, the files were magically back the next time I plugged the drive into a PC with the hidden program. The hidden program restored all the deleted files on the USB device!

So, does anyone know how I can erase this hidden program on my PC and Flash drive once and for all?

Thank you.
34 answers Last reply
More about remove smart software sandisk flash drive
  1. Here ya go. This is the only way I was able to remove it. Kind of a pain.
  2. I hate U3...
    The software packed are available free online...
    U3 is just a program annoying users with the menu and increased loading time
  3. Or put in a Linux or Mac computer and delete the files.
  4. Or just delete the .exe file?? Worked for me.
  5. That does not always work, evongugg is right though.
  6. Scarchunk said:
    Here ya go. This is the only way I was able to remove it. Kind of a pain.

    I don't own the product in question, but the topic was of interest to me so I delved in. I clicked on the link Scarchunk posted, and as I was reading, I came across this:

    And don't worry - your U3 smart drive does not install software on your hard drive automatically. You can always remove any apps you don't want (and download new ones from the ever growing list of apps at Click on the Download U3 Smart Software tab).

    Whoa! Did I miss something? Wasn't the OP complaining about the U3 **** being installed on his PC and damned near impossible to remove? Why aren't there any lawsuits being filed? :)
  7. U3 sucks eggs.
  8. I'll second that. During a U3 software(firmware?) upgrade, it formatted the drive. I lost everything!
  9. wjc3usa said:
    I'll second that. During a U3 software(firmware?) upgrade, it formatted the drive. I lost everything!

    No no no, the automatic format was a "Feature" added to the latest upgrade.
  10. Scarchunk said:
    Here ya go. This is the only way I was able to remove it. Kind of a pain.

    This worked great thankyou :)
  11. 1. U3 was designed for portability
    2. U3 will load a small program on your Windows XP or Vista or 2000 so that upon insetion the device launches rapidly. You also need enough RAM, for the device to work efficiently........
    3. U3 devices are minature hard drives and as such you must unblock the hidden file system files in Control Panel or you will not be able to see all the software.
    4. U3 devices are excellent for travelers who must utilize computers that are not their own. Therefore programs like Robo and Open Office Org are ideal allowing one to read any downloaded email attachments.
    5. My experience is that you need a minimum of 8GB this allows several gigabyte for software and sufficient space to store personal files. Also like a hard drive sufficient space to swap files in and out to RAM. That is why you need sufficient RAM.
    6. A U3 device can be erased and used simply to store personal files or business files without any software, but then you must manually identify the drive through Windows Explorer and know the location to enter files.
    7. U3 devices can become infected with virus or trojan horse like any windows drive.
    8. The free anti-viral softwares are great for scanning your drive just prior to removal so that the next computer you use does not become infected.
    9. I recently downloaded an Opera upgrade the zipped file was infected and my portable viral software caught the infections (four) immediately....
    10. We must remember that these drives are relatively new and eventually this type of technology will replace hard drives in all computers up to including over one terabyte of storage.
    11. U3 devices on older computers that only have USB 1.0 technology are very slow, but with patience they work even on an older computer.
    12. U3 devices used for password storage and password creation to hide from key logger software should be backed up and/or a duplicate USB device kept locked up in a critical place or you may never be able to enter your password protected websites. Robo encrypts your password..............
  12. And guess what? No email on the sandisk site, just telephone, unless you register.. like I would want to give them my email address. Very under-hand methods; very poor integrity: I'd like to be paid for the time I've had to waste removing this software (there was nothing about it on the packaging.) Get your act together sandisk!!!
  13. One thing I noticed is that when you remove the CDFS partition where the U3 software is stored on the device using the software available from the U3 website, YOU DON'T GET THAT STORAGE SPACE BACK!!!


    Very crafty Sandisk. You give us the option to remove YOUR software from OUR drive, but in doing so we relinquish the storage space that YOUR SOFTWARE WAS TAKING UP!!

    That's just not on.
  14. I JUST put in a new SanDisk flash drive, and noticed a weird system folder with zip file.

    I clicked on the 'launch.exe', and it had a help window trying to get me to try their other apps, or just use the flash drive for storage only.

    I checked first thing to see how much space this 'extra' stuff was taking, and it was taking up 2...something MB. I was also suprised that when I plugged it in my windows was recognizing multiple things, one of them being the segmented CD drive, which I was very confused by.

    So I clicked on the 'storage only' button, and it said just a minute while it removed the software, but it said I could always hit the restore.exe to get it back.

    Now I noticed a NEW restoreU3.exe icon next to the launch.exe icon, and the CD drive was now gone. The system and zip folder are still there unchanged.

    HOWEVER, I check the flash capacity, and NOW it's using 4.28 MB!!! It DOUBLED in size! What the eff??? Why can't I just have a flash drive with nothing on it? What is all this malarky? I wonder if the flash drive will be hurt if I just delete all that junk. :heink:
  15. *** ing user on my pc, i use vista by the way, any that can help me remove the exe file?
  16. Hello there, i am in need of help removing a U3 launch file, that i transferred from a class mates USB along with some other files that i needed by accsident, now since i dont got the USB, i cant use the removal tool, and it wont let it self be deleted since it need administrator approval to delete it, there is only 1 bloody user on my pc, i use vista by the way, any that can help me remove the exe file?
  17. I dont know I find the U3 software ok I dont use the U3 apps but I like the user password keeps my data safe if I loose the drive
    I hope I dont loose it it is an 8gig
    But Imation has a simular software called CLIP Software again I use only the PASSWORD option
  18. You may not want to completely remove U3 after you read my blog post. It turns out that the U3 CD is actually bootable on most modern PC's and you can edit the contents using u3-tool from sourceforge...
  19. I came to this thread in search for a different solution...not to remove U3, but to return it to the condition it was delivered in. I bought the drive with the intent of using it for ReadyBoost in Windows 7, but that turned sour, not improving anything, and in fact I'm having a problem with boot hangs since installing it. However the hangs are not the reason for my post.

    When Windows converted it to ReadyBoost, it kept 7MBs of CDFS containing U3 and converted the rest to FAT32. I'm assuming that for the drive to regain it's potential as a U3 drive, that everything needs to be changed back to CDFS. This is something that can not be done via formatting in Disk Management, but if it were, I assume that it would be necessary to copy/paste the U3 files elsewhere, and copy/pasted back after formatting is finished to preserve the files. However, this leaves two there something else involved that is not apparent on the surface, that would need to be addressed to restore the drive properly, and what to use to do the formatting?
  20. How to remove U3:

    using u3-tool:

    sudo fdisk -l (to figure out what drive letter you are on)
    u3-tool -p 0 /dev/sd<your device letter here> (The flash drive not the CD)

    using u3 uninstaller from Sandisk:

  21. Please note that if your lcick the 'cancel' button during the 'backing up drive' state the program will then procede to wipe the drive. It doesn't cancel the whole thing, it only cancels backing up! I did this and lost all my data. Luckily I dont think theyre was anything important on there.
  22. Grr... this site wont let me edit the message to remove typos.
  23. Hello,

    I could remove totally with the U3 "Launchpad Removal Tool" downloaded from the Sandisk Site :

    It worked even on my Intuix key.

    Now I can use the whole space of the key for my documents.
  24. If you only want a thumb drive, then use Angie's solution or buy a different model without U3.

    I've had a U3 for several years and I think it really has a place in a PC tech's toolkit. If you can find a useful application that is written to U3 specs, it is a great solution.

    Avast makes a U3 version of their virus scanner. A great way to be safe as you move from machine to machine.

    Thornsoft has a clipboard extender product called Clipmate that runs totally on the U3. I can take all of my favorite settings, passwords (encrypted), and all of my clips from machine to machine legally.

    How many times have you needed to load a helpful utility to a friend's or client's machine, use it, and then have to uninstall it before you leave to stay marginally legal. If you have U3 applications, all of the programs execute and all of the needed data is stored on the U3 drive and you are totally legal and it just saved you a bunch of time not having to install and uninstall the utility you need. And I don't have to run CCleaner to clean up any mess I've left behind, because there isn't any.

    The U3 concept is a very good one, but you need to read the U3 consortium's website info to really understand the ins and outs. If you haven't read the manual, don't complain when something goes wrong. I personally love my U3 and plan to buy a bigger version soon.

    Where else can you get truly portable and legal apps that work on any machine (with the correct OS) without having to go through the install process.

    I think there are partitioning apps out there such as HPs flash formatter that can clean off your thumb drive and U3 allows you to install the latest version of their software from the U3 website. I have not seen the CDFS issue, but usually flash drives want to use FAT32. As I understand it NTFS is not desirable on flash drives although I am using it on an SSD.
  25. I received a phone call to look at this page, because a person purchased a USB mem chip, and called me because it had something on it she couldn't under stand, she searched and eventually ended up on this page after she decided she wanted to remove it. I went over this page with her, I got a few laughs, and mainly I really want to open a few peoples eyes to reality.

    USB drives are not stable, and not fully reliable, though many will work for long periods, you WILL run into corrupt data. If you use them for encrypting your passwords and storing them, and don't maintain a written or secondary copy, one day you will lose it all.

    USB is in more accurate terms, SSD, meaning Solid State Drive, USB is just the connection type for that drive, and SSD handles data differently than a REAL hard drive. which has a FAR GREATER chance of recovering data with much easier methods than SSD.

    Personally, I SSD from my experience, is far less secure, deleting only moves the data, it doesn't record like a true hard disk, do a little research on data recovery seminars on youtube, you will find the more involved information you need to understand why SSD is so high risk you need to avoid it use for anything you may need a password for.

    walthy said:
    If you only want a thumb drive, then use Angie's solution

    Who's Angie? Your the only one on this page using that name in any sort of context. The lady who called me was stressed out trying to find this Angie persons post.

    walthy said:

    I've had a U3 for several years and I think it really has a place in a PC tech's toolkit.

    I wouldn't understand any system technician needing some program that is not legal to run on any machine he or she is working on.

    I am a well known tech, I do a lot of extensive recovery work, from personal to sensitive business systems. I keep only a few things, a good large hard drive to recover data to temporarily, several cd's and dvd's that are bootable with various custom OS's, and containing the softwares I use. AND it is fully legal to run these on any number of computers I choose, because these tools have special licenses by their given nature or they would be worthless.

    I despise U3, and all other similar types of programs, for their false security they promote.

    walthy said:

    Avast makes a U3 version of their virus scanner. A great way to be safe as you move from machine to machine.

    One thing I see you have right, Avast is a great company, I communicate with regularly, and maintaining a FREE version for home/personal users, which I fully promote, WITH the instruction to use it free, and learn it, and after you fully understand the way the software works purchase it to get the added benefits. I prefere Avast due to the speed of updated definitions in their data base, and their promise to have those updates online within 24 hours of a discovered virus being posted on ICAR or various other places.

    This is where my use of a simple USB drive comes in. I just keep a small one with simple formatting, and used as data only storage. I have several Freeware programs I will install for people and show them the basics to get them started.

    I have several versions for businesses I do the same with. Still with this there is no reason for me to obtain licenses other than what I have as all the stuff on my USB memory chip is freely downloadable, with trial period options.

    All of these I can easily replace, and I do retain 2 to 3 versions of everything on 1 USB chip.

    So if I ran U3 it would be IN MY FACE EVERY TIME I plugged it in a computer, and I DO NOT HAVE TIME for that junk.

    That is another reason, and in it's own is enough just like the false security. So each in it's own way is more than enough reason NOT to have any U3 or similar.

    walthy said:

    Thornsoft has a clipboard extender product called Clipmate that runs totally on the U3. I can take all of my favorite settings, passwords (encrypted), and all of my clips from machine to machine legally.

    If your a student, and needing to do work in several special programs, and choose to use a USB chip, you DO NOT need U3 to do it. Considering the fact that the schools have labs with the software needed, you only need to edit/save your files on your chip, do not allow local saves on the computer, such when you close it asks to save changes to, or save as project, just pay attention to where you are saving, and what you are saving, don't just click and run.

    walthy said:

    How many times have you needed to load a helpful utility to a friend's or client's machine,

    use it, and then have to uninstall it before you leave to stay marginally legal.

    I can't count weekly numbers, but daily for friends alone must be half a dozen roughly every day, I have hundreds of friends, I am very much involved in many things being a cancer survivor, biker, and retired, great grandfather, etc.

    Install, use, yes, Uninstall, no, legal yes. See above.

    walthy said:

    And I don't have to run CCleaner to clean up any mess I've left behind, because there isn't any.

    Why would anyone need to run CCleaner AFTER cleaning up some ones computer and fixing it? I leave everyone with maintenance software I have found to be most reliable of all available, or in some rare cases, easiest to use with some level of reliability, and all is either free or with trial periods.

    All the best companies offer these;

    FREE for home use.

    Trial for Business use.

    AND the big, and most IMPORTANT feature of all;

    A REMOVAL TOOL THAT WIPES IT ALL OUT. Not just a few files, like those antiviruses provided by comcast and a few others which are as bad as an infection, and many times even worse.

    But I like those too, YES, they give me WORK, they promise me they will mess up one computer after another and leave me an endless line of JOB SECURITY.

    walthy said:

    The U3 concept is a very good one,

    Almost, but not in reality...

    walthy said:

    but you need to read the U3 consortium's website info to really understand the ins and outs.

    Ah yes, probably the most BIASED representation of U3 you can find online, "The U3 Consortium Website"......

    walthy said:

    I think there are partitioning apps out there such as HPs flash formatter that can clean off your thumb drive and U3 allows you to install the latest version of their software from the U3 website. I have not seen the CDFS issue, but usually flash drives want to use FAT32. As I understand it NTFS is not desirable on flash drives although I am using it on an SSD.

    Hmmm, well, for starters, today there are not many systems running other than NTFS, if however, that is a concern to you, try partitioning and running a FAT32 and NTSF partitions.

    ALL windows OS systems contain partitioning tools, and M$ has a very extensive and well structured and easy for you to follow set of help and support files on the Technet website. If you are at this stage of need and digging this deep, you won't have any problems going there and do this yourself.


    OK, here it is.... now that I explained some facts, here is the easy way to remove U3....

    1. Make your self a good bootable disk, floppy is fine, such as the Windows Start-Up Disk, I like to keep an old w98se and wme pair of disks around to teach with, they contain all the tools you will ever need for this task, mainly FDISK, and FORMAT.

    2. Turn your computer off, plug in your usb chip (usb 1.0 for fat32, 2.0 for NTFS, but you will need an XP NTFS startup disk with FDISK and FORMAT on it) boot up the computer, tapping F8 untill you get the boot menu if needed to force it to boot from your startup disk you prepared.

    3. After booting run the FDISK utility, and you see 4 options, you can create logical, or extended, delete, and view. You will want to view to see what partitions you do have, then run the delete options, deleting any and all logical and extended partitions on the USB chip.

    4. View again to be sure there are NO partitions left on the chip.

    5. Create a Logical partition only, and use the full amount of space available.

    6. Format, and select your choice of full format.

    7. Exit.

    8. Remove the startup disk, if you wish you may remove the USB chip also, and reboot into your normal OS.

    9. Plug in the USB chip or open your file viewing program and inspect your USB chip size, and format, it should be ready, and empty, you should have only seen a USB mass storage device installation occur, no CRUZER or other devices, and you should also have seen an option to pick a way to view your new device.


    All I intend to do is help people avoid the scams by the big companies who use malicious methods to deceive you into using their malwares and keep paying into their system to monopolize YOU. It will stop you from learning, and advancing, you will become dependent on them for everything, their apps, if you call them by that CLICHE, and you will be their enslaved prisoner.


    I run about every OS you can imagine, and I have servers running 24 hours a day under different OS's and technology levels as far back as WinME on a simple 750 Mhz Duron and serving well effortlessly.

    It's not what you run, it's how you run it, how you maintain it, and what is available for it.

    Today there are 3 OS's that far surpass any others for opportunity with coices of available software that DOES run well, these are;

    XP Pro w/SP2 and up.

    Vista Ult x86 w/SP2 (to cure all the problems that scared people way from vista)

    Seven x86 (most versatile of all)

    With the x64 systems quickly moving up into a far better level of uses than previously known to home computing. As more and more programs are being updated to work well in the x64 environment.

    Unix would be next.

    Then Linux but very insecure do to it being tooled up by everyday programmers, and many wannabe programmers keeping the doors open for security breaches.

    I would be left without the low level of Linux on a bootable cd, for running under the security barriers to do recoveries. Linux doesn't understand Windows Security so it passes through a disk containing with very few limitations when running in a live ram drive configuration.

    MAC from experience, I call the current Dinosaur because of the lack of software available that runs very well, the cost is way over priced, ill equipped systems requiring expensive add on external parts, yes it can run SOME windows software, with programs like Bootcamp, but they eat up all your resources to run those leaving almost nothing for the windows software to run, and MS designed the software for MAC to run Windows stuff, NOT MAC.

    Why not just add a second hard drive, and install Windows, set up a dual boot option or use other means to choose which disk to boot from.


    I don't advertise, spam or try to drum business for myself, I have enough, I try to direct people to things that will enable them to learn right, and to efficiently manage their own systems.

    I am not associated with any company, I contract by the job and do it, and move on. I recommend how and what to learn for the best level of security, otherwise I am not doing unto others as would choose to have them do to me!

    Must have tools for every computer user, Avast5 from, Spybot Search and Destroy 6.2 from, Spywareblaster from, Malwarebytes Antimalware from, and Ad-Aware from, all of which maintain a FREE version continually updated, and that is important to do daily or weekly, and as you get to understand how to use them, and feel ready to get the extra advantage of features offered by obtaining a puchased license, I am sure you won't be disappointed.

    You MUST maintain very stringent concerns when locating the software, because the better they are, the more likely it is you can be deceived by some web site and download and install a counterfeit forgery with a very malicious intent.

    Ont he download pages, be carefull, many of the sites that mirror these to help relieve the download bandwidth issues contain ads, and MOST of those ads will will DECEIVE people who try to download one of these programs who think they are getting the program but actually getting something from an advertiser on the download sites page.

    Such as the case with MajorGeeks, or FileHippo, you need to be very diligent in reading that page, and just holding your mouse over the link to be sure it is the file your after, your staus bar on your browser is like your dash board on your car, cover it up and your sure to get a ticket have a serious breakdown.

    Also when you search, you will get the frauds, for instance, if you search for Ad-Aware, you will see things like AdWare, Ad-ware, ads-aware, etc. BE SURE LETTER FOR LETTER DOT FOR DOT.........


    I personally am tired of being physical with a computer, I don't like to have to sMACk and Toss it about, I prefer to use the BIG GUNS and just POINT AND CLICK....... 7 Ult x64, 4.6Gig Quad, Triple SLi. And know the Truth.

    Class is over, discussion settled, all questions answered, properly, your assignments are to go pick up a small cheap U3 USB chip and experiment with FDISK to understand what partitions are, and how to delete and create them. Then read up on formats and see which will suit your needs best.

    I was around here when Tom put his first web site up dealing with hardware, I watched it grow, and I have to admit the end of the first year it was at it's best.

    ABOVE ALL; Know that there is NO SUCH THING AS A SAFE PASSWORD, just that some may be safer than others, real words or abbreviations no matter what the length are as worthless and already chewed gum, numbers alone are only a slim shade above, randomized letters only are just another step up, randomized alphanumeric passwords a good step up if super long strings are used, such as odd amounts like 23 characters in length, and the more the better, but common numbers such as multiples of 10 reduce the security, alphanumeric with extended characters is the best you can hope for by any length, still the longer the better, with odd numbers of characters that don't match up to known computing multiples, ei 2, 4, 6, 8, 16, 24, 32, 48, 64 128, 256, 1024, 2048, etc etc etc... encrypted or not nothing is truly secure.

    Imagine a big circle of people holding hands in a gymnasium, every one is try to say their phone number to some one out loud on the other side of the circle, and 3 out of every 10 people in there are listening to hear phone numbers they want to snag, your security in this circle is the time space you put in between saying each number, but because all of you are facing each other and can see each others faces, you can watch for the number being said and hear it better...... No matter what the time space between those numbers is that you use....

    What we call those tools used to be those 3 out of 10 people are SNIFFERS, they sniff the hashes and record them from what ever parameters you give it to grab from, such as a given ip, then you run interpreters to break down those hashes, so you can see the encrypted ones, and then you use decryption methods and programs to break it open and get the data you are after, such as passwords, pins bank accounts etc etc, and that's how they rip you off...

    Can a Bank or online store legally claim they offer Secure transactions? Not exactly, they can't provide it, so how can they claim that they do? It's called DEREGULATION, it means they aren't governed by any laws but you are, because they are a big company and you are nobody.

    I hope this also helps protect many of you from the lies of this Mystical Babylon, the city that is not a city, with a multitude of amazement's and colors, which is truly the darkest alley of the world and it encompasses the entire earth, and it is the purest of all proof of the bible.
  26. Someone longer winded than me :wahoo: .

    Angie's post was in the queue just before mine, have no idea where it went.

    I would agree with the assessment of thumb drives, but certainly some are better built than others. You probably get what you pay for. Go with someone you trust and not just the special of the day.

    If you were to keep a "password safe" on the USB drive, I would hope you would back it up often to your main system.

    The thumbdrive as a tech toolkit is a great idea. You can keep links on the thumb drive to resources and include utilities that you might want to use on a client's machine. You can also create a bootable thumb drive to be able to access partition management or defragging software or just to be able to boot a non-bootable system. All I can say about the U3 concept is that there were people who ported their applications to be portable with the U3 drive. They must have seen a need for their software in that format.

    As for now, I haven't been able to reach at all. I wonder if U3 is now a dead product/platform.
  27. sorry that i did not read all posts. maybe i am now using a similar app as u3, which is called Prayaya V3. you can install it on a removalbe device, usb or any kind, then you can install directly any apps on it and make them portable, so i found it azaming and cool, so i share it hreerr....
  28. YES!!! for all the idiots that don't know, in my highschool, ever studen't got a free usb thumb drive so they could transfer homework and have no excuses. the students were saying that this annoying u3 launcher opens up, the school tech lady , said you can open the launch pad it self, go to settings , and uninstall it. and that solves the problem for any version of U3 , so ..... for all the idiots installing it on your pc... or trying to download fake programs... your idiots!

  29. U3 website is gone, but you can still get the remove program from sandisk here:
    "method 2 - download and run the U3 removal tool"

    if you already have U3 running, go to U3 in system tray, Settings>U3 launchpad settings>Uninstall>uninstall u3 launchpad
    conetopia, it's not that easy to find, so don't call everyone idiots...
  30. I have an 8 Gig San disk Flash drive, but I have read that if you remove the U3 software on it then the write speed of the drive is reduced. Can anyone comment on this further?
  31. clikthe little usb on the bottom left or the u3 button
    then clik launchpad settings
    onthe left it should say uninstall ; )

    Using the U3 Tool (downloaded into system32 to make it accessible to all folders in command prompt) I was able to repartition the 'cd drive' to 0MB and effectively wipe out all the u3 junk.

    After this i was able to connect it to a printer where i was not able to before. here is how did it:

    u3-tool 0.3 - U3 USB stick manager

    Usage: u3-tool [options] <device name>

    -c Change password
    -d Disable device security
    -D Dump all raw info(for debug)
    -e Enable device security
    -h Print this help message
    -i Display device info
    -l <cd image> Load CD image into device
    -p <cd size> Repartition device
    -R Reset device security, destroying private data
    -u Unlock device
    -v Use verbose output
    -V Print version information

    For the device name use:
    The drive letter of the device

    u3-tool -p 0 <ur usb drive letter without ":"> (eg. "u3-tool -p 0 i")

    NOTE: You will have to SET a password in order to be able to disable/change security and password. you can do this through the u3 launchpad from the auto run programs that the device forces apon you.
  33. I wrote a brief article on my blog which will hopefully help people remove U3 from their thumb drive. My article also addresses issues with U3 and Windows 7. Here's the link;

    How To Remove U3 From A SanDisk Cruzer Thumb Drive
  34. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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