PortableApps – Portable Software in a USB Drive

Portable applications are convenient to carry, easy to use self contained applications which does not need to be installed on to the computer. You can carry those software around with you on a portable device such as USB flash drive, portable hard drive or iPod, and use on any Windows computer.

Portable applications must not require any kind of formal installation onto a computer’s permanent storage device to be executed, and can be stored on a removable storage device such as USB flash drive, enabling it to be used on multiple computers. The application settings are stored with, and can be carried around with, the software. Truly portable applications do not add anything to the local disk or registry. Portable applications leaves a zero or near-zero footprint on any PC it’s run on after being used. When you plug the portable device on to a computer, you will have access to your software and personal data just as you would on your own PC.


Portable applications/software uses a launcher for each portable program. The launcher takes care of starting the programs with settings from the USB drive, and saving the data back to it, keeping your privacy.

With Portable applications on your thumb drive, you can carry your web browser with bookmarks, calendar with appointments, email client with contacts and settings, instant messenger with buddy list, office suite along with your documents and presentations, antivirus program and other computer utilities, and more.

There are many portable application suites such as U3 and PortableApps.com available for Windows Desktops, which provides the portable platform. I personally prefer PortableApps.com. The website has a very friendly user community, in case you need any assistance. PortableApps.com provides an open platform which is 100% free to use, free to copy and free to share. The 1MB PortableApps.com Platform is just 1MB in size which provides the basic platform for the Portable Apps. Do you have an 513MB USB drive? Then you can have very good collection of portable applications on your wallet or key chain!
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PortableApps.com Suite™ contains the basic platform and a great collection of portable open applications including a Firefox browser, Thunderbird email client, OpenOffice.org suite, Sunbird calendar/scheduler, Pidgin instant messaging client, ClamWin antivirus, CoolPlayer+ audio player, sudoku game, KeePass password manager, Sumatra PDF reader, minesweeper clone, backup utility and integrated menu, all pre-configured to work portably. Just push your portable device on to a computer and you’re ready to start working on your applications.

All versions of the PortableApps.com Suite include the integrated PortableApps.com Menu and the PortableApps.com Backup utility along with a set of custom icons, an autoplay configuration, folders and a quick start shortcut.

Each of the Portable Applications have a launcher bundled in it which leaves no personal information behind on the machine you run it on, so you can take your favourite browser along with all your favourite bookmarks and extensions with you wherever you go.

I have been a PortableApps user for sometime. The only installations I did on my laptop are AVG Free 8.0 anti virus, ZoneAlarm ForceField and CC PDF Converter. The rest of the applications are open source and portable running off my local hard disk. I do have a copy of all those portable programs in the USB Flash Drive (SanDsk Micro 8GB), ready to run from any computer. I have placed an link to the PortableAppsMenu in the Windows startup so that I can easily click and launch the portable apps.

Last month I screwed up my Vista booting while trying to configure Ubuntu. I simply reinstalled Vista, installed AVG and ZoneAlarm, and copied the Portable Apps from my USB and I am all set with my own application configuration, without anymore installations.

I use the following applications from PortableApps.com. You can see the complete list at PortableApps.com Applications page.

Mozilla Firefox Portable

Firefox Portable is a full featured latest version of Mozilla Firefox web browser, currently 3.0.1. This leaves no personal information behind the computer. You can carry your bookmarks, history, extensions and saved passwords with you wherever you go.

Mozilla Thunderbird Portable

Mozilla Thuderbird Portable, the portable version of the popular email client Mozilla Thunderbird, you can take your email, address book and account settings with you.  If you prefer using an email client, carry Portable Thunderbird with you. I don’t use a client nowadays, happy with Google Apps. But I do use the client version as an offline backup of my emails. I hope to even get rid of that when Google come up with GMail Offline, using Google Gears.

Mozilla Sunbird Portable

Sunbird Portable is a standalone calendaring and task management application built on the same technology as the Firefox web browser. It’s easy to use and makes keeping your calendar and tasks up-to-date a breeze. You can take your schedule and to do lists with you wherever you go.

OpenOffice.org Portable

OpenOffice.org Portable is the OpenOffice complete office suite, which includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing package and database. You can take all your documents and everything you need to work with them wherever you go.

Pidgin Portable

Pidgin Portable (formerly Gaim) is a multi-protocol instant messaging client that works with AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! and more. You can log into multiple networks all with the same program. All your IM settings and buddy lists are self-contained, so it leaves no personal information behind on the machine you run it on. Pidgin Portable supports the two most popular encryption plugins for Pidgin, packaged as portable installers that automatically work with Pidgin Portable.

Notepad++ Portable

Notepad++ Portable is the handy Notepad++ text editor with great features.

FileZilla Portable

FileZilla Portable is the popular FileZilla FTP client packaged as a portable app. FileZilla supports resume on both downloads and uploads, timeout detection, firewall support, etc. with an intuitive drag and drop interface.

GIMP Portable

GIMP Portable, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, is an open source image editing package for Windows for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

InfraRecorder Portable

InfraRecorder Portable is a free CD/DVD burning solution for Microsoft Windows. You can cerate custom data, audio and mixed-mode projects and record them to physical discs as well as disc images. InfraRecorder supports recording to dual-layer DVDs. Using InfraRecorder you can erase rewritable discs, record disc images (ISO and BIN/CUE), create disc copies, on the fly, import session data from multi-session discs and add more sessions to them, and save audio and data tracks to files (.wav, .wma, .ogg, .mp3 and .iso)

JkDefrag Portable

JkDefrag Portable is an easy to use fast disk defragmenter and optimizer. Its a lightweight application capable of defragmenting very full harddisks or defragment very large files.

KeePass Password Safe Portable

KeePass Portable is a open source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES-256 and Twofish).

Lightscreen Portable

Lightscreen Portable is an easy to use screenshot application for creating screenshots of the current desktop or parts of it. You can save the screenshot’s wherever you desire on your portable device. You can also save your screenshots in many formats (PNG, JPEG, GIF) and supports delayed screenshots.

CoolPlayer+ Portable

CoolPlayer+ Portable is an easy to use audio player with a simple User Interface. It has an advanced Playlist editor, supports Internet streaming, ID3 Multitagger, File Renaming, fast mp3->wav converter, MAD mpeg engine, OGG Vorbis support, Winamp input plugins support, etc..

VLC Media Player Portable

VLC Media Player Portable is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

AudioCity Portable

Audacity Portable is an easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows. You can record live audio on the go. You can convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs. You can edit, splice, and mix sounds together or change the speed or pitch of a recording.

BonkEnc Portable

BonkEnc Portable is an open source audio extractor, encoder, and converter. You can use BonkEnc to extract audio files from CDs, encode and re-encode audio files to a lower bitrate, and convert audio files to and from various formats, including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MP4/AAC and FLAC

PNotes Portable

PNotes Portable is an easy to use sticky note manager with group notes, font effects within individual notes and words, customisable alarms.

Sumatra PDF Portable

Sumatra PDF Portable is a slim, free, open source PDF viewer for Windows with a minimalistic design. It’s small and starts up very fast.

7-Zip Portable

7-Zip Portable is a file archiver utility for Windows with high compression ratio in new 7z format with LZMA compression. For ZIP and GZIP formats 7-Zip provides compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip. 7-ZIP can create self-extracting capability for 7z format with a powerful File Manager.

ClamWin Portable

ClamWin Portable is a Free Antivirus for Microsoft Windows with a graphical user interface to the Clam AntiVirus engine. ClamWin has high detection rates for viruses and spyware. You can download regular virus database updates. ClamWin Free Antivirus is a standalone Virus Scanner and does not include an on-access real-time scanner. So you need to manually scan a file in order to detect a virus or spyware.

XAMPP Server

XAMPP is an integrated server package of Apache, MySQL, PHP and Perl that all run from a removable drive. Everything is preconfigured and ready to go just by unzipping or installing it.

XAMPP easily integrates with the PortableApps.com Suite by using the XAMPP Launcher and installing XAMPP in the root directory of your portable device.

I have configured the XAMPP Server successfully to run from my USB drive. I now carry the server and my development websites/blogs in my thumb drive ready to work from anywhere. If you come across any issue and need further assistance, contact me.

Websites Offering Applications in PortableApps.com Format

PortableApps.com is the primary website for legal open source portable applications.

The following sites also provides software confirming to the PortableApps format. You may need to check the legacy of such software before downloading and using them.

  1. http://portableappz.blogspot.com/
  2. http://yerdenizden.blogspot.com/
  3. http://www.portablefreeware.com/

4 Comments

  1. How can i install plugin’s for the portable applications like, photopshop,
    Dreamweaver, Premiere, after effects of cs2/cs3/cs4 and on 3D Max, Maya
    thanks

  2. Another excellent and very helpful article. I’m all fired up now to get into portable tools. I’m also very keen to support open source software. It’s always encouraging to find out how others are successfully using these things and what they find worthwhile. Portability is the name of the game these days. Thanx again.

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