Thursday, January 3, 2008

Portable Apps

I own an external hard drive and since I have to help quite often kin and kith with their computer problems I thought it would be nice to have the most important applications with me. I looked therefore for a possibility to put applications on the external hard drive in order to run them without installation. After looking around the internet I found a very interesting tool which is called Portable Apps. It is installed on the external hard disk and an autorun mechanism is added in order to start it when the hard disk is plugged in. The Portable Apps tool adds an icon to the systray (or better notification area) which opens a menu which looks like the windows menu when clicking on start.

This menu now provides access to all the different applications which are present on the external hard drive. By selecting one of them the according application is started without the need of any installation on the host computer. This has the advantage that the registry of the host computer is not affected and also no hard disk space is required. Additionally to the applications there are folders to easily access documents, music, pictures or videos.

Additionally it provides a backup function to easily back up or restore files on the external hard drive as well as a search functionality to search the drive, the computer or the web. At the bottom of the menu the free disk space is shown.

The list of applications in the list can be extended as needed. For some applications there exists a “Portable Apps version” which can be downloaded and installed on the homepage of portable apps but it is also possible and very easy to integrate other applications. As I tried to integrate different applications I can say that applications which do not require an activation key can be added to the list of applications because the activation key is often stored inside the registry and requires an installation routine. The most easy way to add a new application is to download it as archive without installer. It can then be put into the “PortableApps” folder on the external hard disk. The only thing to know is that in the menu there will be shown all exe files which are on the following path: Z:\PortableApps\application folder\application.exe; the name of the exe file is listed in the list of applications. Some system related applications such as firewalls can not be made portable because they have to directly interact with the underlying system and require an installation.

A quite large and good list of portable applications can be found here. From that site I took most of the applications that are present on my application list.

After I installed all applications that I need on the external hard drive I started to miss them when the external hard drive was not plugged in. I simply had to copy the “PortableApps” folder and the file “StartPortableApps.exe” to my local hard disk and it works fine. I like this because for example all of the sudden I get an Open Office file and to open it I do not want to install Open Office on my computer. So I start portable apps and there I have Open Office available and I can open, modify and save Open Offices files without having to install it.

Her now a list of applications that are present on my application list:

7-Zip Portable: utility for manipulating archives

Abakt: simple backup utility with many configuration options

Auto-Backup Win: a tool to backup all important files of a windows installation such as activation files, Outlook Express E-Mails, My Documents, and many others…

CCleaner: a tool to clean the registry, the hard disk and the autostart entries

CDex Application: a tool to rip an audio cd to mp3 files

ClamWin Portable: a portable virus scanner

Data Recovery Application: a tool to recover deleted data

File Assasin: a tool to delete locked files from the system; useful to remove trojans

Firefox Portable: the successful internet browser Firefox

Gaim Portable: instant messenger which supports different protocols

JkDefrag GUI version: a very good defragmenter application

Notepad++ Portable: text editor which provides syntax highlighting for many different programming languages

Open Office Portable: open source office suite

ReNamer: a tool to rename files and folder according to rules

Safarp: simple and fast uninstall utility which makes the slow windows uninstall dialog obvious

Siginet’s Driver Grabber: a tool to backup all installed drivers; useful when formatting the hard drive and reinstalling windows

SilentNight Micro Burner: a tool to burn cd’s and dvd’s

StartUp Lite: a tool which checks the autostart entries and makes suggestions which entries can be removed in order to accelerate the windows start

Sudoku Portable: sudoku game to pass the time

Sumatra PDF Portable: simple PDF reader

System Information for Windows: a very good tool to get information about hardware and software; provides additional tools such as uncovering password fields,…

Thunderbird Portable: very good e-mail client

Toucan: a tool for advanced users to synchronise, backup and encrypt their data

VLC Media Player Portable: a media player which plays most of the actual video and audio formats

XP-AntiSpy: a tool which makes some settings to prevent windows from “talking” with Microsoft

Related links:
Homepage Portable Apps
Homepage The Portable Freeware

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