About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 26, 2010

Portable Programs

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:33 am

Several of you continued the USB line of thought from the last column and mentioned portable applications.  I thought I had written about these years ago.  However, after a search of over 750 columns I’ve written I realized that I had not mentioned them, so here we go.

A quick definition is needed here for what portable applications are and how are they used.

A portable application is a “stand alone” program that does not need to be installed on a computer’s hard drive.  When you install a regular program there are files that are written all over your computer.  For instance, many entries may be made in your windows’ registry file along with other folders somewhere else.  A portable application is installed in one main folder and no other entries are written anywhere else on the system.  This is like a step back in time.  In the DOS days and the originating days of windows all programs were installed like this; however, things are now different.

The first and predominate portable applications site is called, appropriately enough, “Portable Apps“.  If you go there you can install the basic program on your USB stick and it will provide a lot of good “little” programs.  It creates a menu system so that when you plug your USB stick in it will pop up and you can run your portable applications from there.

There are three different Portable Apps from which to choose.  The differences are in size and  what programs you get with each one.  The first choice, “Platform Only” will only install the basic program.  I don’t find this one to be very useful.  It  is only 1.3MB in size but it doesn’t do much to help you out.

The other two installs are called “Suite Lite” and “Suite Standard”.  These two are respectivelyimage 150MB and 355MB in size.  The minimum recommended sizes for your USB device is 256MB and 512MB, again depending on which version you choose.

Each of the larger versions include most of the Mozilla apps like the FireFox browser, Thunderbird email, a messaging program, an antivirus program and several other apps.  The difference between the two is that the larger version includes Open Office Portable version.  That is an excellent substitute for Microsoft Office on a budget…it is free as are all of these apps.  You can look for other portable programs online too.

Why would you want to install these or a USB stick?  You go to a friend’s house and want to do some work on your newspaper column or your personal budget.  You can perform everything you need to on your USB stick after plugging it into their computer.  None of your information is left behind on their computer since you have used your portable “system” to do your work and store your files.  You can check your email, surf the web, etc. without leaving behind any of your private information on someone else’s system.

It provides a good use for your USB thumb drive other than using it for storage only.  There are other portable app sites online – Google for them.  Even so; “Portable Apps” is the first, and in my opinion the best.

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