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Free Portable Applications for USB Flash Drives

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Programs That You Can Run from A Portable Drive Without Installing The Program

What A Portable Application Is
A portable application (also called portable app, pendrive app) is a computer program that runs on a computer without installing it to the operating system (Windows) of the computer that it is running on. Portable applications are loaded onto a USB flash drive and not onto the hard drive of the computer that will run them. When the flash drive is plugged into a computer, you browse to the flash drive, click on the appropriate file for the portable application then run it. Many of the portable applications are full-featured software suites that are available online for free. Some of the applications available are picture editing programs, office Suite that includes a word processor, spread sheet, presentation, and database programs, games and more.

What A USB Flash Drive Is
A USB flash drive is small storage device for digital media. A USB flash drive is also called thumb drive, pen drive, portable drive, jump drives, fishsticks, Cruzer, TravelDrive, ThumbDrive, and Disgo. Amount of storage varies from 128MB to 64GBs (File Sizes Explained). Windows Operating Systems generally recognize these USB devices as soon as they are plugged into a USB port. Two USB flash drives are pictured on the right but they also come in novelty shapes such as LEGO blocks but also they have been incorporated into pens and watches. SanDisk Cruzer flash drives come with built in programs with their U3 system. Another nice feature of the U3 system is the ability to password protect your flash drive.

The Pros and Cons of Portable Applications for USB Flash Drives

  • If you are going to use someone else's computer, you can run the programs you may need without installing software on their computer. Some companies do not allow you to run programs on their computers though. Either they put this in their acceptable use policy or they disable the ability to use a flash drive. Be sure to check the acceptable use policy for the computer you are using before using portable applications.
  • Most portable applications are free, open source software and they are equivalent to the expensive software but technical support is limited.
  • The use of a flash drive in computers can transmit viruses. Keep that virus software up to date and scan for viruses often. (You can even get a fully functioning virus scanner portable application that will scan the computer for viruses)
  • Flash drives are easily lost because they are so small. If you keep important documents that you don't want others to see, be sure to encrypt or password protect the documents. Also be sure to keep backups of the information on your flash drive.

Where To Get Portable Applications for USB Flash Drives
Portable applications are freely available online. Some of my favorite portable programs are:
PortableApps Suite
You can download the installer and select what you want to include in the suite. After you install it on your flash drive, you get an interface that looks a lot like Windows start menu, and you can select what program you want to use. This is one of the easiest ways to set up and use portable applications and rivals the U3 system from SanDisk. You can get Open Office which is a free office suite of software including word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and database programs. This program will open most of Microsoft's Office files and save them in that format. Also available is FireFox Internet browser, games, and an email program.

Programs that don't require a suite and run by clicking the exe file:
IrfranView is a photo editor that will open, edit and save images in almost any file format. has a pile of portable applications.
100 Applications for Windows and Mac

Add more programs to your SanDisk U3:
Portable Application Add Ons For SanDisk U3

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