Over the years, Firefox has kept gaining users and respected by many. First applauded for taking on the “big guy” Internet Explorer by Microsoft, it was soon also appreciated for its features. It has brought many people tabbed browsing and a plugin structure.
Doing my research for this post (yes, it’s almost like real journalism here at MakeUseOf), I was surprised to read the first version (1.0) was released only five years ago, in November of 2004. Even with the recent extra competition brought on by Chrome from Google, Internet Explorer and Opera, it kept gaining popularity. Mozilla Firefox now has a market share of about 22%.
Alright, enough with the history lesson. Many people like to take Firefox with them on a USB drive to college or work so that they can use their personalized settings and plugins. A lot of these places still use Internet Explorer 6 or something like that, so using a portable version of Firefox seems like the smart thing to do. Installing is easy when you use the portable version PortableApps, but updating Firefox portable is not so easy. If you don’t have a portable version of Firefox installed yet, read this article on how to turn your USB drive into a fully functional PC or just go to www.portableapps.com to install it. But if you want to update a portable Firefox app, you can’t just click the auto-updater button that pops-up when there’s a new version. You have to install a normal version of Firefox, with some special settings. Here’s how.
Download the regular setup file
You can download the regular setup file from Mozilla. The latest version at the time of writing is 3.5.2. So if you have a previous one, it’s wise to update because Mozilla keeps plugging security holes all the time.
Start the installation
Double-click the file you have just downloaded. Click ‘Next’ in the first window. Now pay attention as it goes a little differently than usual. In the second screen, select “Custom” and deselect the check-box next to “Use Firefox as my default web browser”.
Click ‘Next’ to continue.
In this screen, click “Browse” to search for the folder where your portable Firefox is installed on your USB drive. Select the “DefaultData\Firefox” folder so the location ends with “\FirefoxPortable\DefaultData\Firefox”. This way, you overwrite the files from the current installation but keep all your settings and plugins. Click ‘OK’ and ‘Next’.
In the next screen, deselect the options to create icons since you already have icons from the previous installation. After this, you can click ‘Next’ to check the summary and press “Install” to do just that.
There you have it, your portable Firefox is updated, all secure and future-proof. Until the next update anyway. Click “Finish” with the checkmark in place to check out the newest version of the open-source browser. You can take Firefox with you to your school or office. It’s also a great way to try out the newest alpha versions without endangering your stable version. You can find the latest test versions here, but as Mozilla themselves claim it “might delete all your files and cause your computer to burst into flames”.
If you’re new to the portable apps, I recommend looking around at their site Portableapps.com. There is a suite of the most used software that you can start with. Some apps to check out are OpenOffice.org Portable, Pidgin Portable and FileZilla Portable. Here are some more portable app suggestions.
Do you use portable apps? How do you update them to the latest versions? Share your technique in the comments.