Microsoft just upgraded you to 15GB of free OneDrive storage ; there’s room left in your Dropbox; you didn’t fill up Google Drive yet; and spare USB flash drives are piling up on your desk? What are you going to do with all that wasted storage space ?
How about “outsourcing” applications to this cloud space or to an idle USB flash drive? Portable apps come with many advantages, some of which we will highlight in this article.
Go Beyond Syncing Data
Syncing data between multiple devices is awesome. But you still need to install software to access the data. What if you treated computers as access points to your apps and data? Instead of having to customize each device you use with the software you need, just keep your applications and data in the same location, e.g. an external USB drive or in the Cloud, and access them from any PC.
If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 8 yet or want to sync desktop software, you can instead sync your portable apps and data.
Require No Admin Rights
Portable apps don’t need to be installed to your system and thus require no administrator rights, meaning you can run them on almost any computers. That said, EXE files may be blocked on library or work computers and we recommend respecting these settings.
Leave No Trace & Create No Junk
The beauty of portable apps is that because they work without installation, they also leave almost no trace. Most portable apps do, however, write data to a TEMP folder and may thus be blocked by an antivirus.
A user on the PortableApps.com forums recommends a workaround, which makes your portable apps use an alternative TEMP folder on the drive they’re running from. Write a simple batch file that will launch the app’s Start.exe file. Your Start.bat should read:
While the TEMP folder is necessary for most portable apps to run, they delete those files as soon as you close them.
Carry Your Digital Life In Your Pocket
By storing your favorite apps and data on a USB flash drive , you can literally carry your digital life in your pocket and turn any computer into your personal space. You can use a spare USB stick or invest in a fast USB 3.0 flash drive . USB drives have come a long way; storage sizes have increased significantly, while the form factor remains compact, and price per storage unit continues to drop.
It’s too bad that portable apps do not run on Android or iOS because you’re probably carrying that in your pocket already. You can, however, use your phone in USB drive mode and run portable apps off of it.
If you want to go all the way, you could even run a portable version of Windows from your USB drive.
Run Software From Shared Cloud Storage
You don’t need physical storage space to hold your portable apps. Anyone can get free virtual storage space in the Cloud .
After securing your share and dropping your apps, all you need to access them is a browser and the password in your head.
Where To Find Portable Apps?
MakeUseOf has compiled a list of portable apps that we consider the best. While you can download and install a selection of individual apps, you can also go with the NirLauncher package or the platform from PortableApps.com, which functions as a start menu for all your portable apps and lets you download new apps.
If a portable version of your favorite app does not exist, you can also try to create your own portable apps with tools like Cameyo.
Are Portable Apps All You Need?
Most of us already live in the Cloud, which is why Google Chromebooks work so well. Some tasks, however, are easier done with “proper” tools. Portable apps offer an alternative to installed software. Which non-portable programs are irreplaceable and under which conditions do you prefer portable apps?