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'Portable' Software Applications


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How many of you using Windows OS have found yourself having to re-install it at some point?


It's bad enough re-installing Windows XP or whatever, but then there is the Service Packs and all the Security updates that need to be downloaded and installed.


If you made a 'back-up' for 'resoration purposes, then you have all the updates along with the relevant drivers and the Software applications re-installed.


Perhaps some took the time and trouble to make 'Slip-steamed versions of their OS installation disks and added in the Service Packs, the Security Updates, the required Drivers, and perhaps software applications as well.


It's the Software applications that are the real pain in the ass to reinstall.

To overcome the need to reinstall such Windows applications like Browser, E-mail, better firewall, Antivirus etc, I have started building up a collection of 'Portable Applications' that can be installed independently of Windows on a different Partition or a 'Flash Drive' and transported to whatever PC or Laptop you want to use such Application on.


With cost of Flash Drives increasing to 16GB and the price coming down, it is now practical to have all your essential applications and your document Files on such flash Drive, and simply plug in to a working Windows PC.


For those who might not know what a 'Portable application is, here is some information that should educate you:-



A portable application (portable app) is a computersoftware program that is able to run independently without the need to install files to the system it is run upon. They are commonly used on a removable storage device such as a CD, USB flash drive, flash card, or floppy disk. Portable apps should not be confused with software portability where software allows its source code to be compiled for different computing platforms. Portable applications can be run on any computer system with which they are compatible but typically require a specific operating system such as Microsoft Windows XP or above, certain version of a Linux distro, etc.Portable software is typically designed to be able to store its configuration information and data on the storage media containing its program files.





Portable Windows applications

A portable application does not leave its files or settings on the host computer. Typically this means that the application does not write to the Windows registry or store its configuration files (such as an INI file) in the user's profile; instead, it stores its configuration files in the program's directory. Another requirement, since file paths will often differ on changing computers due to variation in Windows drive letter assignments, is the need for applications to store them in a relative format. While some applications have options to support this behavior, many programs are not designed to do this. A common technique for such programs is the use of a launcher program to copy necessary settings and files to the host computer when the application starts and move them back to the application's directory when it closes.


An alternative strategy for achieving application portability within Windows, without requiring application source code changes, is application virtualization: An application is "sequenced" or "packaged" against a runtime layer that transparently intercepts its file system and registry calls, then redirects these to other persistent storage without the application's knowledge. This approach leaves the application itself unchanged, yet portable.


The same approach [1] is used for individual application components: run-time libraries, COM components or ActiveX, not only for the entire application. As a result, when individual components are ported in such manner they are able to be: integrated into original portable applications, repeatedly instantiated (virtually installed) with different configurations/settings on the same operating system (OS) without mutual conflicts. As the ported components do not affect the OS-protected related entities (registry and files), the components will not require administrative privileges for installation and management.


Microsoft saw the need for an application-specific registry [2] for its Windows operating system as far back as 2005. It eventually incorporated some of this technology, using the techniques mentioned above, via its Application Compatibility Database [3] using its Detours [4] code library, into Windows XP. It did not, however, make any of this technology available via one of its system APIs.



dot.gifPStart V2.11 update.gif

Suggested by Tony Chard - Added on 17 Aug 2006

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dot.gifthumbsup.gif thumbsdn.gif Category: Productivity - Program Launchers (45)

Synopsis: PStart is a small program launcher that sits in the system tray. You can define a hierarchical list of menus for launching applications and documents, much like the Windows "Start" menu. Unlike other program launchers, PStart automatically uses relative paths when adding applications and documents, so portability is automatically preserved when changing drive letters as long as the applications and documents are located in the same drive as PStart.


Here are some Portable Applications Lists:-















Portable Software Applications that run from USB

Freeware Portable Software you can Carry on a USB Flash Drive






Portable Software Sections

Edited by David_LivinginTalisay
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