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Tue 17 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

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Apps on a stick

All the necessary programs that are on your PC can, these days, be compressed into that little memory stick of yours. With memory sticks having increasing amounts of storage, they’re becoming ever more useful for storing all of your important programs. From your work, graphics and Internet programs to operating systems; you can have all on your memory stick.

Apps on a stick
OpenOffice Portable.
Apps on a stick
Mozilla ThunderBird Portable and Mozilla Sunbird Portable.
Apps on a stick
Sumatra PDF Portable.
Apps on a stick
GNUCash Portable.
Apps on a stick
GIMP Portable.
Apps on a stick
Firefox Portable.
Apps on a stick
FileZilla Portable.
Apps on a stick
Apps on a stick
ClamWin Portable.
Apps on a stick
Pidgin Portable.
Apps on a stick
CoolPlayer + Portable.
Apps on a stick
Cornice Portable.
Apps on a stick
Virtual Dub Portable.
Apps on a stick
Notepad ++.
Apps on a stick
Apps on a stick
Ubuntu Lite Operating System.

All the necessary programs that are on your PC can, these days, be compressed into that little memory stick of yours. With memory sticks having increasing amounts of storage, they’re becoming ever more useful for storing all of your important programs. From your work, graphics and Internet programs to operating systems; you can have all on your memory stick.

As a starting point, you can visit

. This is a useful resource that has numerous popular programs that have been turned into portable applications available for download. You can download the packages available online, or you can download programs individually one by one.

It’s merely a matter of downloading the packages to your portable drive and then running the programs. There are numerous advantages to running applications from your memory stick or portable drive. The first being ultra-portability, and the second being that if you use it on a another computer, you don’t leave a trace behind of your activities. It also doesn’t leave a registry behind, except for those automatically generated by Windows.

The reason for this is that the relevant application does not write to the Windows registry and, instead, stores settings in one or more configuration files, such as an INI file located in its directory. Portable applications can be run from USB drives, CDs, flash drives or even floppy disks.

Below is a list of some of what we think are the most useful programs for certain purposes.


OpenOffice Portable

This popular open source alternative to the Microsoft Office Suite offers programs that give you the same functionality as the latter. By downloading it off

, you can use a number of the OpenOffice applications. From Base, Calc, Draw, Writer, Math and Impress; the suite is fairly comprehensive. It is slightly more basic version of the Open Office Suite for the PC, but it is sufficient enough for your need to be on the go.

Mozilla ThunderBird Portable and Mozilla Sunbird Portable

To complement your OpenOffice portable suite, the Mozilla ThunderBird and Mozilla Sunbird programs offer you email and calendar clients to keep you in touch and organised. With Mozilla Thunderbird you can take your contacts and email connectivity with you wherever you go. The portable version leaves no information behind on the machine that you use it on. Mozilla Sunbird offers you a calendar and a To Do list feature.

Sumatra PDF Portable

This is a PDF reader that, like Adobe Acrobat Reader, gives you the ability to view your all important PDF documents. It’s also a slimmer version of the full version of the open source Sumatra PDF, and its simplistic approach means that the focus is on merely viewing PDFs as opposed to anything else.

GNUCash Portable

GnuCash Portable is the open source financial management software packaged as a portable app to help you take your financial data with you. It has all the same great features as most commercial money management programs and more. The program includes features such as Double-Entry Accounting, Expense Accounts, Mutual Fund Accounts, Small-Business Accounting, Transaction Matching, reports and graphs, and financial calculations.


GIMP Portable

GIMP is the open source graphics equivalent of the likes of Adobe Photoshop. The portable version seemingly has all the functionality that the full version has. The program allows you to do the basics when it comes to image manipulation, such as photo retouching, mass production image renderer and an image format converter.


Firefox Portable

Depending upon which version you download, you could be left with the portable versions of Firefox 3.0 or Firefox 3.5. The result is that you can take your bookmarks, extensions and passwords with you wherever you go without leaving trace behind.

FileZilla Portable

FileZilla is an FTP client that can help you connect to your remote servers to transplant of your relevant files and folders. You can take your server list and settings with you and it supports both downloads and uploads, timeout detection, firewall support, SOCKS4/5 and HTTP1.1 support, SSL, SFTP and more, all with an intuitive drag and drop interface.



XAMPP comes configured with the Apache server, PHP, MySQL and Perl for all your web-designing and web-development needs. XAMPP is a complete web, database and FTP server package for Windows that's ready to go in minutes and completely portable. The full XAMPP package includes: Apache, MySQL, PHP + PEAR, MiniPerl, OpenSSL, phpMyAdmin, XAMPP Control Panel, Webalizer, Mercury Mail Transport System, FileZilla FTP Server, SQLite, ADODB, Zend Optimizer and XAMPP Security.

ClamWin Portable

This software allows you to scan files on the go. The free anti-virus program for Windows features high detection rates for viruses and spyware. The software had regular virus database updates and a standalone virus scanner.

Pidgin Portable

Pidgin helps you organise many of your instant messaging platforms such as AOL, Yahoo, ICQ, Jabber and Gmail Chat into one medium.


CoolPlayer + Portable

This portable program allows you to listen to your music on the go. It includes a number of features such as support for standard, equalizer and shade mode (that fits into a Windows titlebar), an advanced playlist editor, Internet streaming, ID3 Multitagger, a file renamer, fast mp3 to wav converter, MAD mpeg engine, OGG Vorbis support, FLAC support, Winamp input plugins support, continuous play and 8 band convolution equalizer.


Cornice Portable

Cornice Portable is an image viewer app that includes features such as Detail and thumbnail view for images, image preview, automatic recognition of images, bookmarks, full-screen view, zooming and rotation, slideshow, good keyboard navigation, image loading from zip archives and EXIF data support.

Virtual Dub Portable

VirtualDub Portable is a video capture/processing utility. It lacks the editing power of a general-purpose editor such as Adobe Premiere, but is streamlined for fast linear operations over video. It has batch-processing capabilities for processing large numbers of files and can be extended with third-party video filters. VirtualDub is mainly geared toward processing AVI files, although it can read (not write) MPEG-1 and also handle sets of BMP images. There is a note about this program according to the Portable Apps website: "Codecs Note: VirtualDub uses a combination of plugins for codecs (see the VirtualDub Portable Plugins Pack linked at the top of this page) and codecs on the local machine, so if you wish to use a non-standard codec like DivX ."or XVID, you'll need it installed.


Notepad ++

Notepad ++ has features like: syntax highlighting and syntax folding (C, C++, HTML, ASP, Java, Pascal, CSS and more), user defined syntax highlighting, auto-completion, multi-document, regular expression, search/replace supported, full drag ‘n' drop supported, zoom in and zoom out, multi-language environment supported, brace and indent guideline highlighting and macro recording and playback.



7-Zip is a file archiver (compression) utility for Windows with a great array of features including: High compression ratio in new 7z format with LZMA compression, the ability to pack / unpack: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR, unpack only: RAR, CAB, ISO, ARJ, LZH, CHM, Z, CPIO, RPM, DEB & NSIS, for ZIP and GZIP formats 7-Zip it provides compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip, self-extracting capability for 7z format, powerful file manager and localisations for 63 languages.

Ubuntu Lite Operating System

Apart from having all the portable versions of your programs installed on your computer, you can also get portable versions of operating systems on your flash drive.

offers a fairly archaic version of a Mac OS, but there are other places you can visit to get hold of portable versions of the Ubuntu OS. One of those resources being the Ubuntu Lite version, which we took a look at. You can get a slightly more fuller version, but it is bigger in size and repeats many of the programs that have already been mentioned above, such as Firefox, GIMP and Pidgin. Many might question what the point is of using an OS on your portable drive, but it merely acts as an interface upon which you can manage your drive.

Getting the portable OS going on your drive is as simple as downloading the zipped file, extracting it to a folder on your computer and activating it. When testing it, it did load up quite slow from our drive. But if this works, it could be a useful organiser of all your information.

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