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Portable Apps On USB - Wave Of The Future?

Feb 23, 2008
Portable Apps are a new class of software that is filling a necessary gap. What is a Portable App? It's a software program that can run off a USB device, often without any interaction of the operating system of the computer. Some still require a little help, depending on the nature of the application, but many can run with or without a specific OS present (like Windows).

Laptops and smart phones are great portable devices, but they can't match a flash drive the size of a pack of gum. As long as there's going to be a computer to hook into where you're going, portable apps can run any of your favorite software. And with the proper security installed, you can insure your data is safe.

What kind of software is available in Portable Apps? Just about everything any user could want. You have complete office suites (compatible with Microsoft Office), graphics software, utilities for data recovery, virus protection, spyware search and destroy, and even hard drive rescue software. All run right from a USB device, whether it's a full size hard drive or smaller Flash Drive.

Most of these portable apps come in small footprints too. My collection uses less than 40 megabytes and can do just about anything I could on a full size computer. I have bigger data files than many of these applications. Even a small 256 megabyte flash drive can easily hold everything you need.

Who thought up the idea to run applications off of a USB device without using the Operating System? The software developers themselves. They tweaked and adjusted the applications to run without any interaction with any operating system to expand their markets. Some applications do need some operating system due to the nature of the software, like the office applications. But most of the utilities don't need any help from the OS.

I've even seen someone rig Windows XP to run from a USB, why I'm not sure but I guess he had his reasons. You definitely can boot from a USB device if your computer allows that type of booting (some older units don't have the bios or internal software to permit boot from USB devices). Bootable USB devices can be a little tricky to setup but it's really not much different than booting from a disk or CD.

If you want to boot from USB devices, you will need to create the boot files on the USB device and make sure that your computer allows booting from a USB device. This comes in very handy when you are trying to recover data, fix hard drives, remove a nasty root virus, or test hardware on any computer.

Even with the Portable Apps that need an operating system, you can carry more than one version to allow you to use any popular OS like Windows, Linux, Leopard, or what ever. I've also seen where a knowledgeable technician can break down the installation of many applications and create a portable version. But you need to consider the software licensing when doing that type operation. Some software vendors do not allow it. You also need to make sure any registry entries are removed when the application shuts down.

One of the factors that motivated this development of Portable Apps is that the software vendors and users really don't care what Operating System they use. The software vendors don't want to be tied to any OS and the users want the freedom of choice. These two factors will not go away any time soon and the market will dictate the last word.

If you're a road warrior or a person on the go, these Portable Apps could make your life a little easier. The flexibility, wide variety, convenience, and mobility are all attractive features.
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Want to learn more about Portable Apps? See our Special Collection, Click here for more info: Portable Apps - USB Style
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