Portable software

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At work, I'm a nomad. Sometimes, I'm at the office but mostly I'm on the road. Working at a customer's bureau, I use intermittent 'my' work laptop or a desktop PC of my host. According to security and support issues, one is not allowed to install software at those machines. But what if I need certain software?

My solution is using portable software. According to Wikipedia:
"A portable application is a program designed to run on a compatible computer without being installed in a way that modifies the computer's configuration information."
So, this kind of software doesn't change the Windows registry for example. It stores its configuration in the user profile.

There are several methods for using these applications. The first is carrying a simple USB stick. The software  is installed on c.q. copied to the thumb drive and can be used from a guest PC if a port is available. Don't forget to mount and unmount the drive correct. There's a nice guide about using USB sticks at MakeUseOf.com.

The second method is to copy the programs to the guest PC. I usually create a directory Portable Applications in the user profile and start using the software.

Third and last is a nice one! Put the apps in the cloud. Personally I use a Dropbox. As the Dropbox folder gets synchronised accross several computers, one can use the same software at several machines. Even with identical configuration and history. However, this method will only work if one is allowed to install the Dropbox cliĆ«nt.

For my work, I use Office intensive. As this is normally provided, I don't need a portable versions of a suite like LibreOffice. To concentrate, I like listening to music. Therefore I always carry VLC with me. Along with some music of course. ;-)

Furthermore I use Dia to create process flow and organisation charts and occasionaly IrfanView. My PDF Viewer of choice is Foxit Reader as it's much lighter and faster dan the Acrobat Reader.

My passwords are stored in KeePass. For security reasons I store its database in a compressed archive with a password created by 7-Zip. I browse the web using a heavily tweaked Firefox or Iron. Both with the Readability add on and several bookmarklets.

Last but not least, I try to prevent RSI by using Workrave which I reviewed in the past. As I told earlier, I launch applications with Executor. For those who don't like application launchers, there are some portable software suites available. Some examples of these are LiberKey, PortableApps and winPenPack. They include menu's and the like.

Do you use portable software?


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