By Peter Daley
Carry all your files and programs you need in your pocket, and do everything you need on the cheap. Some may see this as free loading, but why spend money on something, when you can use someone else's legally?
Portableapps are small programs designed to work directly from a flash drive and are 100% free to use, copy and share. All you need is a half decent flash drive/memory stick that's big enough to hold all the files you need. The faster the flash drive the better. All flash drives are not made equal. Corsair make a GT series of Voyager flash drives, which are very fast and robust. OK, if you're slumming it, any flash drive will do. Once you've decided on which flash drive to use go to
Here you can download a broad selection of useful applications that are designed to work directly from a flash drive, CD or external drive. Most of you will probably want the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email program, Clamwin anti-virus program and OpenOffice or Abiword word processor. This selection of programs will do most of what the average computer user would need.
If you just need a good word processor, and don't need an Office suite, you will find portableapps Abiword a fine choice. It will save room on the flash drive, because it is much smaller than OpenOffice, plus in it's settings you can set it to compress all the documents you create.
Once you have selected and loaded all the Portableapps you want, you can now free load to your hearts content. So when you are travelling, (no more problems with airport security), or are visiting friends, you just plug the flash drive into their Internet connected computer, and run Portableapps programs from the flash drive. It works independently so as you move from computer to computer, all your emails, addresses, bookmarks, documents, photos, music and preferences, are stored and run directly from the flash drive.
(Note: Always virus check any files you bring across from the host computer with your up to date Portableapps Clamwin anti-virus. You don't know what the host computer has caught.)
Be careful and make sure you don't keep any sensitive info on the drive unless the drive provides you with a good security system. Some Flash drives have password protection and encryptions facilities, most don't. Small and portable, like a mobile phone, means you can put it down and walk off and forget it. A good idea is to physically put your phone number on it, but no other contact details, in case you mislay it.
For portability you can alternatively use a mini Linux Distro loaded onto a flash drive. Here are a couple, and there are many more.
You can get all of the Portableapps programs, plus more, with one of these mini Linux distros. Boot (Start) the computer from the Linux flash drive, and this will keep your computer session completely separated from the hosts computer, which may have malicious content on it. Once you have finished and shut down the host computer, your flash drive is clean from possible cross infection. More skills are involved in using a USB Bootable Linux drive, but it is definitely safer. I have a single flash drive that works both systems. I can start the computer as a Linux session, or opt to use the Portableapps session.
© 2008 Peter Daley
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