Best Free Portable Applications

Introduction
 

Portable AppsThis list provides a collection of portable apps from across Gizmo's Freeware and other sites. Portable freeware is an amazing development and is forcing software vendors to adjust their wasteful ways.

They reduce problems with uninstalling software (you just delete them and don't have to worry about failed installs or incomplete uninstalls), they allow for extra flexibility in copying or moving software to different locations on a portable device or on a PC, and they help improve your privacy and security by running from portable devices like flash drives.

Take your "computer setup" with you, keep every piece of free software that impresses you or run them, say, at a library. I suggest starting a collection, or an army actually, of your favorite portable apps instead of trying to minimize the number of programs you install.

For an introduction to portable software, read the Guide to Portable Applications.

 

Installation Tips

Step 1: At each download site make sure to get the "portable" or "standalone" version. Most sites clearly label it as such. Usually it's a regular file name ending with EXE, ZIP, or PAF.EXE (usually, but not always, without words like "setup" in the download file name).

  • EXE files run "as is", or they self-extract after you double-click them.
  • ZIP files must be extracted first. Right-click the ZIP folder > "Extract All...", or double click on it if you associate archive files with something like 7-Zip.
  • If the downloaded file ends with PAF.EXE, just double-click it and install it to a folder of your choice (and if you copy over the previous version of a program it even deletes the older version first).
  • Other download formats usually have a special launcher (such as the downloads for LiberKey). But sometimes you choose portable as an option during installation (Foobar music player comes to mind).

Step 2: It's a good idea to create a folder for your portable apps, if you haven't already. I suggest creating a sub folder for each program within your portable folder or moving its existing folder to your portable folder (as long as they allow for relative paths; a few don't and would quit working if you move them around freely). In any case, after you get the portable app functional, you must make a shortcut to it:

  • The easiest way is to create a shortcut in a portable launcher (or the portable launcher that comes with a suite of portable programs). PStart, for example, allows you to drag and drop EXE files and automatically create a shortcut in its launcher. Whereas, PortableApps Suite type launchers automatically search its PortableApps folder and add shortcuts for you after you refresh or restart the launcher (just as long as you create individual folders for all your portable apps).
  • Or go to your portable apps folder, right-click on the main application for the portable app (usually it's the one with a recognizable icon and a large file size), and select "Create Shortcut" or "Send to > Desktop". Then simply right-click the shortcut and select "pin to start menu" (Vista), or drag the shortcut to the start menu.
  • Read How to Manually Create a Program Launcher for an interesting approach (the approach I'm using).
  • Or upload your portable apps to an online backup site, such as Windows Live Skydrive, if you intend on using them on various computers.
 

TruPortable: Portability + Stealth

We will start marking applications as "TruPortable" if they work as standalone apps and run without waste (few significant registry entries, few auto installation features, little need for user tweaking, etc.).

This excludes registry entries automatically created by windows. An application must work from a flash drive and run without problems on most computers. We also require no user involvement (to make an app portable). For this designation, we want apps to do their job and leave the rest of the computer alone!

Best Free Portable Applications - Quick Select Index

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Security/Privacy: Anonymous Surfing | Browser Security Addons/Extensions | Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware
Cleanup/Tune: PC Tuneup | Defrag | File & Registry Cleaner | Eraser | Uninstaller | Startup Manager | Windows Tweaker
Home & Office: Office Suite | Word Processor | PDF Reader | Finance Software | PIM
Image Tools: Image Viewer | Image Editor
Internet Tools: Browser | Email Client | Instant Messenger | Bittorrent Client | Download Manager | FTP Client
Multimedia: CD & DVD Burner | Media Player | Music Player | MP3 Tagger | Video Editor
System Tools: Backup/Sync | Software Updater | Screen Capture Utility | File Manager | Encryption
Launchers: Portable Launchers | Portable App Suites & Launchers
Still Reading? Games & Education | Related Top Pick Lists
 
Best Free Portable Apps for Security & Privacy
 

Best Free Portable Anonymous Surfing Browser:

xB Browser -- Download | Editor Review

Description: "A portable version of Firefox with a well integrated Tor engine that uses the free Tor network. It's easy to setup and doesn't require advanced knowledge, but you will have to use it as a second browser for anonymous surfing in contrast to Vidalia or JonDo that also support normal browsing." (Creates an empty folder in the user profile.)

The drawback to xB Browser is that it's browser specific to Firefox. Users who prefer to use a different browser, can try JonDo. JonDo works with other browsers, but you may have to follow guides to get all the settings right. But JonDo also recommends a Firefox solution:

Another option is to use a Portable Firefox with the JonDo-Portable service and the JonDoFox configuration. The advantage is that the JonDoFox configuration comes with many other specially selected security addons (NoScript, CS-Lite, Adblock Plus), installs as an alternate profile (allowing you to switch between normal and anonymizing profiles), and allows proxy switching between the Tor or JonDo anonymizing networks. However, the JonDo-Portable service requires Java and is more resource intensive.

Other Anonymous Services: JonDo-Portable with JonDoFox & Portable Firefox
 

Best Free Portable Security Addons/Extensions:

Site Adviser (WOT), Script Blocker (NoScript), Malware and Privacy Filterer (Adblock Plus), and Password Manager (LastPass, portable version)

Description: The best security practice is to prevent malware from infecting your system before you have to cure it (before you have to worry about trying to remove some tricky rootkit), and no security setup is 100% sound. So site advisors like WOT or LinkExtend help flag sites with poor reputations and help you avoid them altogether. WOT even has a warning and blocking screen to stop you from interacting with malicious sites.

But if you only use a warning screen, a site may run something malicious before you get a chance to get away. NoScript is good for blocking JavaScripts and other possible means for executing malicious attacks. But most sites use such scripts today for legitimate purposes, so NoScript takes some getting used to and requires you to manually allow sites you trust if you want them to work as expected.

Adblock Plus gets a lot of recognition for blocking ads and cleaning up your surfing experience (for good reason, of course), but it also allows you to subscribe to many other filters to help avoid malware domains or to protect your privacy (see the Malware Domains & EasyList/EasyPrivacy filters, for example).

Last but not least, I suggest a password manager (such as LastPass, my choice as of now) to avoid having to enter passwords or forms (opening yourself to keyloggers). Before you ask, KeyScrambler isn't portable!

Most of these are so popular that they work on multiple browsers, but a few require Firefox, such as NoScript and Adblock Plus (but its filter subscriptions can be used with Chromium browsers). But other browsers have alternatives to these that afford similar protection.

It's not an addon/extension, but you can further protect your portable browser with DropMyRights. You can create a "safe icon" for your portable browser(s) and add DropMyRights to your portable folder. See this guide by Gizmo for the general idea of how DropMyRights works.

Other Web Form Fillers / Password Managers: KeePass | RoboForm2Go

Related Guide: How to Improve Security When Using a Public Terminal
 

Best Free Portable Anti-Malware:

ClamWin -- Home | Download | Support

Description: ClamWin is a popular choice for portable malware scanning; it makes the top spot here mainly for lack of competition from truly portable apps! In any case, it scans for both viruses and spyware. But it won't provide real time protection, and it doesn't have scheduling or program updating in the portable version. It allows you to update the database with the newest threats any time you want , but dialup users will have great difficulty getting them initially, if they are patient enough to get them at all (it took me a morning while surfing around doing other stuff!). Verified TruPortable.

Be sure to upload any newly downloaded or suspicious files to an online multi-scanner such as Virustotal or Jotti before copying them to your flash drive and use ClamWin for regular scanning. Additionally, I suggest periodic scanning with your regular antivirus and antispyware software when you can. Many of the best antivirus and antispyware scanners/removers must be installed.

General Tips: Safe Portable App-ing

Online Scanners for New Downloads: Virustotal | Jotti
 

Additional Portable Apps for Anti-Malware Removal

Best Free Portable Apps for Cleanup & Tuning
 

Best Free Portable All-in-one PC Tune-up:

Comodo System Cleaner -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: Comodo System Cleaner continues to improve since the first time I saw it. It has three main cleaners (disk, privacy, registry) and a "clean my computer" one-click button to run them all. It uses a two step "safe delete or registry protection" procedure to prevent you from deleting essential files or registry entries, including a built-in backup and restore tab and a restart of the computer. The second step requires you to restart the computer before finalizing its actions. In addition, it allows you to set a new restore point before cleaning for a third safety precaution. Why all the fuss? Well, automated cleaning is risky business, so also be sure to have a good backup of your files and a drive image.

It also comes with many other cleaning and system utilities. You can manage autorun entries (startup-up programs, services, etc.), erase selected files/folders or the free space, view system information, uninstall software, and tweak system settings. It downloads a help file through an updater if you need it; otherwise, the internal updater is disabled in the portable version. Creates files and folders in your user folder ("ComodoGroup" in "roaming").
 

Best Free Portable Disk Defragmenter:

Defraggler -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: "A solid combination of performance, stability and usability from Piriform. With a very clean interface design based on the common Windows defrag interface, Defraggler is incredibly easy to use and offers all the options you need to keep your machine running smoothly – including the ability to defragment individual files and folders as well as an in-built defragmentation scheduler." Verified TruPortable.

All of the portable websites have ignored MyDefrag's existence so far. It doesn't help that its author argues against any positive reasons for someone wanting to have a "no-install" version (here). However, MyDefragGUI ignores JK's reservations and makes MyDefrag portable. MyDefragGUI is an alternate interface designed to make running MyDefrag easier. It's an excellent choice for boot optimization and multiple sorting/optimizing scripts. The daily optimization script in particular helps to balance the wear and tear caused by defragging itself with the benefits of defragging (in saving wear and tear over time).

Alternate Products: MyDefragGUI
 

Best Free Portable File Cleaner:

CCleaner Portable -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: One of the essentials for a portable collection and getting closer and closer to an all-in-one utility. It hits several of our articles for different purposes and could compete for many more. "It's very effective in freeing up disk space by removing unused and temporary files, cookies, Recycle bin entries, history and cache files in many applications, and much more."

Plus it cleans the registry, manages the startup, uninstalls software, securely erases anything it deletes, wipes the free space and MFT, deletes old system restore points, manages cookies, or runs as a task with the /AUTO command argument. Verified TruPortable.

Related Articles: How to Schedule CCleaner to Run Automatically
 

Best Free Portable Memory Optimizer:

CleanMem -- Download | Forum | Editor Review

Description: Some people argue that memory optimizers aren't needed anymore. "But CleanMem seems to work and it helps you automatically recover memory and file cache space to improve performance. The program will install and run every 30 min via the windows task scheduler. It doesn't run in the background constantly."

Just extract the ZIP download file to a folder of your choice and click "schtasks.exe" for it to run automatically by the task scheduler, but don't use either of the BAT files since they aren't needed in the portable version and they install files to c:\windows\system32.
 

Best Free Portable Secure Delete:

Portable Eraser -- Home | Download | Forum | Editor Review

Description: It's easy to recover deleted files unless you routinely wipe the file data away. Eraser "overwrites the data area with your choice of random data patterns, and also wipes data in the recycling bin, unused disk space, and a number of other places where data can secretly lurk." Creates an INI file in C:\windows.

Many file cleaners include secure erasing such as CCleaner and Revo Uninstaller. But even if you securely delete files with something like CCleaner, I recommend regular free space wiping to increase the effectiveness of erasure (1 pass is usually enough on modern drives).

Alternate Products: EraserDrop Portable
 

Best Free Portable Program Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller -- Home | Download | FAQ | Editor Review

Description: Revo uninstalls software and scans for any leftover remnants. It's "the only freeware product I know of that will make a decent job of cleaning up a failed install." Additionally, click "Tools" for its startup manager, list of windows tools, and junk files scanner. Don't miss the "Tracks Cleaner" right below the Junk Scanner for its several other cleaners (browser cleaner, Office cleaner, Windows cleaner, free space wiper, file shredder). Verified TruPortable.

Automatically Uninstall Junk from a New PC: PC Decrapifier (TruPortable)
 

Best Free Portable Startup Manager:

Autoruns -- Download or Run Online | Forum | Editor Review

Description: If you have many unnecessary startup programs and tray icons hogging your RAM space and slowing your PC, then you can get many specialized startup managers beyond CCleaner and Revo above. For users who want to manage all possible startups, Autoruns is a gem. It allows you to manage auto start programs by simply unchecking them (so you can turn them back on if you really did need them), but you can also manage scheduled tasks, services, drivers, sidebar gadgets, and many other things. Writes settings to registry.

Other users may be content with Starter or WinPatrol below.

Alternate Products: Starter (follow steps to make it portable) | WinPatrol To Go
 

Best Free Portable Windows Tweaker:

Ultimate Windows Tweaker -- Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: Sometimes windows comes with more extras than you need or want, and sometimes its default applications have a mind of their own and represent a privacy or control threat to the user! You won't be able to completely get rid of Windows Media Player or Internet explorer with this tool, but it takes a good shot at them!

"UWT is a well equipped tweaker utility that supports Vista/Windows 7 (32/64 bit). Besides others it covers user account, security, performance and internet tweaking. The only thing that did not work on my 32Bit Vista Home Premium was the Network tweaking option. I received an error message and the page would not show. Still, UWT is a great tweaking utility worth a try." Copies files/folders to the system directory.

Best Free Portable Apps for Home & Office
 

Best Free Portable Office Suite:

OpenOffice Portable -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: One of the greatest names in freeware is the OpenOffice software suite for productivity, including word processing, spreadsheets, databases, powerpoint presentations, graphics, and a couple math apps. Merchants often advertise commercial counterparts to OpenOffice (mainly Microsoft Office) to customers buying a new PC, which come at a very expensive price. OpenOffice allows you to smirk back at them with confidence!

OpenOffice is free and open source, it does almost everything commercial suites do, and it saves/loads document formats compatible with Microsoft Office. You can get the PortableApps version or the winPenPack x-version. Verified TruPortable.

LibreOffice is proving to be very popular and well worth the down load and can be downloaded from portableapps.com      

If you need to use certain wizards or database functions, you will need Java Portable or to portablize Java. Otherwise it's not needed.

Other Download Sites: winPenPack's X-OpenOffice

Alternate Products: SoftMaker Office (no portable download and writes to registry, see steps to make it portable)
 

Best Free Portable Word Processor:

AbiWord -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: If you only need a lightweight word processor, then AbiWord is an excellent choice. "It's a multi platform application and reads many standard document types (OpenOffice, MS Word, WordPerfect, RTF, HTML...)." You can add extra plugins and tools to enhance it (such as dictionaries or fonts), see here for how.

Alternate Products: Jarte (requires INI file to make it fully portable) | Tomahawk PDF+ (TruPortable)
 

Best Free Portable PDF Viewer:

PDF-XChange Viewer -- Home | Download | Editor Review

Description: There are many lightweight alternatives to Adobe reader. PDF-XChange is an excellent choice for its good text clarity, and its ability to make annotations without watermarking. "It loads reasonably fast, prints PDFs, exports PDF documents to many formats (BMP, JPEG, TIFF, PNG), magnifies text, and extracts text and images. It also allows you to save and fill Adobe PDF forms." And the portable download is half the size of the regular installer. Verified TruPortable.

Alternate Products: Foxit Reader (writes settings to registry) | Cool PDF Reader (TruPortable) | Sumatra PDF Portable (TruPortable)
 

Best Free Portable Personal Finance Software:

GnuCash Portable -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: If you need specialized financial software to avoid messing around with custom spreadsheet functions, GNUCash can make things easier. "It will ease you into accounting equations and help you keep tabs of your budget. You are allowed to easily create as many accounts as you need. The program has a reporting and graphing module to generate a full suite of standard and customizable reports, including balance sheet, profit & loss, portfolio valuation, etc. On the downside, it doesn't provide encryption of files, but you can rely on third party encryption software to keep files confidential and secured if necessary." Its online banking features write settings to the registry.

If you need to automatically retrieve financial quotes, see just below here for information on Perl Portable.

Alternate Products: RQ Money (TruPortable) | Money Manager Ex (Writes to the registry)
 

Best Free Portable PIM:

EssentialPIM Free -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: Personal Information Management (PIM) software helps store and organize your information electronically. EssentialPIM Free includes "tools to satisfy your calendar, contact management, to do list, notes and email needs." The portable version saves all your data in one file and encrypts it (with standard Rijndael, a 128 bit key). Get the "free portable" version (ZIP download).

EssentialPIM also has additional syncing and scheduling features: "It does many of the same things as Outlook and can import your Outlook data and/or Outlook Express contacts as well. There is no way to schedule repeating to-dos, but by creating an all day repeating "task" (which is essentially an appointment) you can effectively create a repeating to-do which begins before the day grid." Verified TruPortable.

 

Related Portable Apps

Best Free Portable Apps for Image Viewing & Image Editing
 

Best Free Portable Digital Photo/Image Viewer:

XnView -- Home | Download | Forum | Editor Review

Description: XnView is "a heavyweight champion. Like Irfan, it's very versatile; it can read and display nearly 400 types of graphic files, and convert any of these to more than 50 formats. It displays images very quickly, and these may be viewed full screen, as slideshows or as thumbnails. It's quite capable at processing images, too; you can rotate, crop, resize, adjust brightness and color, apply filters or effects, create a web page and much more". To make it fully portable, see here.

This category has many excellent freeware options; make sure to check out IrfanView or FastStone Image Viewer below.

Alternate Products: IrfanView | FastStone Image Viewer (TruPortable)
 

Best Free Portable Digital Image Editor:

LightBox/Sagelight Image Editor -- Download | Editor Review

Description: If you just need a simple, basic editor than Lightbox is the top pick. It "has an attractive user interface that is straight forward, and offers intuitive slide-bar adjustments for your images. It also has split screen views to help you compare your images before and after the corrections have been made. It includes simple tools to correct red-eye, sharpen, crop, re-size, add borders, and print. The free version is a gem that you will want to check out". If you need more powerful features, check the alternatives below and the product review article.

Alternate Products: PhotoFiltre | GIMP Portable (TruPortable)
 

Related Portable Apps

Best Free Portable Apps for Internet & Network
 

Best Free Portable Web Browser:

Portable Firefox -- Home | Download | PortableApps Guide | Editor Review

Description: Firefox is an excellent Internet browser to use for portable surfing, with many built-in security measures and addons. Additionally, you can run it from your flash drive so that most of your tracks will be stored on the flash drive and not on the computer you use. Note that some addons may not be portable. Creates crash files by default in the user AppData folder. In order to make it fully portable, see here.

Portable Firefox is excellent for use in a flash drive since it's specially configured to reduce reads/writes to the disk and to run faster from a portable device. But note that you must run only the FirefoxPortable EXE file, otherwise it won't be portable anymore. PortableApps is currently working on a portable version that allows trace free updates with the internal Firefox updater (at current it now works but with writing to the user folder).

Also note that the portable version is about 40 MBs more resource intensive than an installed version, so for home browsing you might want to use an installer rather than a portable version.

PortableApps has an excellent and informative download site for their version of Portable Firefox (use the PortableApps Guide for installation tips). You can also get the winPenPack X-Firefox version, but it's much more difficult to setup unless you use their suite.

Other Download Sites: winPenPack's x-Firefox

Other Portable Internet Browsers: SRWare Iron | OperaUSB/Opera Portable (TruPortable) | QtWeb (TruPortable)
 

Best Free Portable Email Client:

Mozilla Thunderbird Portable -- Home | Download | Addons | Editor Review

Description: "It's a highly customizable email client with an intuitive user interface. Highly expandable through add-ons." I was surprised by how quickly it works and how easily it interacted with my online email provider (Gmail). It made a complete copy of my Gmail account and checked for any new messages regularly. The interface is very easy to navigate, considering it's just like Firefox (and that happens to be my main browser). That said, it's not a light application and some extensions may not be portable.

If you want a lightweight email client to run from the tray and just check your mail, then POP Peeper is an excellent option. See these steps to have POP Peeper store your data in its own folder. Another option is to set it to never store data to the disk, or manually enter its "data" folder path in the storage options.
 

Best Free Portable Instant Messenger:

Pidgin Portable -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: "For most users, I think Pidgin currently fits the bill best. It's easy-to-use, cleanly-designed, and very functional. Being non-commercial, open-source software makes it even easier to support. I can confidently recommend Pidgin as the first choice for a multi-protocol IM client." It aptly calls itself "the universal chat client." Check its home page for a long list of supported clients. Verified TruPortable.

Skype, on the other hand, allows free Skype-to-Skype phone calls with video, but it also has instant messaging and many other features (voicemail, SMS, forwarding). Also TruPortable.
 

Best Free Portable BitTorrent Client:

µTorrent -- Home | Download | Editor Review

Description: "Bittorrents are fast, equitable, and efficient download formats, and µTorrent is the most popular client for this format. Its positives are: Excellent performance on all test torrents. Small, lightest (tie) on system resources but has all the needed features. Excellent support. Always improving as a bittorrent client. Negatives: Several 'highly critical' security alerts (now patched) were issued in 2008 by Secunia." Follow these steps to force it to write settings to its own folder.
 

Best Free Portable Download Manager:

Free Download Manager -- Home | Download | Editor Review

Description: "A good choice for its stability and support for various browsers. Supports IE, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari. Other features include simultaneous multi-part downloads, flash video download, restart and recover, powerful scheduler, management of downloaded files, downloads from RapidShare, prioritized and partial torrent downloads, etc." Writes some non-user oriented settings to the registry.

Alternate Products: DownThemAll! (Firefox Extension)
 

Best Free Portable FTP Client:

FireFTP -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: "FTP clients are programs that reside on a PC, enabling fast bulk file transfers between the PC and a server. They are very useful when you need to download or transfer more than a few files and are an essential tool for website management."

"With a robust feature set, ease of use, and browser integration, FireFTP should serve the needs of all (except perhaps the heaviest power users) and is quickly becoming one of my favorite FTP clients."

Alternate Products: FileZilla
 

Related Portable Apps

Best Free Portable Apps for Multimedia
 

Best Free Portable CD / DVD Burner:

InfraRecorder -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: InfraRecorder is a common choice for a simple burner (its the top pick at PortableApps.com & Lupo PenSuite for example), but ImgBurn is our "Top Pick" and can be made portable (see alternate products). InfraRecorder is portable out-of-box and therefore excellent for average users. It can create data discs, audio & video discs, write images for bootable discs, copy discs, read discs, and erase/format discs. The welcome screen is optional, but its built-in help didn't work for me.

"It works with all types of CDs and DVDs including dual layer discs. It even includes full command line support like CDBurnerXP. The interface is clean and simple without a lot of extras to make things confusing. InfraRecorder is a respectable burning program, but it has a few disadvantages as well. It does not support Blu-Ray discs or HD-DVDs. It also does not include many advanced options for tweaking the burn process to perfection like ImgBurn. Its interface isn’t as nice as that of BurnAware Free, and it doesn’t have any extra features like CDBurnerXP." Verified TruPortable.

Alternate Products: CDBurnerXP (requires Microsoft .NET Framework) although it does have disk spanning feature which is easy to use.

| ImgBurn (see steps to make it portable) | DeepBurner (borderline portable)
 

Best Free Portable Media Player:

The KM Player (KMP) -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: Media players are good for playing your audio and video files and CDs/DVDs. The KM Player is "easy to use and install, has awesome playback, and plays most everything without need to download extra codec packs, making it easy to use for those with less experience. Other features include setting multifarious audio and video effects, slow down or increase playback speed with regular tone, etc."

First you need to click on the download file to have it self-extract to a folder of your choice. Then it requires a simple setting change in the interface to make it portable: use a right click on it anywhere > Options > Preferences > General > check "Store settings to KMPCfg.ini". See an alternative option here.

None of the media players run with stealth and variously write to the registry or user folder.

Alternate Products: Media Player Classic HomeCinema | VLC Media Player Portable
 

Best Free Portable Music Player and Organizer:

Jaangle -- Home | Download | Forum | Editor Review

Description: Sometimes media players are not enough for music lovers, and we have to search around for a suitable music player by trial and error. Jaangle has an intuitive and user-friendly interface for playing music, an excellent library for music managing, and very interesting download capabilities of artist photos/bios, song lyrics, etc. Download and extract the "files only" version.

However, it doesn't rip or convert music files, but to do that try BonKEnc (TruPortable).

Alternate Products (All TruPortable): Foobar | AIMP 2 | XMPlay | 1by1
 

Best Free Portable MP3 Tag Editor:

TagScanner -- Home | Download | Editor Review

Description: Once upon a time, I often resorted to Windows Media Player (WMP) mainly because it's rather good for the initial tasks of tagging and cover art finding. But TagScanner is even better and allows me to shut down WMP for good! It "supports basic and extended tags and is complete with Music Renamer and Tag Processor. You can preview tags and cover artwork from an online database before saving. However, it does not come with a normal windows menu. You may need to spend some time to get yourself familiarized with its user interface". Verified TruPortable.
 

Best Free Portable Video Editor:

Avidemux -- Home | Download | Wiki | Editor Review

Description: The vendor describes Avidemux as a "free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks". It has many tutorials and guides at its Wiki to help with these tasks. It's "designed for multi-purpose video editing and processing, and can be used on almost all known operating systems and computer platforms. It's simple to use and supports many file types, including AVI, MPEG, MP4, and ASF". Writes settings to user folder.

Alternate Product: VirtualDub (TruPortable)
 

Related Portable Apps

Best Free Portable System Utilities
 

Best Free Portable Backup Program & Folder Sync Utility:

Toucan -- Download | Support | Forum | Editor Review

Description: Toucan has a simple interface for syncing and backing up. It allows you to easily keep the same files and folders on multiple locations. If you want to sync to a flash drive, just use its "mirror (update)" function to periodically add new programs and remove unwanted programs from the flash drive. Or use its backup tab to archive your folders and files to a backup location. The encryption and other components look much more complicated for some users. But it comes with a help manual if you need its advanced features.

"If you are looking for a light weight portable backup solution this little app has your number. It supports incremental and differential backups, zip or 7-zip compression, AES 256 bit encryption using ccrypt, and a simple restore feature." Verified TruPortable.

Another interesting approach is to backup portable apps or your essential archives to a secure online backup site. For example, Windows Live Skydrive allows 25 GB of space, or use DropBox if you don't need as much space and want to share files. See our review for other options.

Alternate Sync Products: FreeFileSync | Folder Synchronization Utility

Related Products to Backup Profiles: FEBE (Firefox only) | MozBackup (Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.)
 

Best Free Portable Software Update Monitor:

FileHippo Update Checker -- Download | Editor Review

Description: Keeping software up-to-date is sometimes essential for security, especially with critical Windows updates and risky software (browsers, office document apps, media players, PDF viewers, Java/Flash player plugins, etc.). Secunia OSI is an excellent online app to run every once in awhile, but it requires the Java plugin. It searches for apps with security flaws, and it scans for Windows patches to make sure you haven't forgotten or ignored the sometimes annoying Windows update messages! But it's limited to risky and common software.

To check for newer versions of the rest of your software, you can use a general software update monitor to automatically search your PC for applications in need of updates. FileHippo's Update Checker is "easy to use and provides direct download links" from a very reliable site. You can also click on "Settings" and add custom search locations, such as for your portable app folders. But it only searches for the updates of apps listed on its download site, so it may not be enough on its own and may require supplemental manual update checking. Writes setting changes to registry.
 

Best Free Portable Screen Capture Utility:

PicPick -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: Again Windows comes with only very basic screen capture features. You can use the "Print Screen" button to copy the screen to the clipboard (or hit ALT at the same time to copy an active window to the clipboard), but PicPick has better flexibility and features, and many additional tools. It's "user friendly and suitable for most average users. A right click on the tray icon shows a context menu for capturing full screen, active window, window control, rectangular, fixed or freehand region. Supports auto-scroll, dual monitors, sound effect and multiple formats. An image editor is included, plus extra features such as a color picker, screen ruler, protractor, cross hair and whiteboard." Verified TruPortable.

Alternate Products: FastStone Capture (TruPortable)
 

Best Free Portable File Manager:

xplorer² lite -- Home | Download | Editor Review

Description: If you have had two or three windows Explorers open, then you might benefit from a feature rich file manager. xplorer² lite "is easy to use and learn, has a similar interface to Windows Explorer, and supports dual panes and folder tabs." Now, if I could just remember to use it! Verified TruPortable.

Alternate Products: FreeCommander Portable | XYplorer
 

Best Free Portable Encryption:

TrueCrypt -- Home | Download | FAQ | Forum | Editor Review

Description: Encrypts your files to protect your personal information while in transit or in cases of stolen or lost computers or flash drives, or just to lock out prying eyes and malware from your personal or private files. "TrueCrypt is a seasoned, widely-used encryption program. Its open source status allows the all-important peer review of the source code required for a trustworthy encryption program." Limited function in portable version and writes settings to registry.

Other types of freeware also encrypt to some extent, such as file archive and folder sync programs.

Related Articles: Portable Mode/Traveler Mode | Encryption is Not Enough | Encryption Utility for Work

Alternate Products: FreeOTFE (Creates entries in registry)
 

Best Free Portable Zip Utility:

7-Zip -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: A much better app for archiving is the portable 7-Zip. It allows you to compress, encrypt, and set passwords for your backups. I found it easy to use. It was especially good for uncompressing files/folders in its file manager. "It's easy to install, gives meaningful error messages, and is capable of uncompressing from multiple embedded files. Even though it handles fewer archive types than some other programs, it's a fantastic program that will fill 99% of all your file archiving needs." Verified TruPortable.

Use Peazip or IZArc (etc.) below if you need additional formats.

Alternate Products: PeaZip (TruPortable) | IZArc | Universal Extractor

Editor's Advisory Note: IZArc is now bundled with OpenCandy. See this article for more information.

 

 

Best Free Portable Data Recovery / File Un-delete Utility:

Recuva -- Home | Download | Support | Editor Review

Description: Recuva is a "quick simple solution, copes well with the flash memory used in digital cameras, MP3 players, or USB drives". It recovers files from damaged or formatted drives, deleted emails (Outlook, Thunderbird Windows Live), and deleted iPod music. On its default settings, it has fast scans, but if you need to do a deep scan to find a deleted file, then it will take much longer. Make sure to recover files to a different drive to improve your chances of recovery. As a nice extra, it can erase most files it finds. Verified TruPortable.
 

Best Free Portable System Information Utility:

SIW -- Home | Download | FAQ | Editor Review

Description: Windows has some built-in system information features in its control panel. But SIW is a much better option and it does even more than all the scattered Windows tools lurking in unseen places. It "displays detailed specs for motherboard, BIOS, CPU, devices, memory, video, disk drives, ports, printers, operating system, installed programs, processes, services, serial numbers (CD keys), users, open files, system uptime, network, network shares, as well as real-time monitors for CPU, memory, page file usage and network traffic. It also displays currently active network connections, passwords hidden behind asterisks, installed codecs, and more."

I did receive an antivirus warning for its Eureka password revealer, but that's a false positive if user initiated.  The network activity meter didn't work for me (probably my firewall is the culprit). And I much prefer to use the handy Process Explorer to view running processes and CPU/Memory activity. But the great thing about SIW is that it brings together all your system information into one portable app. Verified TruPortable. Advisory: SIW is bundled with OpenCandy. More information here.

Alternate Products: PC Wizard (Writes settings to registry) | CrystalMark2004
 

Best Free Portable Desktop Search:

Everything Search Engine -- Home | Download | FAQ | Editor Review

Description: "It finds files on your hard drive faster than any product we’ve tested. Even on a terabyte sized drives containing hundreds of thousands of files your search results appear near instantaneously. That’s impressive in itself but there's more. Everything indexes your disks in seconds rather than hours. That means no more laborious background indexing that slows your computer to a crawl. Everything only searches file names not the contents of files. However in this role it is a product without peer." Verified TruPortable.
 

Related Portable Apps

Best Free Portable Program Launchers
 

Portable App Launchers:

Portable App Suites/Launchers:

  • The Portable Freeware Collection: It's the only choice here without a program launcher and suite, but it's one of the very best places for portable apps and commentary. It rates programs on stealth and provides tips on making them portable if needed. You can also look at download stats, user comments, dependencies, and products in similar categories. The search engine returns portable apps and forum posts. And the forum is especially helpful. Once the programs are on your drive, you can use any of the portable app launchers.

  • Lupo PenSuite: Provides an impressive number of apps (see full list, use tabs at top). The details page for each app is very helpful, with ratings and related links. It's a very good list and an excellent portable app site to explore.

  • LiberKey: It's rather good at choosing portable apps for its launcher. For example, I would keep the majority of its picks even in its basic suite (about 16 of 24).  The suite pages have links to product websites for many of the apps.

  • PortableApps.com: It's the coolest looking site, with a professional looking launcher and a couple default suites of apps. It draws from hundreds of portable apps and then narrows them down to a select few, but I personally would only keep a few of those (5 of the 13, including a game). The forum and guides are very helpful, though. And the site is an important download source for its PAF versions of portable apps. It also has a longer list of applications.

  • winPenPack: Once you get past the awful look of the site and click the English translation, it has an excellent suite of apps. It has the most default suites at 5 (see the comparison table) and creates some of its own versions of open source portable apps ("x" versions). I was unfamiliar with many of its choices, so it may require more exploration and user testing than the suites above. Additionally, the x-versions are much more difficult to setup than PAF versions, so I recommend using PortableApps.com versions of portable programs unless you use the winPenPack suite.

Portable OS:

Still reading? How about Some Other Fun Portable Stuff?
 

Games:

Computer Chess Games

Windows Favorites: Default Based Games

Others

Make Your Old "Nibbles" or Other Old DOS Games Work Again


Education:
 

Portable Astronomy Tools

Portable Dictionary and Thesaurus

Other Education

Related Top Pick Lists
Related Tags
best free portable applications, portable apps, portable freeware, portable software, portable software applications, best of Gizmo's Freeware for portable apps, portable programs, portable programs for windows 7/Vista/XP

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor ratzo

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Comments

by Anupam on 19. August 2010 - 20:19  (56374)

The direct download link has been removed in the above comment. We do not allow links to direct download. I have replaced the link with the product's download page, where portable version is available.

by gobile (not verified) on 2. July 2010 - 3:19  (53605)

Thanks for the article!

by Anonymous on 16. June 2010 - 5:30  (52219)

BioniX Wallpaper is freeware (Lite edition) and portable. Put your personal photos on a stick and BioniX Wallpaper and voila. You have a portable photo album in your pocket.

BioniX can automatically detect the images as you add them in the "Wallpapers" folder, or you can create a playlist.

www dot bionixwallpaper dot com

by Anonymous on 9. April 2010 - 4:23  (47282)

I disagree with the Portable Backup Program & Folder Sync Utility
FreeFileSync it´s way beyond Toucan. It´s very user friendly, powerful, and it keeps being updated and improved :)

About the Portable Media Player "None of the media players run with stealth and variously write to the registry or user folder." Really?
Does the PortableApps Package of VLC write settings to the registry? and why using portable-non stealth players like KMP when you can use ones fully portables like VLC, SM Player, Foobar2000 or CoolPlayer (from PortableApps).

I would add as well StarBurn to the burning softwares.

Well, there are so many portable applications that it´s very hard to maintain a list i.e. I´m missing Apps like SARDU, AutoPatcher or WSUS Offline Updater, Speccy, LookInMyPC, Regshot, PC Wizard, Insomnia or Don´t Sleep, Moba Live, Device Doctor, Double Driver, Notepad2, ReNamer, Softperfect Network Scanner, Tor Portable or Tor Browser and etc etc. Anyway I guess this may be especially useful for those that are new to the Portable Apps world.

Last for the update of your portable apps Ketarin it´s the way to go and I would say it´s a very fair option for your installed Applications as well. You can set Ketarin to automatically check for updates, download and silently install them.

Phil

by realuser (not verified) on 15. September 2010 - 16:23  (57879)

Agree that FreeFileSync is much easier to use than Toucan if one doesn't need the backup and security features in Toucan.

by Dgemu (not verified) on 20. August 2010 - 18:23  (56430)

KMPLayer is portable, I have a launcher for it that removes the leftover items. Problem is the site has a mixture of commercial apps alongside those that are free, therefore I won't be posting a link.

What I will say though is that it is based off a Portableapps launcher, so perhaps someone can make a more "official" version.

by Rizar on 9. April 2010 - 15:58  (47307)

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your comments.

Here's some info about VLC, apparently it writes to the user folder, but the comments have some workarounds: http://www.portablefreeware.com/index.php?id=599

I usually give more weight to the top picks from other Tech Support articles because those top picks go through a rigorous, grassroots process of Darwinian evolution through user comments and such! And plus the various editors know more about their areas than I do!

I'll check out FreeFileSync again to see if it has improved since my last look at it.

Feel free to list all of the portable apps you like to use. You will find many such extensive lists in the comments below. And as I search for ones to test I often look through past comments.

by Anonymous on 15. March 2010 - 21:57  (45621)

1 more question/comment - I find it a difficult task to keep portable apps updated. Especially if I have lots of them. It is much easier to keep installed programs updated as there are several programs that do it. Am I missing something here...?? Thx again.

Darryl.

by gerhardus (not verified) on 24. December 2010 - 10:02  (63186)

Very true, I had the same problem but have since switched to LiberKey and never looked back.

by Anonymous on 24. March 2010 - 13:41  (46110)

Yes!!!!
I am so glad you mentioned this the 1 easiest thing I have found is to set my "task scheduler" to defrag my computer once a month the very next day it wil update all windows programs the next anti-virus etc....

get the picture once a month take alitlle time to update and you are Golden!

by Rizar on 15. March 2010 - 23:12  (45625)

The software update monitors suggested in our site review include features to scan custom folders, such as those for portable apps. Secunia PSI seems to do it by default.

Updating is more difficult for some apps, such as Firefox since the internal updater doesn't work. But this is a small concern for users interested in running a browser on a flash drive for the sake of privacy and security. For dialup users running it from their local drive, it's a deal breaker!

by Anonymous on 15. March 2010 - 21:53  (45620)

Thx for the replies guys. I actually found the paragraph I read awhile ago describing the possible problems with running portable apps from the hard drive. Here it is..

'' BE CAUTIOUS* of placing a portable app on the C-Drive and launching it from there, for trial purposes. With Vista (not sure about earlier versions of windows), the Vista program will automatically start integrating/installing the C-Drive located Portable Program (when you launch the program) as part of the Windows structure, adding program related files to the Registry and the User/AppData folder, and perhaps elsewhere, without providing an automatic uninstall capability. You may not be able to full remove the app should you wish to. You're better off using an installable version of an application for tests if you plan to place an app on the C-Drive and launch it from there: installable versions generally result in automatic uninstall options.''

Darryl.

by Rizar on 15. March 2010 - 23:32  (45628)

Just about all applications leave behind some basic history entries in the registry (whether run from a flash drive or otherwise). But these are usually excluded from the stealth criteria.

A great site to check for these types of issues is Portable Freeware. When they test portable apps, they use a comparison of registry states or Sandboxie states before and after they use/test a portable app, so they can tell whether it leaves significant registry/folder entries outside its own folder. They also give you tips to make some apps more stealthy.

Many so-called portable apps do create many registry/folder entries outside their own folder, and in such cases they don't have stealth. They may still be portable in the sense that they work from a flash drive and have the advantage of keeping most of the same settings on any computer you use.

If you use portable apps locally and they do not have stealth, then you could argue that you might as well install them, especially if they leave behind numerous registry entries, windows system folder files, user folder files, etc.

But you don't need to use caution for the portable apps that have been tested as having stealth (until new versions come out for them!).

Note also that uninstallers usually leave behind a few to many registry entries and files as well!

And the apps that uninstall the cleanest are probably the ones that are closest to standalone apps -- ones that have portable apps (with stealth) or apps that can be made portable (with stealth). This is just my guess, but from experience, programs like firewalls are very difficult to uninstall cleanly.

by Anonymous on 24. March 2010 - 13:36  (46108)

There is a great little standalone app called "What Changed" (google it)here's some notes from Major Geeks about it:

What Changed is a simple utility that searches for modified files and registry entries. It is useful for checking program installations.

There are two steps for using What Changed:
1) First, take a snapshot of the state of the system
2) Second, run What Changed again to see the differences from the previous snapshot.
The Wizard

by Rizar on 25. March 2010 - 1:28  (46143)

Thanks, I will check it out.

by Anonymous on 11. March 2010 - 22:37  (45401)

I have a quick question - Is it OK to run Portable Apps from the Hard Drive on my Laptop instead of putting them on a USB stick ?? I read somewhere awhile ago that doing this can cause big problems to the computer.... I simply download Portable Applications and put them all in inside one main folder called 'Portable Apps' ( each portable app is inside its own folder ). So when I want to run one I just open my Portable Apps Folder and find the Folder of the Portable Program I wish to run and open it. Is there anything wrong with this? I dont need a USB stick as I only use one computer..
thx in advance for any info anyone can give me..

Darryl.

by Dgemu (not verified) on 20. August 2010 - 18:34  (56431)

On my hard drive Ihave around 30 portable apps, a mixture of stealth (which is preferable and the majority) and apps that leave traces usually in AppData\Roaming (some require drivers).

I have never had a problem, one of the reasons I install portable apps in the first place is for easy backup and safety (portable apps tend to mess around with computers a lot less).

Installing programs can always have adverse effects that only effect a few individuals sometimes significantly if possible read the relevant reviews prior to installation, (however a portable version of the same app should give no additional problems that that installed version would have).

by Anonymous on 13. March 2010 - 14:30  (45494)

Likewise Darryl, I have been running about 20 odd portable apps from a Standalone folder on the laptop's hard disk (each from its own sub-folder) for a couple of years, without any untoward incident.

For reasons so well enunciated in this article, my preference has been for standalone apps to accomplish tasks, especially if they meet the TruPortable standard. Again, I prefer to carry them on my laptop rather than an external usb drive or hard disk. I have consolidated shortcuts to these apps in another Standalone folder, a concept similar to Jojoyee's Launcher, but placed it in the Start Menu instead of a Toolbar in the Taskbar. This, I find, makes it faster to find the app from Vista's Start Search box.

Cheers, Amjad.

by Jojo Yee on 12. March 2010 - 2:23  (45416)

Darryl, I'm running portable apps from the harddisk without any problem. Better still, I also create a DIY launcher to run them without the need to go to the folder.

I'd love to know what problems it can cause :>)

by bibzgi on 1. November 2010 - 13:41  (60573)

A personalized launcher, having the program shortcuts under categories...WTG!

:)

by JPBanks on 10. March 2010 - 21:08  (45336)

This review is just the ticket - been planning the USB portable app project for some time - Thanks Gizmo!

by Anonymous on 10. March 2010 - 18:44  (45323)

Best Portable Audio Editor (and yes, I use Audacity too!):

Wavosaur - http://www.wavosaur.com/download.php

by HeWhoRocks on 22. February 2010 - 3:56  (44153)

Hi.
Just letting you know I just ran ClamWin from a flashdrive and avast picked up two items of malware in it. I don't know if this is a false poitive or not but thought you should know.

by Anonymous on 21. February 2010 - 8:29  (44108)

I love geek.menu and the fact that you can put your own picture in it, as well as rename it (at the top) is just icing on the cake. Here's a comparison of three launchers written about a year ago:

http://www.tapland.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=10669

by Anonymous on 6. February 2010 - 11:20  (42948)

Here's what I have with me on the go:
OperaUSB

I have various OperaUSB folders, and I rename them depending on what area of my life it concerns, e.g. Photography, IT, Design, Personal Development.

In each different version of OperaUSB I go into userprefs and rename Opera to, for example OperaPersDev, then I change the skin.

This way (if that all makes sense) I have a range of Opera browsers that I can open depending on work to be done.

What I still haven't worked out is how to have shortcuts for each of them. I did have them set up with PStart, so when I inserted my usb stick I only had to open the PStart file and all my versions of Opera were to hand. This stopped working for some reason, so I'll have to rebuild it.

Also what I would like is to have the usb stick encrypted or a portion of it encrypted so my personal files are protected. Haven't figured out how to do that portable yet.

Hope my idea is of use to Gizmo fans!

by Anonymous on 6. January 2010 - 14:38  (40391)

My choice is following:

Browser: Opera Portable http://www.opera-usb.com/
Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird http://www.mozillamessaging.com/
Office: Open Office
XML editor: STDU XML Editor [Edit: Non-freeware]
RSS Reader: SE-RssTools http://www.se-soft.com/RssTools.aspx
Application launcher: SE-TrayMenu http://www.se-soft.com/TrayMenu.aspx
VirtualDub for video editing http://virtualdub.sourceforge.net/
Media player: GOM Player

by Anonymous on 12. January 2010 - 14:38  (40887)

Love seeing the GOM Player get some love. I used to use MPC before you started having to install it. I am such a fan of these types of programs. I don't know when or why it happened, but somewhere along the line I became phobic about installing anything I did not absolutely have to. Especially antivirus products, which, once on your system, sometimes just don't want to leave...

by Anonymous on 4. January 2010 - 15:50  (40241)

I've just noticed that SSuite have a portable version called SSuite Bladerunner
The site gives very little information on what it contains, but at 13.9Mb I can't think it's too much. Blurb says "A fully portable office suite".
I can't download in work, but might give it a test at home this week and post again...
For non-portable applications, they seem to be everything for everybody including a document manager, graphics, ripper, email, invoices, personal finance, PIM, Skype, Lan phone, envelope printer, etc. etc. Website is a bit confusing as regards a concise and comprehensive list of all these apps, but I'm wondering why I haven't heard posters rave about this if all their claims are true?
Download sizes are small, does not need Java, compatible with the usual major file formats

by irwanwr on 24. December 2009 - 18:08  (39377)

A very good review indeed. Although we can see that there is nothing about FreeFileSynch under Synch Utilities up there.
I found that FreeFileSynch as a quite simple yet powerful for a small portable application. Found it by accident when checking Codysafe updates.
Thank you for your review and information. Keep up the good work, mate ;)

by Rizar on 28. December 2009 - 16:17  (39665)

Thanks, it looks pretty good.

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