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Old 17. Sep 2018, 06:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Installing an application or using Portable Version

When a Portable Version of any application is available, what reason is there for installing the application instead of using the portable, if both the 'Install' and 'Portable' versions function the same way?

Thank you
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Old 17. Sep 2018, 08:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'll just sum it up like this:
Advantages of portable applications:
  • You don't need administrator access to use new software (e.g. if your company doesn't give you admin rights on your work computer)
  • You can (usually) stick the portable program on a USB drive and use the program on any computer, as long as the OS is compatible
  • It generally interferes less with the system
Advantages of using the installer:
  • You have to do less yourself. Often, with a portable version, you'll have to create the shortcuts yourself, and decide where to install it, whereas installers will generally install themselves in the Program Files folder on Windows and let you create shortcuts by simply checking checkboxes
  • I don't know what it's like on Linux, but on Windows, installed programs are somewhat "protected" in their Program Files folder, since only programs with admin privilidges can access program files that are not their own
  • Installers allow the program to be a lot more integrated into the system. For example, the communication software installed on my work computer allows me to click on just about any phone number to call it - pretty handy.
So, it's really about what you prefer, there's no universally better option. If you have admin rights on the computer, don't have a reason to have the program on a USB stick, and like having your programs integrated into the system (I definitely know I do), then choose the installer. Otherwise (or if you're paranoid about a program messing up your system), use the portable version.
EDIT: I should add, though, that using a portable version of an application does not prevent it from messing up your computer, portable applications just generally stay put in the folder they're installed in - one of the reasons they can't integrate as well. (for anyone who read only the last line of my post - no, I'm not talking about immigration)
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Old 18. Sep 2018, 03:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I like portable versions for it's simplicity/keeping registry clean

also easier for me to reformat computer since all the programs/settings remain and I don't have to set it back up. Yes, I know I could make a mirror backup of OS... I don't. I haven't found an easy way to do so on windows 10 (haven't bothered learning how to)
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Old 18. Sep 2018, 10:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If they are functionally equal, I would ALWAYS go for the portable one.
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Old 19. Sep 2018, 06:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If they are functionally equal, I would ALWAYS go for the installed one.

@Burn-IT, it is largely meaningless to say "functionally equal" without being more specific. The differences between installed and portable applications means that there is a functional difference unless you limit the scope of your comparison. I suspect that you are referring to functions that are visible and pertinent to the user or something like that.
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Old 19. Sep 2018, 07:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melita-s View Post
When a Portable Version of any application is available, what reason is there for installing the application instead of using the portable, if both the 'Install' and 'Portable' versions function the same way?

Thank you

@Melita, @trainman's summary is good.

I'd add that many people install portable versions thinking to reduce the risk of problems but generally they don't reduce overall risks, they just change the type of risk that you are exposed to.

@eyeb avoids the risk of having to reinstall applications when the OS is reinstalled. That is probably the biggest reason for portable apps on one computer. The reason this works is that many OS security features like Windows Firewall will configure settings automatically as soon as the application first accesses the network - that means without an installer those portable network applications have registry entries.

Portable apps are easier to carry between computers on a USB stick or virtual drive.

In general, portable applications expose users to potentially higher security risks. A portable application doesn't participate the same way in major security features like Windows User Account Control (UAC). Portable applications are then a security risk because they can be changed more easily.

As many computers are only used by a single user then most of us don't have to worry about portable applications that are not designed to be used by more than one user on the same computer. Whereas installation allows most installed applications to be used by more than one user even if the developer didn't design it that way. On the other hand, if it is just a case of copying the portable application into another folder for each extra user then the fix is not too onerous.

How do portable applications handle software dependencies such as any software libraries that the application depends upon? Many portable applications include the relevant parts of the libraries in their main application program. So a portable program can take up more disk space than an installed program. Whereas an installed program may just use libraries already installed on that computer. But it is more normal for an installed program to require a major software library and then it will take up more space if it is the only application using that library.

Nowadays we are into an increasingly large set of options that are more complicated than just portable versus installed software because many portable applications are really run-time modules that utilise pre-installed environments. Such virtualised applications don't have to install all the software they depend upon and nor do they need to know what the real computer configuration is, e.g. what OS am I running on.

Web applications are a good example of virtualised applications where the web browser provides the runtime environment that interprets the application code: this is how Javascript works. These applications are increasingly common on all OS. But while it is portable for the OS, you'll notice that most web browsers require the web app to be installed for the runtime environment because security is really important. That's also why avoiding OS security features is generally not that good an idea either unless you know what you are doing.
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Old 19. Sep 2018, 05:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Added benefit of portable programs, you can have multiple instances of the same program with different settings for different uses

Might not be a big deal if you can make separate accounts/profiles inside the program for different settings, but when you can't, having a portable app works because you can make a copy in a different folder <--- maybe someone would install same program twice? I don't know how windows would handle this.

example I have multiple firefox browsers with different extensions. One for research/school, one for fun and one for misc testing/surfing web. I can open them at the same time with different extensions running in them and not being in conflict with each other. I run different versions of the same plugins too. Some versions of flash work better for some webpages for me, so I don't always have the newest plugin. I don't think windows lets you install multiple flash versions

Also you can run portable programs out of your dropbox/google drive so it follows you online.

I don't run a virus scanner often these days >.> but the portable/on demand scanners are useful since having multiple real-time scanners can conflict with each other

Last edited by eyeb; 19. Sep 2018 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 20. Sep 2018, 03:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It seems to me that it would be worthwhile having an article on Gizmo's that summarizes all the points being made. I may just write one if nobody else does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeb View Post
Added benefit of portable programs, you can have multiple instances of the same program with different settings for different uses
Yes, that is a very useful benefit if you need it, e.g. you can test a new version without replacing the older version (as normally happens with installed applications).

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeb View Post
Also you can run portable programs out of your dropbox/google drive so it follows you online.
A good example of using a virtual drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeb View Post
I don't run a virus scanner often these days >.> but the portable/on demand scanners are useful since having multiple real-time scanners can conflict with each other
Real-time protection will almost always conflict even if both scanners are portable applications. So it is not normally a point of difference between installed scanners and portable scanners. Portable scanners aren't normally considered for real time protection because they can't adequately protect themselves because they don't integrate with the OS to start early enough in the startup processes.

The main conflict with two scanners running at the same time is competition for resources which gets worse if both are scanning the same drive at the same time; in the worst case, two scanners running in parallel can take much longer than two scanners running one after the other.
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Old 20. Sep 2018, 04:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remah View Post
It seems to me that it would be worthwhile having an article on Gizmo's that summarizes all the points being made. I may just write one if nobody else does.
A good suggestion Remah. It will be great if you can add that article to benefit our readers in addition to the related articles that we have like Best Free Portable Applications and A Guide to Portable Applications.

In my case I'm using both a portable and an installed version of Notepad++, with shortcuts and different icons pinned to the taskbar. I set the portable version to open up in a small window for notepad replacement, whereas the installed version to open up in a maximized window to edit html files for the TSA site.

Notepad++ does support multiple instances of the application but I still need both versions to run for the obvious reason abovementioned.
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Old 20. Sep 2018, 08:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remah View Post
The main conflict with two scanners running at the same time is competition for resources which gets worse if both are scanning the same drive at the same time; in the worst case, two scanners running in parallel can take much longer than two scanners running one after the other.
you're right, that's why I mentioned I don't run virus scanner often anymore. Instead, I pretty much sandbox my OS partition and anything that is downloaded by myself is uploaded to virus total through their plugin/app. I let them "scan" it for me before installing/running anything

Since I sandbox my OS partition/it clears any changes at shutdown, my data partition houses my portable apps so they don't get cleared at shutdown and changes/settings get saved between reboots. I'm not worried about my portable app being corrupted/compromised, easy enough to delete folder/replace. I didn't want my OS being corrupted though hence the sandbox/portable app combination. It's been years I think but I think I mentioned my setup on this site before, or it might have been a different one

I'd like to see a portable apps article too, hoping someone mentions a use for it other than what I use it for. Or maybe arguments for why I shouldn't use them in certain cases. <--- Programs/Games that tie into OS/dll/whatever (I don't know my terms well enough) that uses heavy graphics/resources/cpu processing seem to do better for me being installed vs portable. I don't know why but they do.
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