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Old 31. Jul 2013, 03:44 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by George.J View Post
... you could use portable launchers like Launchy or Portable Start Menu (which I use) for ease of use.
I'm using Portable Start Menu right on my desktop (Windows 7) and a new laptop (Windows 8). Looks like a must have tool to me now.
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Old 31. Jul 2013, 04:34 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I imagine that Maxthon (portable version) will run a whole lot faster copy/pasted over to my HD than it ran on my flash drive. But, why do I/you want to do that instead of just installing it? Please help me understand?
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I'm sorry, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around putting portable apps on your hard drive instead of just installing them?! Again, I thought they were called "portable apps" so you could take them with you....
Yes Kendall, they are called portable apps, because you can carry them with you on a flash drive.

Consider the example of you using Maxthon itself. You carry portable Maxthon on your flash drive, and it will run fine from there. The settings, files, etc., all will remain in its folder only. So, you can use Maxthon from your flash drive anywhere... at office, at home, at a friend's place.. anywhere... and you won't need to install the program at a PC.

If you needed to install a program on a PC every time you needed to use it, it would be a bit troublesome, because every time you would have to set the settings that you want, afresh. But, since portable programs run from their own folder, and use the settings from there itself, you do not have to worry about settings, etc. Just use them from the flash drive itself, or, copy them on to a system you want to use them on, and they will run just fine, without any extra configuration, at all.

Since a portable program will show the same behavior on a hard disk, and it will also run faster from hard disk, you can use the portable program on the PC by copying it on hard disk too. When you are finished, and if you have made any changes in program settings, you can just copy the whole folder back to your flash drive, replacing it with the folder on flash drive, and all your settings used on the PC are now on the flash drive too.

That's the main use of portable programs, and that was the main purpose of portable apps... that you can carry the program with all its settings, files, etc, on a flash drive, and use it anywhere, without bothering about installation.

But people have started to use portable programs for different reasons as posted by different members in this thread. Nowadays, people mostly use portable programs, because these do not write entries in registries, or do not create folders/files all over the place in Windows. So, if you want to get rid of the program, all you have to do it just delete its folder and it's gone. No hunting for leftovers. Perfect for trying out a software.

Some people also use it because portable programs are devoid of toolbars, and extra bundled software... simply because there is no installation involved.. how will they bundled software?

So, that's the reason people use portable software on their hard drives now. Any type of program can be used as a portable software.

I hope it's a bit more clear now.
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Old 31. Jul 2013, 05:17 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Thank you all very much! I have learned a ton!

My only regret is that I didn't start using portable apps a lot sooner. I suspect that I'd have less "junk" on my PC if I had.

Now, to go over to the main site and research the various portable apps that are availalble and start using them and deleting their non-portable counterparts on my PC....

P.S. I have downloaded and will be installing "Portable Start Menu" to check it out.

P.S.S. I especially like the idea about using portable apps on your hard drive and then copying it over to your flash drive so that your flash drive portable app is always up-to-date with my settings, etc. Great suggestion!
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Old 31. Jul 2013, 08:46 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Please note that the How-to-Geek article has erroneous information in it. Here are two articles that I wrote on symbolic links:

Symbolic links, Hard Links, Soft Links, Junctions - What They Are

Symbolic links, Hard Links, Soft Links, Junctions - Creation and Use
Thanks for the comment and the links to the articles - symbolic links aren't something I've ever had a need to learn about really, other than out of general interest, so apologies everyone for posting a link to an inaccurate article.

Thanks also Anupam for sorting this thread out
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Old 31. Jul 2013, 08:46 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Kendall, I too regret not using portable apps sooner, but then again I didn't know much about them or their pros and cons. I suppose it's all part of learning.

Personally, I don't know whether it's worth your while to uninstall a program just to replace it with it's portable version. For example, I already have CCleaner and SUPERAntiSpyware, but I didn't replace them with their portable counterparts. As I see it, these programs have already created their files, folders, registry entries, and what not, so in a sense "the damage is already done". Also, they work well as it is, and I have no complaints. That's my reasoning at least, but I may be missing something. Perhaps someone can convince me otherwise?

On the other hand, if I'm replacing an installed program with a different one that's portable, I have no qualms about getting rid of the former once it serves no purpose.

Portable Start Menu does looks useful, and I may give it a try later on. However, at the moment I just have a handful of portable apps, and desktop shortcuts works well enough for now. (Also, I don't run portables from a flashdrive... yet!). The time may come though when my portable collection grows and gets out of hand (or I really need portability), and that's when Portable Start Menu should come in handy.
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Old 02. Aug 2013, 08:37 PM   #26 (permalink)
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What occured to me while reading this thread, is that although almost all of the software that I use is portable, I never run it from flash drives or usb drives. Instead I just have a large directory on D:\ containing it all.

The main advantage for me is that it means that my system drive (C:\) is always relatively minimal and untouched. The only stuff I have on C:\ is Windows itself, plus a few installations that are needed by some software (e.g. DirectX 9, dotnetfx, Quicktime Alternative, Flash, Python, WinPCap) plus some Explorer "enhancements" such as Classic Shell and Ux Theme Patcher.

There are some programs which just can't be made portable ... for example anything that installs its own drivers or system services such as TimeFreeze, Sandboxie, Comodo Internet Security, virtual CD drives and some commercial audio software that I use. A lot of games too.

Other programs just work better when installed, e.g. Libre Office - the portable version takes forever to start up so on my work PC I have it installed. TeraCopy integrates better into Windows when installed, and some apps like Malwarebytes just don't distribute a portable version. gPodder seems to really hate being portable, but I only use it about once a week so I live with it.

Other than those few, everything I use runs from D:\Portable Apps. It just means that when I wipe/restore my system drive, which I do quite frequently, I have a fresh and minimal installation of Windows on one drive and everything else is ready to go on the other. A lot of them do write to the registry or Appdata on first run, especially if I want them to be integrated into Windows in some way, e.g. as default file handlers in which case registry entries are unavoidable, or if I want context menu entries which also require registry edits.

There are disadvantages. For instance file associations can be a pain if the program itself doesn't have the ability to set them. Or indeed even when it does. I use the Paf version of IrfanView sometimes, but I've never managed to make it my default image viewer, whereas FastStone Viewer does this easily.

Behaviour blockers and HIPS software can give portable apps a hard time ... the reason for this, I think, is that some portable versions create virtual files every time they run, which to BB/HIPS look like new files as they have a different hash signature each time they are created. I have quite a few Cameyo programs which can't run unless I disable Comodo's auto-sandbox security.

Programs which combine with other programs, often don't handle portability very well. For example download managers when installed will look for your browser in C:\Program Files\ and if it isn't there it can be a pain to make it work properly, although this is changing now. FreeDownloadManager for instance now has an option for locating Firefox Portable. The same problem can arise with pdf viewers if you want to use them to view pdfs in your browser. CCleaner too doesn't find portable browsers on its own so you have to manually tell it where to look to clean up.

By and large though, there's generally some work-around which to me is preferable to installing programs.

I think the other attraction that portable software has for me, is that it can really be a bit of a challenge sometimes to make it work properly/at all.
Using such software, as well as making my own portable versions of programs, has probably taught me as much about Windows than anything else has, especially in learning my way around the registry.

Portable versions can be a great way to try out a new program if you're not sure that you'll want to keep it. Having said that though a lot of them do make system changes in the registry and Appdata ... something like System Explorer's snapshot module and MooO File Monitor, can be very handy in discovering whether a portable app does this.

Lastly, I think you're right Joe. If you already have installed programs that work well and that you're happy with, then there's little to be gained in trying to replace them with portable versions of themselves. Aside from anything else, program uninstallers are notoriously un-thorough so you'd just end up with the portable version plus whatever the uninstaller failed to remove. I'd probably only suggest looking at portable replacements if you ever find yourself starting afresh with a clean installation of Windows.

Last edited by sicknero; 02. Aug 2013 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 03. Aug 2013, 04:39 AM   #27 (permalink)
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There are some programs which just can't be made portable ... for example A lot of games too.
95% of the games could be run as portable, although not probably stealth portable, if you simply install it in Sandboxie and cut-paste the contents over to a certain drive.
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Old 03. Aug 2013, 08:06 AM   #28 (permalink)
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When you say or use the term "portable" my automatic assumption is that you are referring to programs that you put on a flash drive or a zip drive.
Zip drive?
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Old 03. Aug 2013, 09:13 AM   #29 (permalink)
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95% of the games could be run as portable, although not probably stealth portable, if you simply install it in Sandboxie and cut-paste the contents over to a certain drive.
I've done that successfully with a few, using Vbox and more recently Timefreeze.

I'm not sure about 95% though - some do run very happily but a lot don't work at all. Some are fine with just being copied across as you say, but some I've needed to use proper capture/repackage software.
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Old 03. Aug 2013, 09:27 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I've done that successfully with a few, using Vbox and more recently Timefreeze.

I'm not sure about 95% though - some do run very happily but a lot don't work at all. Some are fine with just being copied across as you say, but some I've needed to use proper capture/repackage software.
3D Games utilize the graphic drivers which are already present on your system. If you have already installed DirectX, VC++ versions etc, you can simply install any game inside the Sandboxie and copy-paste the contents over.

Worked on almost all games I tested, including the most recent ones, like Batman Arkham City and Bioshock Infinite.
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