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Portable Apps can save you a lot of time

If you’ve ever had to install a new hard disk in your computer, or upgraded your computer or just worked on someone else’s computer for a while then you know how easy it would be if you just had access to your email and favourite applications in an instant. Luckily you can with Portable Apps.

This neat little tool provide you with an extra menu that works a bit like the windows start menu (except for Windows 8 of course). The cool bit is that all applications and even Portable Apps itself (as the name indicates) are truly portable. This means that they do not have to be installed, the do not update the dreaded Windows Registry and they do not touch the internal hard disk if you have Portable Apps on a USB dongle or external hard disk.

Portable Apps Menu

Portable Apps Menu

The amount of applications available is growing. There is of course a limited number of apps available, mostly open source or shareware. But some of them are really high quality. So how could you use Portable Apps?

Scenario 1 – Your hard disk dies

Have you ever experienced that strange noise coming from your hard disk. It takes a while before you notice. After that you find it annoying, but before you realise that there could be something wrong Windows starts crashing, the dreaded blue screen of death is upon you. Afterwards you realise that the signs where there and that you should have known. Of course you have good backups, your data is all in the cloud or on an external drive.

Now you buy a new hard disk with the same or compatible interface and put it in the computer. You install Windows from your supplied CD and then comes the magic. Once Windows is up and running, you plug in your external disk or USB dongle and you start your Portable Apps “start.exe” from this external disk. And that’s it. Your applications are all there. And providing you use Mozilla Thunderbird as your email u have all your email there and can start working.

All that’s left to do is install your Windows Applications again. Tedious but at least you have your email and portable browser (like Chrome, Firefox or Opera) back.

Scenario 2 – You go on holiday

Or you go to visit the family. The have a computer, so all you take with you is your dongle (or external disk). You plug it in their computer have a quick check on your mail. You close your browser and mail application and Portable Apps. Then you safely remove hardware, and join the conversation again. Easy peasy.

Scenario 3 – You want to make a backup

Making a backup of your important data on the external drive is really easy. You can either use the backup menu and choose from the following options:

Portable Apps - Backup Dialog

Portable Apps – Backup Dialog

  1. Complete – Copies all files, use this if you want all your applications as well as data backed up;
  2. App Data – All application settings, use this for your application settings (ahem) which also includes for instance your Thunderbird emails;
  3. Documents – All files in the Documents folder

I usually use only App Data and Documents. If there was ever a problem with the external disk, I could just download the applications I use from the Apps -> Get More Apps… menu once I’ve installed the Portable Apps main application.

Couple of tips:

  • Use Ctrl+Alt+Space to quickly open the Portable Apps menu
  • Applications are normally automatically checked for updates when you start Portable Apps. Handy and no need to install a separate update checker that normal applications burden your computer with. Make sure you uncheck any check for updates in the application options themselves.
  • Right click on any app in the Portable Apps menu to set some options (Favorite, Uninstall, Start Automatically etc.)

This has saved my hours of my time. Try it out for yourself, just go to