10 Useful Portable Applications to Run On Your USB Drive

Portable applications are modified versions of a desktop application that can be run on a USB drive. iPods, USB flash drives, external hard drives or any other portable device can be used. When the applications are stored on said device, the application can be used on any computer running the proper operating system by being plugged into the USB port on a computer. Most of the portable applications are still operating system dependent, but many have cross platform versions. Many open source and a few OEM applications have a portable counterparts. Numerous utility programs are available in a portable version as well.

Choose Wisely

When choosing a portable drive to use, there are a couple things to think about. Not every portable drive will work well for running an application. The write and read speed is crucial here. If the flash drive has a low speed, it will not work for running Firefox portable for example. Too much data is going back and forth so the program will freeze up or crash. I’m not saying you need to spend a lot of money on a drive, just take a look at the specifications before you buy. Something to take into consideration if you are using a SD card, there may be speed limitations imposed by the device the card is in.

1. PStart

PStart is essentially a start menu for information on your USB drive. This handy little application hangs out in the tool bar and runs in the background. When right clicked, a screen pops up and shows all of the programs you have added shortcuts for. Believe me, when I found this amazing little piece of software, it made using my USB drive A LOT easier.

2. Pidgin

Pidgin is an on open source instant messaging client. There are plug-ins which allow it to work with almost all the protocols available including Facebook, twitter and Myspace. Some other plug-ins allow people on your buddy list to see what your listening to on Last.fm or various other media players while you type to them.

3. VLC

VLC is known to most as a simplistic media player that plays any kind of audio or video format you can throw at it. That being said, there is no reason not to have this in your portable arsenal.

4. Firefox

Firefox is another no brainer. It offers all the functionality of the web version, except it fits in your pocket. All of the add-ons and special feature you may use when you are at home are now travel sized. The beauty of using Firefox from the USB drive is, none of your information is left on the computer you are using; Everything is saved on the portable drive. Other Mozilla applications such as Thunderbird and Sunbird are available in a portable version too.

5. uTorrent

uTorrent is a very popular and very light weight BitTorrent client. It uses a very low amount of system resources making it a great addition to any portable drive.


Gimp is a great free replacement for Photoshop. The main difference between GIMP and Photoshop are the menus.

7. KeePass Password Safe

KeePass Password Safe saves you from having to remember all of your passwords. You choose one master password, that’s it. Isn’t that a lot easier than remembering the log in for all of your email accounts, network password and log in info for all those websites? I thought so.

8. Filezilla

Filezilla is a FTP uploader. If you have a website or blog and need to upload files while on the go, this is your go to application. With its drag and drop support and straight forward set up, it is a great cross platform FTP uploader.

9. 7Zip

7Zip is a great file decompression software that works with 18 different file types. It can also compress files into 5 different file types. The compression rate is greater than Winzip.

10. Sudoku

Sudoku is a very addictive game that I would have a hard time leaving out. It is always a good idea to have a way to let your mind wander; With a game that makes you think in a strategic way, your exercising your brain as you play. How can anyone say exercising your mind is a waste of time? If you aren’t into games like this, other games are out there like poker, minesweeper knockoffs and others.

What other applications do you take with you on the road?

Trevor Dobrygoski
Trevor Dobrygoski

Trevor is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from the Android OS to free web and desktop applications. When he is not writing about mobile productivity, He is coaching and playing the world's greatest game... Soccer.

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