Portable Apps for Flash Drives

The ultimate travel PC? – Joe

SUMMARY: The ultimate travel PC?

With USB flash drives breaking the 1 GB mark at very affordable prices, drives with multi-GB capacities open up interesting new possibilities in portable computing. One example I reviewed is the Corsair Survivor 32 GB USB Drive.

What makes these drives so interesting is the availability of Portable Apps – these are programs specifically designed to run on flash drives without leaving any data on the host PC and run easily on flash drives (Links to portable app compilations are at the end of this article).

There are programs available which acts as a start menu – one I’m using is called PStart:


Click on PStart and it opens your flash drive start menu:


PStart also places a small icon in the host PC’s task tray:


Click on it and it brings up this menu:


You can set the menu choices so that they open with one click. What I found was that it does take longer for apps to boot up from the flash drive compared to the same program on a system drive – for Firefox and Thunderbird, it took twice as long to open. Once on the host PC, however, there was minimal difference between running these programs on the PC and the flash drive (obvious choice: get the fastest one possible).

I use Firefox and Thunderbird mail, so importing files from my laptop to the Corsair drive gives me the same Bookmarks and Contacts between the two. Open Office and GIMP gives me the productivity and image editing apps that I might need when on vacation. You don’t even have to depend on the host PC’s CD burning program – AMOK and InfraRecorder are two very nice portable apps.

As I see using the Corsair for traveling, one neat app that I recommend is WeatherMate – this gives weather forecasts all over the world. Another that might be useful are calendar programs – a handy way to keep your travel data in one place.

The downside to the “Flash Drive PC” is that you need a host machine to run the apps. I have never had a problem finding an internet cafe anywhere I traveled, so unless you have some really heavy work to do (on vacation?), using a flash drive in an internet cafe is a viable option to consider.

One other use that might be interesting – use a flash drive for your email program; this short circuits the “sync” issue among multiple PCs.


Portable apps and multi-GB flash drives open up some new possibilities for the mobile PC; not perfect, but what a boon for the “light” traveler.

Email Joe

Appendix: Portable Application Software

The following are links to various free portable application software:




Wikipedia – PortableApps

Makeuseof.com – 100 Portable Software Apps

PenDriveApps.com – Extensive apps list

18 Portable apps that every tech needs

Portable open source software

55 Portable apps for making a USB super stick

Freewarelist portable apps

App-stick.com – Extensive links

The following How-Tos are to install OSs:

USB Windows
and USB Ubuntu

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