This list provides a collection of portable apps from across Gizmo's Freeware and other sites. Portable freeware is an amazing development and is forcing software vendors to adjust their wasteful ways.
They reduce problems with uninstalling software (you just delete them and don't have to worry about failed installs or incomplete uninstalls), they allow for extra flexibility in copying or moving software to different locations on a portable device or on a PC, and they help improve your privacy and security by running from portable devices like flash drives.
Take your "computer setup" with you, keep every piece of free software that impresses you or run them, say, at a library. I suggest starting a collection, or an army actually, of your favorite portable apps instead of trying to minimize the number of programs you install.
Step 1: At each download site make sure to get the "portable" or "standalone" version. Most sites clearly label it as such. Usually it's a regular file name ending with EXE, ZIP, or PAF.EXE (usually, but not always, without words like "setup" in the download file name).
· EXE files run "as is", or they self-extract after you double-click them.
· ZIP files must be extracted first. Right-click the ZIP folder > "Extract All...", or double click on it if you associate archive files with something like 7-Zip.
· If the downloaded file ends with PAF.EXE, just double-click it and install it to a folder of your choice (and if you copy over the previous version of a program it even deletes the older version first).
· Other download formats usually have a special launcher (such as the downloads for LiberKey). But sometimes you choose portable as an option during installation (Foobar music player comes to mind).
Step 2: It's a good idea to create a folder for your portable apps, if you haven't already. I suggest creating a sub folder for each program within your portable folder or moving its existing folder to your portable folder (as long as they allow for relative paths; a few don't and would quit working if you move them around freely). In any case, after you get the portable app functional, you must make a shortcut to it:
· The easiest way is to create a shortcut in a portable launcher (or the portable launcher that comes with a suite of portable programs). PStart, for example, allows you to drag and drop EXE files and automatically create a shortcut in its launcher. Whereas, PortableApps Suite type launchers automatically search its PortableApps folder and add shortcuts for you after you refresh or restart the launcher (just as long as you create individual folders for all your portable apps).
· Or go to your portable apps folder, right-click on the main application for the portable app (usually it's the one with a recognizable icon and a large file size), and select "Create Shortcut" or "Send to > Desktop". Then simply right-click the shortcut and select "pin to start menu" (Vista), or drag the shortcut to the start menu.
· Read How to Manually Create a Program Launcher for an interesting approach (the approach I'm using).
· Or upload your portable apps to an online backup site, such as Windows Live Skydrive, if you intend on using them on various computers.
TruPortable: Portability + Stealth
We will start marking applications as "TruPortable" if they work as standalone apps and run without waste (few significant registry entries, few auto installation features, little need for user tweaking, etc.).
This excludes registry entries automatically created by windows. An application must work from a flash drive and run without problems on most computers. We also require no user involvement (to make an app portable). For this designation, we want apps to do their job and leave the rest of the computer alone!
Best Free Portable Apps for Security & Privacy
xB Browser -- Download |
Description: "A portable version of Firefox with a well integrated Tor engine that uses the free Tor network. It's easy to setup and doesn't require advanced knowledge, but you will have to use it as a second browser for anonymous surfing in contrast to Vidalia or JonDo that also support normal browsing." (Creates an empty folder in the user profile.)
The drawback to xB Browser is that it's browser specific to Firefox. Users who prefer to use a different browser, can try JonDo. JonDo works with other browsers, but you may have to follow guides to get all the settings right. But JonDo also recommends a Firefox solution:
Another option is to use a Portable Firefox with the JonDo-Portable service and the JonDoFox configuration. The advantage is that the JonDoFox configuration comes with many other specially selected security addons (NoScript, CS-Lite, Adblock Plus), installs as an alternate profile (allowing you to switch between normal and anonymizing profiles), and allows proxy switching between the Tor or JonDo anonymizing networks. However, the JonDo-Portable service requires Java and is more resource intensive.
Best Free Portable Security Addons/Extensions:
Site Adviser (WOT), Script Blocker (NoScript), Malware and Privacy Filterer (Adblock Plus), and Password Manager (LastPass, portable version)
Description: The best security practice is to prevent malware from infecting your system before you have to cure it (before you have to worry about trying to remove some tricky rootkit), and no security setup is 100% sound. So site advisors like WOT or LinkExtend help flag sites with poor reputations and help you avoid them altogether. WOT even has a warning and blocking screen to stop you from interacting with malicious sites.
Adblock Plus gets a lot of recognition for blocking ads and cleaning up your surfing experience (for good reason, of course), but it also allows you to subscribe to many other filters to help avoid malware domains or to protect your privacy (see the Malware Domains & EasyList/EasyPrivacy filters, for example).
Last but not least, I suggest a password manager (such as LastPass, my choice as of now) to avoid having to enter passwords or forms (opening yourself to keyloggers). Before you ask, KeyScrambler isn't portable!
Most of these are so popular that they work on multiple browsers, but a few require Firefox, such as NoScript and Adblock Plus (but its filter subscriptions can be used with Chromium browsers). But other browsers have alternatives to these that afford similar protection.
It's not an addon/extension, but you can further protect your portable browser with DropMyRights. You can create a "safe icon" for your portable browser(s) and add DropMyRights to your portable folder.
Best Free Portable Anti-Malware:
Description: ClamWin is a popular choice for portable malware scanning; it makes the top spot here mainly for lack of competition from truly portable apps! In any case, it scans for both viruses and spyware. But it won't provide real time protection, and it doesn't have scheduling or program updating in the portable version. It allows you to update the database with the newest threats any time you want , but dialup users will have great difficulty getting them initially, if they are patient enough to get them at all (it took me a morning while surfing around doing other stuff!). Verified TruPortable.
Be sure to upload any newly downloaded or suspicious files to an online multi-scanner such as Virustotal or Jotti before copying them to your flash drive and use ClamWin for regular scanning. Additionally, I suggest periodic scanning with your regular antivirus and antispyware software when you can. Many of the best antivirus and antispyware scanners/removers must be installed.
General Tips: Safe Portable App-ing
Additional Portable Apps for Anti-Malware Removal
· SUPERAntiSpyware: www.superantispyware.com/portablescanner.html
· Bootable CD/DVD: Avira Rescue
Description: Comodo System Cleaner continues to improve since the first time I saw it. It has three main cleaners (disk, privacy, registry) and a "clean my computer" one-click button to run them all. It uses a two step "safe delete or registry protection" procedure to prevent you from deleting essential files or registry entries, including a built-in backup and restore tab and a restart of the computer. The second step requires you to restart the computer before finalizing its actions. In addition, it allows you to set a new restore point before cleaning for a third safety precaution. Why all the fuss? Well, automated cleaning is risky business, so also be sure to have a good backup of your files and a drive image.
It also comes with many other cleaning and system utilities. You can manage autorun entries (startup-up programs, services, etc.), erase selected files/folders or the free space, view system information, uninstall software, and tweak system settings. It downloads a help file through an updater if you need it; otherwise, the internal updater is disabled in the portable version. Creates files and folders in your user folder ("ComodoGroup" in "roaming").
Best Free Portable Disk Defragmenter:
Description: "A solid combination of performance, stability and usability from Piriform. With a very clean interface design based on the common Windows defrag interface, Defraggler is incredibly easy to use and offers all the options you need to keep your machine running smoothly – including the ability to defragment individual files and folders as well as an in-built defragmentation scheduler." Verified TruPortable.
All of the portable websites have ignored MyDefrag's existence so far. It doesn't help that its author argues against any positive reasons for someone wanting to have a "no-install" version (here). However, MyDefragGUI ignores JK's reservations and makes MyDefrag portable. MyDefragGUI is an alternate interface designed to make running MyDefrag easier. It's an excellent choice for boot optimization and multiple sorting/optimizing scripts. The daily optimization script in particular helps to balance the wear and tear caused by defragging itself with the benefits of defragging (in saving wear and tear over time).
Alternate Products: MyDefragGUI
Description: One of the essentials for a portable collection and getting closer and closer to an all-in-one utility. It hits several of our articles for different purposes and could compete for many more. "It's very effective in freeing up disk space by removing unused and temporary files, cookies, Recycle bin entries, history and cache files in many applications, and much more."
Plus it cleans the registry, manages the startup, uninstalls software, securely erases anything it deletes, wipes the free space and MFT, deletes old system restore points, manages cookies, or runs as a task with the /AUTO command argument. Verified TruPortable.
Best Free Portable Memory Optimizer:
Description: Some people argue that memory optimizers aren't needed anymore. "But CleanMem seems to work and it helps you automatically recover memory and file cache space to improve performance. The program will install and run every 30 min via the windows task scheduler. It doesn't run in the background constantly."
Just extract the ZIP download file to a folder of your choice and click "schtasks.exe" for it to run automatically by the task scheduler, but don't use either of the BAT files since they aren't needed in the portable version and they install files to c:\windows\system32.
Best Free Portable Secure Delete:
Description: It's easy to recover deleted files unless you routinely wipe the file data away. Eraser "overwrites the data area with your choice of random data patterns, and also wipes data in the recycling bin, unused disk space, and a number of other places where data can secretly lurk." Creates an INI file in C:\windows.
Many file cleaners include secure erasing such as CCleaner and Revo Uninstaller. But even if you securely delete files with something like CCleaner, I recommend regular free space wiping to increase the effectiveness of erasure (1 pass is usually enough on modern drives).
Alternate Products: EraserDrop Portable
Best Free Portable Program Uninstaller:
Description: Revo uninstalls software and scans for any leftover remnants. It's "the only freeware product I know of that will make a decent job of cleaning up a failed install." Additionally, click "Tools" for its startup manager, list of windows tools, and junk files scanner. Don't miss the "Tracks Cleaner" right below the Junk Scanner for its several other cleaners (browser cleaner, Office cleaner, Windows cleaner, free space wiper, file shredder). Verified TruPortable.
Automatically Uninstall Junk from a New PC: PC Decrapifier (TruPortable)
Best Free Portable Startup Manager:
Description: If you have many unnecessary startup programs and tray icons hogging your RAM space and slowing your PC, then you can get many specialized startup managers beyond CCleaner and Revo above. For users who want to manage all possible startups, Autoruns is a gem. It allows you to manage auto start programs by simply unchecking them (so you can turn them back on if you really did need them), but you can also manage scheduled tasks, services, drivers, sidebar gadgets, and many other things. Writes settings to registry.
Other users may be content with Starter or WinPatrol below.
Best Free Portable Windows Tweaker:
Description: Sometimes windows comes with more extras than you need or want, and sometimes its default applications have a mind of their own and represent a privacy or control threat to the user! You won't be able to completely get rid of Windows Media Player or Internet explorer with this tool, but it takes a good shot at them!
"UWT is a well equipped tweaker utility that supports Vista/Windows 7 (32/64 bit). Besides others it covers user account, security, performance and internet tweaking. The only thing that did not work on my 32Bit Vista Home Premium was the Network tweaking option. I received an error message and the page would not show. Still, UWT is a great tweaking utility worth a try." Copies files/folders to the system directory.
Description: One of the greatest names in freeware is the OpenOffice software suite for productivity, including word processing, spreadsheets, databases, powerpoint presentations, graphics, and a couple math apps. Merchants often advertise commercial counterparts to OpenOffice (mainly Microsoft Office) to customers buying a new PC, which come at a very expensive price. OpenOffice allows you to smirk back at them with confidence!
OpenOffice is free and open source, it does almost everything commercial suites do, and it saves/loads document formats compatible with Microsoft Office. You can get the PortableApps version or the winPenPack x-version. Verified TruPortable.
LibreOffice is proving to be very popular and well worth the down load and can be downloaded fromportableapps.com
If you need to use certain wizards or database functions, you will need Java Portable or to portablize Java. Otherwise it's not needed.
Other Download Sites: winPenPack's X-OpenOffice
Alternate Products: SoftMaker Office (no portable download and writes to registry, see steps to make it portable)
Best Free Portable Word Processor:
Description: If you only need a lightweight word processor, then AbiWord is an excellent choice. "It's a multi platform application and reads many standard document types (OpenOffice, MS Word, WordPerfect, RTF, HTML...)." You can add extra plugins and tools to enhance it (such as dictionaries or fonts), see here for how.
Alternate Products: Jarte (requires INI file to make it fully portable) | Tomahawk PDF+ (TruPortable)
Description: There are many lightweight alternatives to Adobe reader. PDF-XChange is an excellent choice for its good text clarity, and its ability to make annotations without watermarking. "It loads reasonably fast, prints PDFs, exports PDF documents to many formats (BMP, JPEG, TIFF, PNG), magnifies text, and extracts text and images. It also allows you to save and fill Adobe PDF forms." And the portable download is half the size of the regular installer. Verified TruPortable.
Alternate Products: Foxit Reader (writes settings to registry) | Cool PDF Reader (TruPortable) | Sumatra PDF Portable (TruPortable)
Best Free Portable Personal Finance Software:
Description: If you need specialized financial software to avoid messing around with custom spreadsheet functions, GNUCash can make things easier. "It will ease you into accounting equations and help you keep tabs of your budget. You are allowed to easily create as many accounts as you need. The program has a reporting and graphing module to generate a full suite of standard and customizable reports, including balance sheet, profit & loss, portfolio valuation, etc. On the downside, it doesn't provide encryption of files, but you can rely on third party encryption software to keep files confidential and secured if necessary." Its online banking features write settings to the registry.
If you need to automatically retrieve financial quotes, see just below here for information on Perl Portable.
Description: Personal Information Management (PIM) software helps store and organize your information electronically. EssentialPIM Free includes "tools to satisfy your calendar, contact management, to do list, notes and email needs." The portable version saves all your data in one file and encrypts it (with standard Rijndael, a 128 bit key). Get the "free portable" version (ZIP download).
EssentialPIM also has additional syncing and scheduling features: "It does many of the same things as Outlook and can import your Outlook data and/or Outlook Express contacts as well. There is no way to schedule repeating to-dos, but by creating an all day repeating "task" (which is essentially an appointment) you can effectively create a repeating to-do which begins before the day grid." Verified TruPortable.
Related Portable Apps
· Convert Images to PDF: i2pdf
· PDF Tools: PDFTK Builder Portable
· Sticky Notes: PNotes Portable
· Outliner: TKOutline
Description: XnView is "a heavyweight champion. Like Irfan, it's very versatile; it can read and display nearly 400 types of graphic files, and convert any of these to more than 50 formats. It displays images very quickly, and these may be viewed full screen, as slideshows or as thumbnails. It's quite capable at processing images, too; you can rotate, crop, resize, adjust brightness and color, apply filters or effects, create a web page and much more". To make it fully portable, see here.
This category has many excellent freeware options; make sure to check out IrfanView or FastStone Image Viewer below.
LightBox/Sagelight Image Editor -- Download
Description: If you just need a simple, basic editor than Lightbox is the top pick. It "has an attractive user interface that is straight forward, and offers intuitive slide-bar adjustments for your images. It also has split screen views to help you compare your images before and after the corrections have been made. It includes simple tools to correct red-eye, sharpen, crop, re-size, add borders, and print. The free version is a gem that you will want to check out". If you need more powerful features, check the alternatives below and the product review article.
Related Portable Apps
· Color Picker: Color Cop (v 5.3 only)
· Icon Editor and Replacer: Greenfish Editor Pro
· Photo Resizer: FastStone Photo Resizer
Description: Firefox is an excellent Internet browser to use for portable surfing, with many built-in security measures and addons. Additionally, you can run it from your flash drive so that most of your tracks will be stored on the flash drive and not on the computer you use. Note that some addons may not be portable.Creates crash files by default in the user AppData folder. In order to make it fully portable, see here.
Portable Firefox is excellent for use in a flash drive since it's specially configured to reduce reads/writes to the disk and to run faster from a portable device. But note that you must run only the FirefoxPortable EXE file, otherwise it won't be portable anymore. PortableApps is currently working on a portable version that allows trace free updates with the internal Firefox updater (at current it now works but with writing to the user folder).
Also note that the portable version is about 40 MBs more resource intensive than an installed version, so for home browsing you might want to use an installer rather than a portable version.
PortableApps has an excellent and informative download site for their version of Portable Firefox (use thePortableApps Guide for installation tips). You can also get the winPenPack X-Firefox version, but it's much more difficult to setup unless you use their suite.
Other Download Sites: winPenPack's x-Firefox
Other Portable Internet Browsers: SRWare Iron | OperaUSB/Opera Portable (TruPortable) | QtWeb(TruPortable)
Description: "It's a highly customizable email client with an intuitive user interface. Highly expandable through add-ons." I was surprised by how quickly it works and how easily it interacted with my online email provider (Gmail). It made a complete copy of my Gmail account and checked for any new messages regularly. The interface is very easy to navigate, considering it's just like Firefox (and that happens to be my main browser). That said, it's not a light application and some extensions may not be portable.
If you want a lightweight email client to run from the tray and just check your mail, then POP Peeper is an excellent option. See these steps to have POP Peeper store your data in its own folder. Another option is to set it to never store data to the disk, or manually enter its "data" folder path in the storage options.
Description: "For most users, I think Pidgin currently fits the bill best. It's easy-to-use, cleanly-designed, and very functional. Being non-commercial, open-source software makes it even easier to support. I can confidently recommend Pidgin as the first choice for a multi-protocol IM client." It aptly calls itself "the universal chat client." Check its home page for a long list of supported clients. Verified TruPortable.
Skype, on the other hand, allows free Skype-to-Skype phone calls with video, but it also has instant messaging and many other features (voicemail, SMS, forwarding). Also TruPortable.
Description: "Bittorrents are fast, equitable, and efficient download formats, and µTorrent is the most popular client for this format. Its positives are: Excellent performance on all test torrents. Small, lightest (tie) on system resources but has all the needed features. Excellent support. Always improving as a bittorrent client. Negatives: Several 'highly critical' security alerts (now patched) were issued in 2008 by Secunia." Followthese steps to force it to write settings to its own folder.
Best Free Portable Download Manager:
Description: "A good choice for its stability and support for various browsers. Supports IE, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari. Other features include simultaneous multi-part downloads, flash video download, restart and recover, powerful scheduler, management of downloaded files, downloads from RapidShare, prioritized and partial torrent downloads, etc." Writes some non-user oriented settings to the registry.
Alternate Products: DownThemAll! (Firefox Extension)
Description: "FTP clients are programs that reside on a PC, enabling fast bulk file transfers between the PC and a server. They are very useful when you need to download or transfer more than a few files and are an essential tool for website management."
"With a robust feature set, ease of use, and browser integration, FireFTP should serve the needs of all (except perhaps the heaviest power users) and is quickly becoming one of my favorite FTP clients."
Alternate Products: FileZilla
Related Portable Apps
· HTML Editor: KompoZer Portable
· Website Ripper: HTTrack Portable
· Download/Upload Meter: MISPBO Network Monitor
Description: InfraRecorder is a common choice for a simple burner (its the top pick at PortableApps.com & Lupo PenSuite for example), but ImgBurn is our "Top Pick" and can be made portable (see alternate products). InfraRecorder is portable out-of-box and therefore excellent for average users. It can create data discs, audio & video discs, write images for bootable discs, copy discs, read discs, and erase/format discs. The welcome screen is optional, but its built-in help didn't work for me.
"It works with all types of CDs and DVDs including dual layer discs. It even includes full command line support like CDBurnerXP. The interface is clean and simple without a lot of extras to make things confusing. InfraRecorder is a respectable burning program, but it has a few disadvantages as well. It does not support Blu-Ray discs or HD-DVDs. It also does not include many advanced options for tweaking the burn process to perfection like ImgBurn. Its interface isn’t as nice as that of BurnAware Free, and it doesn’t have any extra features like CDBurnerXP." Verified TruPortable.
Alternate Products: CDBurnerXP (requires Microsoft .NET Framework) although it does have disk spanning feature which is easy to use.
Description: Media players are good for playing your audio and video files and CDs/DVDs. The KM Player is "easy to use and install, has awesome playback, and plays most everything without need to download extra codec packs, making it easy to use for those with less experience. Other features include setting multifarious audio and video effects, slow down or increase playback speed with regular tone, etc."
First you need to click on the download file to have it self-extract to a folder of your choice. Then it requires a simple setting change in the interface to make it portable: use a right click on it anywhere > Options > Preferences > General > check "Store settings to KMPCfg.ini". See an alternative option here.
None of the media players run with stealth and variously write to the registry or user folder.
Description: Sometimes media players are not enough for music lovers, and we have to search around for a suitable music player by trial and error. Jaangle has an intuitive and user-friendly interface for playing music, an excellent library for music managing, and very interesting download capabilities of artist photos/bios, song lyrics, etc. Download and extract the "files only" version.
However, it doesn't rip or convert music files, but to do that try BonKEnc (TruPortable).
Description: Once upon a time, I often resorted to Windows Media Player (WMP) mainly because it's rather good for the initial tasks of tagging and cover art finding. But TagScanner is even better and allows me to shut down WMP for good! It "supports basic and extended tags and is complete with Music Renamer and Tag Processor. You can preview tags and cover artwork from an online database before saving. However, it does not come with a normal windows menu. You may need to spend some time to get yourself familiarized with its user interface". Verified TruPortable.
Description: The vendor describes Avidemux as a "free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks". It has many tutorials and guides at its Wiki to help with these tasks. It's "designed for multi-purpose video editing and processing, and can be used on almost all known operating systems and computer platforms. It's simple to use and supports many file types, including AVI, MPEG, MP4, and ASF". Writes settings to user folder.
Alternate Product: VirtualDub (TruPortable)
Related Portable Apps
· CD Ripper/Converter: CDex Beta (see steps to make it portable)
· Audio / Video Format Conversion Program: iWisoft Free Video Converter (see steps to make it portable)
Description: Toucan has a simple interface for syncing and backing up. It allows you to easily keep the same files and folders on multiple locations. If you want to sync to a flash drive, just use its "mirror (update)" function to periodically add new programs and remove unwanted programs from the flash drive. Or use its backup tab to archive your folders and files to a backup location. The encryption and other components look much more complicated for some users. But it comes with a help manual if you need its advanced features.
"If you are looking for a light weight portable backup solution this little app has your number. It supports incremental and differential backups, zip or 7-zip compression, AES 256 bit encryption using ccrypt, and a simple restore feature." Verified TruPortable.
Another interesting approach is to backup portable apps or your essential archives to a secure online backup site. For example, Windows Live Skydrive allows 25 GB of space, or use DropBox if you don't need as much space and want to share files. See our review for other options.
FileHippo Update Checker -- Download
Description: Keeping software up-to-date is sometimes essential for security, especially with critical Windows updates and risky software (browsers, office document apps, media players, PDF viewers, Java/Flash player plugins, etc.). Secunia OSI is an excellent online app to run every once in awhile, but it requires the Java plugin. It searches for apps with security flaws, and it scans for Windows patches to make sure you haven't forgotten or ignored the sometimes annoying Windows update messages! But it's limited to risky and common software.
To check for newer versions of the rest of your software, you can use a general software update monitor to automatically search your PC for applications in need of updates. FileHippo's Update Checker is "easy to use and provides direct download links" from a very reliable site. You can also click on "Settings" and add custom search locations, such as for your portable app folders. But it only searches for the updates of apps listed on its download site, so it may not be enough on its own and may require supplemental manual update checking.Writes setting changes to registry.
Best Free Portable Screen Capture Utility:
Description: Again Windows comes with only very basic screen capture features. You can use the "Print Screen" button to copy the screen to the clipboard (or hit ALT at the same time to copy an active window to the clipboard), but PicPick has better flexibility and features, and many additional tools. It's "user friendly and suitable for most average users. A right click on the tray icon shows a context menu for capturing full screen, active window, window control, rectangular, fixed or freehand region. Supports auto-scroll, dual monitors, sound effect and multiple formats. An image editor is included, plus extra features such as a color picker, screen ruler, protractor, cross hair and whiteboard." Verified TruPortable.
Alternate Products: FastStone Capture (TruPortable)
Best Free Portable File Manager:
Description: If you have had two or three windows Explorers open, then you might benefit from a feature rich file manager. xplorer² lite "is easy to use and learn, has a similar interface to Windows Explorer, and supports dual panes and folder tabs." Now, if I could just remember to use it! Verified TruPortable.
Description: Encrypts your files to protect your personal information while in transit or in cases of stolen or lost computers or flash drives, or just to lock out prying eyes and malware from your personal or private files. "TrueCrypt is a seasoned, widely-used encryption program. Its open source status allows the all-important peer review of the source code required for a trustworthy encryption program." Limited function in portable version and writes settings to registry.
Other types of freeware also encrypt to some extent, such as file archive and folder sync programs.
Related Articles: Portable Mode/Traveler Mode | Encryption is Not Enough | Encryption Utility for Work
Alternate Products: FreeOTFE (Creates entries in registry)
Best Free Portable Zip Utility:
Description: A much better app for archiving is the portable 7-Zip. It allows you to compress, encrypt, and set passwords for your backups. I found it easy to use. It was especially good for uncompressing files/folders in its file manager. "It's easy to install, gives meaningful error messages, and is capable of uncompressing from multiple embedded files. Even though it handles fewer archive types than some other programs, it's a fantastic program that will fill 99% of all your file archiving needs." Verified TruPortable.
Use Peazip or IZArc (etc.) below if you need additional formats.
Best Free Portable Data Recovery / File Un-delete Utility:
Description: Recuva is a "quick simple solution, copes well with the flash memory used in digital cameras, MP3 players, or USB drives". It recovers files from damaged or formatted drives, deleted emails (Outlook, Thunderbird Windows Live), and deleted iPod music. On its default settings, it has fast scans, but if you need to do a deep scan to find a deleted file, then it will take much longer. Make sure to recover files to a different drive to improve your chances of recovery. As a nice extra, it can erase most files it finds. Verified TruPortable.
Best Free Portable System Information Utility:
Description: Windows has some built-in system information features in its control panel. But SIW is a much better option and it does even more than all the scattered Windows tools lurking in unseen places. It "displays detailed specs for motherboard, BIOS, CPU, devices, memory, video, disk drives, ports, printers, operating system, installed programs, processes, services, serial numbers (CD keys), users, open files, system uptime, network, network shares, as well as real-time monitors for CPU, memory, page file usage and network traffic. It also displays currently active network connections, passwords hidden behind asterisks, installed codecs, and more."
I did receive an antivirus warning for its Eureka password revealer, but that's a false positive if user initiated. The network activity meter didn't work for me (probably my firewall is the culprit). And I much prefer to use the handy Process Explorer to view running processes and CPU/Memory activity. But the great thing about SIW is that it brings together all your system information into one portable app. Verified TruPortable. Advisory: SIW is bundled with OpenCandy. More information here.
Description: "It finds files on your hard drive faster than any product we’ve tested. Even on a terabyte sized drives containing hundreds of thousands of files your search results appear near instantaneously. That’s impressive in itself but there's more. Everything indexes your disks in seconds rather than hours. That means no more laborious background indexing that slows your computer to a crawl. Everything only searches file names not the contents of files. However in this role it is a product without peer." Verified TruPortable.
Related Portable Apps
· Process Viewer: Process Explorer (Writes settings to registry)
· PortableApps Suite Launcher (platform only)
· The Portable Freeware Collection: It's the only choice here without a program launcher and suite, but it's one of the very best places for portable apps and commentary. It rates programs on stealth and provides tips on making them portable if needed. You can also look at download stats, user comments, dependencies, and products in similar categories. The search engine returns portable apps and forum posts. And the forum is especially helpful. Once the programs are on your drive, you can use any of the portable app launchers.
· Lupo PenSuite: Provides an impressive number of apps (see full list, use tabs at top). The details page for each app is very helpful, with ratings and related links. It's a very good list and an excellent portable app site to explore.
· LiberKey: It's rather good at choosing portable apps for its launcher. For example, I would keep the majority of its picks even in its basic suite (about 16 of 24). The suite pages have links to product websites for many of the apps.
· PortableApps.com: It's the coolest looking site, with a professional looking launcher and a couple default suites of apps. It draws from hundreds of portable apps and then narrows them down to a select few, but I personally would only keep a few of those (5 of the 13, including a game). The forum and guides are very helpful, though. And the site is an important download source for its PAF versions of portable apps. It also has a longer list of applications.
· winPenPack: Once you get past the awful look of the site and click the English translation, it has an excellent suite of apps. It has the most default suites at 5 (see the comparison table) and creates some of its own versions of open source portable apps ("x" versions). I was unfamiliar with many of its choices, so it may require more exploration and user testing than the suites above. Additionally, the x-versions are much more difficult to setup than PAF versions, so I recommend using PortableApps.com versions of portable programs unless you use the winPenPack suite.
· Portable Ubuntu (limited function in portable version)