May 10, 2007

USB Apps: Portable Productivity

About a week or so ago, I misplaced my USB flash drive. It didn't really have anything too important on it, but I was still pretty upset. I loved that thing. It was only a 1GB drive, but that was good enough for what I used it for. Anyways, I had to get a new one, so I decided to upgrade a bit. I went out and got a 4GB flash drive, and it just came in the mail yesterday. I immediately planned out how I was going to use the additional space. I set aside 1 GB for an encrypted volume using Truecrypt (I'll blog about it later). I put a folder for miscellaneous items I need to save, or transport. Lastly, I created an applications folder. That's right, you heard correctly, an applications folder. A directory where I can place portable applications that I can run on any computer.

Yesterday, while searching the internet I found a virtual goldmine for free USB applications at Other ones I found while perusing Google. I am going to share each one that I have on my USB drive with you right now. Most of the following are portable versions of the original software.

1) 7Zip: This is a free compression utility like WinZip. This is good if you find yourself on an older system that doesn't have the built in zip utility like Windows XP, or if you want better options when creating a zip file like password protection or encryption.

2) ClamWin Antivirus: You did read that correctly, this is a portable antivirus that will download the latest updates to your USB drive, and will scan your computer for the latest virus and malware threats. It's great for IT guys that need to battle it out with a virus, like Constantine battles it out with demons.

3) FileZilla: This is a portable FTP client that also supports FTPS encrypted file transfers. This is great if you have an FTPS server, and can't use a regular browser to transfer files.

4) Firefox: A portable version of the famous browser. You can set you settings like skins and home page and take it with you wherever you go. If you are at a public library that only has the dreaded Internet Explorer, you can whip out your more secure Firefox browser on your USB drive.

5) OpenOffice: For you college kids out there that need to get your term paper done, and only have the limited library search computer to work with. You can plug this in and have a whole office suite at your fingertips including word processor, spreadsheet, slide show and more. All completely compatible with Microsoft Office as I mentioned in an earlier post.

6) Sumatra PDF: Perfect if the computer you are using doesn't have Adobe Reader installed and you have a PDF from the internet or some place else you need to review.

7) TrueCrypt: I will go in depth on this encryption utility in a later post. Take my word for it though, it is really awesome, and you can use it in "traveler" mode by running it on a USB drive. The only draw back is you have to be logged in as an administrator to run it.

8) TightVNC: This is a portable VNC client that you can use to remote into a VNC server.

9) Ultrashredder: A portable, secure file shredding program. You can set the number of times you overwrite a file before deleting it up to 20 passes (I read somewhere once that data is unrecoverable after 9 passes, but that is just hear say on my part).

I'm sure there are many other USB applications out there, and I think I will have a good time looking for them. In the meantime, I will be playing with the ones mentioned above! If you know of other good ones, please feel free to leave a comment with ones you have tried.

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