Have you ever been using a friend's computer and then it turns out they don't have the software you need? It can be one of the most frustrating things in the world. But there is a sure-fire way to be prepared in the form of portable applications.
These programs reside on portable devices such as flash drives, memory cards and iPods, installing nothing to the host computer while still bringing much-needed functionality. These applications are identical to their desktop versions, but are specifically developed for portable use. The Portableapps.com website gives users three base packages to choose from, depending on your needs.
The first option is simply the Portable Apps program manager, with no additional apps being included. This weighs in at a mere 2MBs - useful if you need to conserve bandwidth.
The second option includes a host of programs as well, such as Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird, Clamwin anti-virus protection, Pidgin instant messenger, Sumatra PDF reader, AbiWord word processor and more. This download is around 50MBs and should help with your basic needs.
The final option is a 137MB download and includes all of the above as well as the full OpenOffice suite.
The beauty of the Portable Apps program manager is that it gives you a simple way to install additional applications, with many of them listed on the Portableapps.com website. Need some media software? Then VLC media player, Audacity and Coolplayer are yours to download. Need some office applications? OpenOffice, AbiWord, Foxit Reader, Finance Explorer and Gnumeric are all available for use.
Portableapps.com also has a host of other software packages for your flash drive, such as uTorrent, FileZilla, GIMP, Sudoku and Skype.
Installing additional applications is a relatively easy affair, with users first downloading their desired programs from Portableapps.com. From there, you open the installed Portable Apps manager on the flash drive, click 'options' and then 'install a new app'. Then you simply choose the relevant setup file and get installing.