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The great value of running portable apps from the hard disk

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xrvjorn
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The great value of running portable apps from the hard disk

In some forum posts I've seen here, it seems that some people overlook the value of having a portable version of an app that you only run from the hard drive. So far, I haven't run any portable app from a USB stick, only from the hard drive. I prefer portable apps because of

- They don't slow down the computer by insisting on loading on startup.

- They don't contribute to WinRot or Registry Rot.

- I can try them and if I don't like them, deleting them means they're gone from the system. Non portable apps usually don't uninstall themselves properly, leaving bits and pieces behind that clog up the system.

- If the Windows installation gets corrupted and I have to reinstall, I don't have to reinstall every single program and go through all their settings (it's usually the latter that takes forever).

Today the immense value of running portable apps from the hard disk, became even more evident. I just set up a new Windows laptop. Installing the apps was just a question of copying the "Portable Apps" directory from the old computer and voila - it was ready to go after just one single operation! OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird etc were up and running with all settings and customizations in one go, and lots and lots of hours of work was saved.

Thanks to all who have made this possible!

digitxp
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Second

Lately my dad got smart and started using an admin account and an everyday account in XP (jeez) and my flash drive is filling up fast. The only quarrel I have now is that any absolute paths that change when you move them from the Desktop to a flash drive don't work unless if you put them in a folder tree called F:\Documents and Settings\user\Desktop\

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ceciliaFX
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Amen to that!

My 1st computer was an Amiga and installing programs on that OS was basically very simple. you could put any program where you wanted it.

portable Apps for windows reminds of that easy of use.

I drop by here almost everyday just to see what else is new and exciting!

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NathanJ79
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Amiga

My first two computers were Amigas. A1000 with the front-panel RAM expansion and an A2000. I preferred the A1000.

AmigaDOS didn't use a registry. It was a very straightforward OS. Built in icon editor (in Prefs) and two-frame icons (idle and active) FTW. We still don't have either feature in Windows. And I'd love to have the old "Z Z" "Wait" cursor from the Amiga, nostalgia hits every time I see it in WinUAE (emulator). The regular pointer was kinda boring, though, my brothers and I made several good alternatives, the best of which was a crosshair. Virtually shooting our way through the OS was awesome.

... ... ...

Anyway, I agree 100% with the topic creator. I do use portable apps at work and on the go, but I use them at home. Haven't had Firefox installed since 2.x. Never installed OpenOffice.

nightbeholder
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That is how i've been using

That is how i've been using apps from quite some time now.
The only installed app in my system is Avira Antivir.

BPak
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Put where on the HD

Where would you place the portable apps on the Hard Drive?

On the Root drive C:\ or in a special folder.

Windows can be a bit unforgiving if you try to write files in some folders.

BPak

solanus
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Not in the Root

It's best to make a subfolder of C:\, so that the whole suite and apps are contained, and can be moved if need be.

Mine is C:\PortableAppsSuite.

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

RogerL
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?

PortableApps are designed to be installed in X:\PortableApps, where X is the drive letter of your USB drive... so why have you chosen to add "Suite" to the folder name when on the C: drive?

solanus
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I could have called it "MickeyMouse"

Let me clarify.
First, the Portable Apps platform does not need to be installed in the root of a drive.
With USB drives, it's most convenient to install to the root, because there's no reason for any other system to share the drive.
On the hard disk, the C: drive has lots of other stuff, including free files in the root, the Windows folder, the Documents and Settings folder, etc. If you install directly to the root, then your PortableApps and Documents folders are mixed up in with all your other root level folders.

So, what I do is make a folder to install everything into. I find it easier to move that whole thing if I have to.

Here's my structure. I'll substitute "MickeyMouse" for my folder name to avoid confusion:

C:\
 |-\MickeyMouse\
      |-StartPortableApps.exe
      |-Autorun.inf
      |-\Documents\
      |     |-\Music\
      |     |-\Pictures\
      |     |-\Video\
      |-\PortableApps\
      |     |-\7-ZipPortable\
      |     |-\FirefoxPortable\
      |     |-\OpenOfficePortable\          
      |     |-\PortableApps.com\
      |     |-\etc...\        

Anyway, as I said, you can call the "container" folder whatever you want: "MickeyMouse", "TheKingOfSweden", "SmallFurryThings", or as I do in my case, "PortableAppsSuite".

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

RogerL
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Re: I could have called it "MickeyMouse"

I have read about long pathnames for OpenOfficePortable being a problem so I guess one needs to keep whatever one choses for "MickeMouse" as short as possile and to not have any spaces.

To avoid these problems I am considering creating another partition on my fixed hard drive, fixing it as the P: drive, and installing PortableApps in it's root as though it was a removable drive.

John T. Haller
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Fine in C:\

There's no need for another drive. You're fine installing it to C:\. You can then remove the autorun.inf if you don't want the drive renamed or to have the PA.c icon. It's best for the apps to live in C:\PortableApps so that the installers can automatically find them (it makes your life easier).

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

solanus
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I guess it comes down to personal preferences.

I've used my setup since the beginning of the Portable Apps menu, and I've never had problems with the installers.
Every app installer that is created according to the paf.exe format automatically installs to the correct location, as long as I use the Options>Install a New App function in the menu.

The only time I need to actually choose the folder location is if I update the menu itself, but that is so rare that it's not an issue.

For me, the convenience of being able to move the whole shebang as one to a new computer is the beautiful thing. Installed to the root, I'd have to grab two folders and an executable to move it.

So, for me at least, my way makes my life easier.

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

John T. Haller
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Ah

I was referring to running the app installers directly. If you install from the menu, the menu will always tell the installers where to install. (The word install appears far too many times in this post. Install.)

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

NathanJ79
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The merit of keeping autorun.inf

Of course, if you're installing on an external hard drive (and putting PA on the same drive as Windows kinda defeats the reformat-portability benefit), the autorun.inf file is not entirely useless. I use the hard drive PA icons from PTC on mine, and it helps identify it. Also, of course, if I unplug it or whatever, when I plug it back in, I get the autoplay options. And of course you can change the volume name in autorun.inf; mine's "Programs".

ristof
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I use D:/ since even those dodgey portable appz can use that

pretty decent solution though, jokes aside

I think that's a classic imagine portableappz.com

qwertymodo
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One reason to keep it as the

One reason to keep it as the default X:\PortableApps\ rather than PortableAppsSuite or MickeyMouse, etc. is that if you use the default for all your devices, you can transfer your Data folders freely between devices. Some launchers only update the drive letter rather than the whole path so transferring Data from C:\MickeyMouse to F:\PortableApps would break some apps that would then be looking for F:\MickeyMouse (see this thread on that exact issue in SongbirdPortable). Of course, I suppose it would be sufficient to use MickeyMouse on all of your PA installations, the key is being consistent.

Quamquam omniam nescio, nec nihil scio.

nightbeholder
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I don't put it on the C drive

I don't put it on the C drive for obvious reasons
I have a second partition on my OS drive just for the apps
This way if you have to format/reinstall the OS the apps are unaffected

GrahamG
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Create New Partition

I have a 160Gb laptop. I downloaded Disk Partition Manager and partitioned the laptop hard drive thus: 40Gb Vista Operating System; 10Gb Portable Apps; 100Gb Personal Data. Each of these partitions is seen as a separate drive.

Apart from an AV and backup utility, I have nothing else installed on the Vista partition. Now, when I feel like restoring the Vista partition I can just use my backup to reimage that drive and my portable apps and personal data drives stay untouched. Job done.

I use Executor as my program launcher with relative paths. Thus, when I want to transfer all my portable apps from partition to external hard drive, I just copy the lot using TeraCopy and I'm in business from the external hard drive two seconds later.

Cambridge, UK

Ed_P
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?

Have you actually done a restore of the Vista partition? I ask because to the best of my knowledge it's impossible to restore an active partition when it's in use. And having the backup app on it doesn't help the restoring either.

I definitely agree with storing the My Documents and etc on a separate partition.

Ed

johnie1
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truecrypt containers

i've been doing this for a while. On my USB drive i use truecrypt in traveler mode with a 4GB container file, of course i would back this up on my PC. i then realized all my programs/settings are in this backup so why not use them, truecrypt can be run from the command line, nice:

shortcut > cmd file > mounts truecrypt container (asking for a password) > cmd file then runs program

i can not emphasize enough that the advantage of a mounted truecrypt container on portable apps is paths. Mounting with a bat/cmd file the drive letter will always be the same (i use v:\). Example cmd file:

@echo off

IF EXIST v:\StartPortableApps.exe GOTO runProg

TrueCrypt /v v /l v /m rm /a /q

:runProg
start /Dv:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable\ FirefoxPortable.exe

exit

[Pre tags added by mod Tim]>

BuddhaChu
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Nice hack

You can surround your code with the tags and they'll "prettify" your batch file (removing the spaces in the tags of course). If I remember correctly, the tag doesn't always work so nicely with spaces between lines of code so maybe that happened.

Also, if anyone re-uses the above code, mind the space before "FirefoxPortable.exe" (meaning "make sure you remove it")

Cancer Survivors -- Remember the fight, celebrate the victory!
Help control the rugrat population -- have yourself spayed or neutered!

johnie1
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keep the space

No no, that space is meant to be there:
http://ss64.com/nt/start.html

Also i did surround my CODE with the tag.
i was supposed to use , maybe a bit of CSS needs to be thrown on the old tag.

[I added them for you, mod Tim]

BuddhaChu
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Interesting

I've been using the Windows & DOS command line for a LONG time now and actually learned something about the start command. Thanks!

Cancer Survivors -- Remember the fight, celebrate the victory!
Help control the rugrat population -- have yourself spayed or neutered!

johnie1
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pre tag

nice one Tim (:

Jonathan Bean
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Performance hits?

I have been using FF, VLC, CCleaner, Izarc2Go, Goodsync2Go, Renamer and several other programs that are not LABELED portable but are portable except for the auto-update feature! Done this for years. No more problems with registry although that could be correlation not causation. lol

Still, I wonder about the "performance hit." The one program where it is REAL noticeable is VLC -- the "regular" VLC starts up much faster while the portable one displays the splash screen (any way to disable that? Would it speed things up).

But I digress . . . has any one done performance tests? I've searched and this issue keeps coming up but no one has done even a crude test.

Thanks in advance.

jjb

NathanJ79
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Easy

Go into other\source and right-click AppNamePortable.ini (VLCPortable.ini), choose copy. Up twice, right click, paste (by VLCPortable.exe). Edit the .ini and change the "false" to "true" after SplashScreen, save, you won't see it anymore.

Disabling the splash screen does not speed it up, though.

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