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Launching portable apps from a hard disk

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PortableJeff
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Launching portable apps from a hard disk

Like so many others, I have installed the Suite to a hard disk partition, and run the apps from there. Today, I was making a shortcut from my desktop to one of the apps, and I found myself wondering: when launching an app from a hard disk like this, is there any advantage (stability, speed, etc.) to using the *Portable.exe rather than the actual application executable, from its own subfolder beneath the "App" subfolder?

I'm betting that it doesn't make any difference, but I'd like a definitive answer.

Thanks.

Ken Herbert
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There is a difference

If you run the app directly from within the App/AppName directory you may as well just install the base app, because you are completely bypassing the portable functionality.

Some apps won't mind so much - they just automatically store settings in their current directory, but for many other apps your settings will instead be stored in AppData, LocalAppData or somewhere else if you bypass the portable executable.

This means that if you do later on need to reinstall Windows and just copy your PortableApps folder over, or you copy your PortableApps directory to a USB drive, you will lose a lot of data in the process.

PortableJeff
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That's a big difference

Thanks for explaining this. If I'm understanding correctly, you're essentially saying that starting the main app from the portable executable is the mechanism that causes the main executable to keep all of its data stored within its PortableApps directory. Otherwise, if started directly, some apps will write to default Windows locations such as AppData, and/or the Registry.

Since that sort of information diffusion is what I'm trying to avoid by using PortableApps, that makes my choice clear.

Thanks very much.

John T. Haller
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Most Apps

Most apps will either run in local mode or store their data within the App directory, meaning they'll get missed by running the PortableApps.com Backup Utility in AppData mode... a quick way of backing up all your apps' settings without needing the time to backup all the apps themselves.

This is why most apps (will be all as we update the ones missing it) contain a readme.txt within the App directory that states: "The files in this directory are necessary for the portable application to function. There is normally no need to directly access or alter any of the files within these directories."

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

PortableJeff
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Good to know

Thanks for adding your thoughts.

WirlyWirly
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What about starting apps without the launcher?

I believe PortableJeff implied this is what he was doing by making desktop shortcuts, but I just wanted to be sure.

If I use the PortableApps Launcher to install/manage my applications, will they remain portable/synced if I then use the cmd line to start the portable executable (ex: "PortableApps\FirefoxPortable\FirefoxPortable.exe") directly instead of launching it from the PortableApps Launcher?

I don't find the official launcher to have all the functionality/customization that I would like, so I made a launcher using the portable version of Rainmeter. I use it for everything outside installing/uninstalling applications. From what I can tell, there is no difference launching them with Rainmeter (which uses the cmd line) vs using the shortcut in the official launcher, but I just thought I'd double check.

I did notice that the launcher passes environment variables to the apps you open through it, but I don't know if those are necessary for the apps to remain portable/synced or just there for the launcher to use on startup, which then get passed to the apps by default when it calls them. For DisableSplashScreen, I did have to create a .ini file in the program folder with the option enabled, but other then that I haven't gone out of my way to make any other changes.

The variables that get passed by the launcher obviously came from the settings.


PortableApps.comDisableSplash=true
PortableApps.comDocuments=A:\PortableApps\Documents
PortableApps.comHighContrast=false
PortableApps.comLanguageCode2=en
PortableApps.comLanguageCode2_INTERNAL=en
PortableApps.comLanguageCode3=eng
PortableApps.comLanguageCode3_INTERNAL=eng
PortableApps.comLanguageCode=en
PortableApps.comLanguageCode_INTERNAL=en
PortableApps.comLanguageGlibc=en_US
PortableApps.comLanguageGlibc_INTERNAL=en_US
PortableApps.comLanguageLCID=1033
PortableApps.comLanguageLCID_INTERNAL=1033
PortableApps.comLanguageNSIS=LANG_ENGLISH
PortableApps.comLanguageNSIS_INTERNAL=LANG_ENGLISH
PortableApps.comLanguageName=English
PortableApps.comLanguageName_INTERNAL=English
PortableApps.comLocaleCode2=en
PortableApps.comLocaleCode2_INTERNAL=en
PortableApps.comLocaleCode3=eng
PortableApps.comLocaleCode3_INTERNAL=eng
PortableApps.comLocaleID=1033
PortableApps.comLocaleID_INTERNAL=1033
PortableApps.comLocaleWinName=LANG_ENGLISH
PortableApps.comLocaleWinName_INTERNAL=LANG_ENGLISH
PortableApps.comLocaleglibc=en_US
PortableApps.comLocaleglibc_INTERNAL=en_US
PortableApps.comMusic=A:\PortableApps\Documents\Music
PortableApps.comPictures=A:\PortableApps\Documents\Pictures
PortableApps.comPlatformVersion=17.0.1.0
PortableApps.comVideos=A:\PortableApps\Documents\Videos

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