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"Creating" Portable Apps with WinRAR

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BottleOfWater
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Joined: 2015-02-28 17:13
"Creating" Portable Apps with WinRAR

Hello, I am new here, and I just wanted to share my way of "creating" my portable apps using WinRAR's SFX option. Now before you say that WinRAR doesn't make portable apps, I understand that; that is why I put quotes around the word created. I am not really creating a portable app, I am simply creating a wrapper around an application that is already stealth. I use this method over the portable apps here for the following reasons:

1. Having only a single file is much easier to manage than having multiple files, even if they are in coherent directories.
2. These apps run in the computer's temp folder instead of the flash drive, which helps save drive life.
3. Because your app is essentially "frozen", if you make a mistake you won't run your app setup.
4. Fragmentation is reduced on your drive because it is only 1 file instead of multiple.
5. Because the fle is smaller (due to WinRAR compression), it will save disk space on your flash drive, with levels comparable to UPX.
6. This method is stealth, as WinRAR cleans the folder created in the temp folder when the app closes.
7. File recovery is much easier with only 1 file.

Now that I have gone over the advantages, lets go over the disadvantages:

1. Since the app is "frozen", if you want to modify the app's settings you will have to replace the files in the archive, which can be tedius.
2. Startup time is slower, since it has to extract the file. This is not really concerning on apps like Notepad++, but larger apps like LibreOffice will be slow to start depending on RAM.
3. AV programs may mark it as a virus, though only 2 AV programs flagged it with a false positive on VirusTotal.

If these disadvantages don't concern you, then let's continue.

First, download your portable app. This could be Notepad++ or CCleaner: it does not matter. Then, download WinRAR (if you don't have it) and BeCyIconGrabber (simply search it with Google or DuckDuckGo). Use BeCyIconGrabber to extract the icon from the exe of the portable app, and keep it for later. Now, modify your apps; adding plugins, changing settings, etc. when you are done, open up WinRAR and drag your application files to WinRAR. Use the following settings (these are what I use):

Best Compression, 32kb dictionary size, set as SFX, create Solid Archive, use BLAKE2 Checksum, Add Quick Open Information to all files.

In the Advanced Options section of WinRAR, set the SFX to extract to a temp folder and run silently, then specify to run the specific exe after extraction. Now, add your icon. After all this, click done, and wait for WinRAR to finish compressing. When it is done, you now have a single exe for your portable app. You can now use it freely for personal use, but you cannot distribute it as it is illegal.

Well, hope this method of creating a portable app helps someone. I know this is not exactly the right way to make apps portable, but it sure does help me manage my portable apps more effectively. Thank you for reading this insanely long post.