You can’t always expect that you will be able to work on your own laptop that’s set up with all the software that you need. Sometimes, you can find yourself without access to your computer. It could stop working for some reason, you may misplace it, or you may simply not have it with you.
If you’re forced to work on someone else’s computer or perhaps the computer in a hotel room, airport lounge, conference hall or Internet café, you could find your work stalled by a lack of the right software. You can’t expect that other people will have all the right software installed on their computers. What do you do then — you can’t very well install software on someone else’s computer.
The answer is, you should carry portable versions of all the most important software that you will ever need – in a flash drive.
Portable software doesn’t need to install on a hard drive before it is run – it runs right off a flash drive. You’ll leave no trace of your software on the computer that you’re using, either. If this seems like a good idea, you should turn to a site that stocks free, legal portable programs — Lupo PenSuite, Portable Apps and LiberKey are three of the most popular options. Here are ideas for what portable programs to carry around on your flash drive.
Office productivity software
If you find yourself in a place with a computer that doesn’t have office productivity software and you still need to view or edit a document, LibreOffice Portable is what you need. It is lightweight office software that does most of what Microsoft Office is capable of. If all you need is a word processor and not an office productivity suite, FocusWriter is a well-done alternative.
GIMP Portable is one of the most popular free programs around for image viewing and editing. From simple drawing software to professional level image retouching, it offers modules for every need. If you find an image on a computer that’s in a format that you can’t open, GIMP Portable even offers format conversion.
For vector image editing of the sort that Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw offer, Inkscape is a great portable alternative.
If you only need to view images and not edit them, XnView Portable is excellent image organizing and viewing software. IrfanView Portable is a more sophisticated program – it offers support for animated images and vector graphics, too.
What if you need to work on a computer that doesn’t have security software on board? You can’t very well install antivirus on someone else’s computer. Portable security software, then, can be a great idea. Spybot Search & Destroy is powerful security software that not only cleans the computer you’re on of spyware, adware, Trojans and other nasties, it also fixes the registry and keeps your use of the computer anonymous. For conventional antivirus protection, ClamWin offers powerful functionality.
It’s a good idea to keep one of these portable security programs around on a flash drive even if all you plan to ever do is to use your own computer. Sometimes, you can have powerful virus infections on your computer that prevent your existing antivirus from updating itself and prevent you from installing new antivirus. In such cases, portable software can be a useful way to introduce security software into your system.
Carrying a portable media player on your flash drive toolbox can be a good idea – many computers have nothing more than the stock Windows Media Player or another player with poor codec support. VLC Media Player, a player that is well known for its near-universal format support, comes in a portable version. If you have a media file to play on another person’s computer, this portable app can be of help.
If the computer you’re working on has a version of Windows more recent than Windows 98, you shouldn’t have a problem opening any type of zip file – Windows includes inbuilt zip archival support. You can have a problem, though, opening other file compression formats – .rar, .7z and many others. If you have a compressed file that you need to open, the portable version of the popular 7-Zip free archival tool should be able to help you. It can be a lifesaver in many circumstances.