24 Killer Portable Apps For Your USB Flash Drive

Windowsby Lee Mathews

My flash drive works pretty hard, so I’ve spent a lot of time gathering a reliable, powerful set of portable tools that allow me to work hard and play hard, even if I can’t do it on my own PC. Here are two dozen apps that I always have at the ready.


Truecrypt – Why is TrueCrypt first on the list? Simple. A multi-gig, easy-to-lose, unencrypted drive with your data on it is a terrible security risk. Truecrypt helps me keep all my private stuff locked down. Read the “traveller mode” documentation for help setting it up.

Web and Internet

Operator – I’m not an Opera fanboy by any stretch, but if I’ve got to surf on a public computer, I’m using Operator. It’s got Tor anonymous browsing built in to keep you safe. You can read more about it in my previous post. If I’m on a trusted computer, I’ll go for Portable Firefox.

Pidgin – I don’t usually need to IM from a client’s site, but just in case I need to stay in touch I bring Pidgin with me. For portable multi-network chat, it’s the best option out there. Add the encryption plugin to keep it secure.

Filezilla – Half the time I need Notepad++, it’s because I’m editing files on my FTP server from the road. Filezilla portable keeps all my sites accesible from wherever I am.


μTorrent – Yet another recurring frustration is not being able to find a torrent client on a PC when I need it. I run μTorrent on all my PCs anyways, so it’s got a home on my flash drive as well.

Frostwire – What’s worse than getting a song stuck in your head and not being able to hear it? Take Frostwire with you and make sure that doesn’t happen.

Maintenance and Support

CCleaner – A lot of the computers I work on look like they’ve never had a single file deleted from them. CCleaner makes short work of dumping gigs of trash files from them, and it tidies up the registry, too.

Revo Uninstaller – Phase two in the purging of filth from client machines is ridding them of unwanted apps. Revo is way better than add/remove programs, and the “hunter mode” uproots stubborn apps.

Nirsoft Apps – I have to group these, because they’d eat up half my list otherwise. Dialupass, Mailpassview, Currports, Netresview, and several other of their apps are must-haves for any technician.

Treesize Free – To find where all of someone’s drive space is going in a hurry, fire up Treesize. It makes drive cleanup a snap.

Teamviewer – Zero config remote control that’s portable? Yes, I’ll have that. Teamviewer kicks so much ass that it was an easy sell to my boss, who makes Mr. Crabs look like a big spender.


CDBurner XP – Customer’s don’t always have good – or any – burning software installed. CD Burner XP solves that problem. I switched from InfraRecorder, but it’s a good option as well.

Screamer – I tried screamer out a while ago for a post on DLS, and it’s earned a spot on my drive. For quick access to tons of internet radio streams, you can’t beat it.

Faststone Capture – Whether I need a screencap for a blog post or to prove something to someone, Faststone is my app of choice. The included editing features are great, and mean that I don’t need a photo editor for quick jobs. The link is to the last free version (at Portable Freeware Collection), as Faststone is now trialware.

VDownloader – You never know when you’re going to stumble across a YouTube video that you just have to save. VDownloader will save in a number of video formats, or the audio only as MP3.

Irfanview – For image viewing and basic edits (crop, rotate, resize, etc.) , it’s Irfanview all the way. The homepage is here, but the portable version is over at Smithtech.

VLC – Videolan wins as my portable media player because it supports so many formats and doesn’t require outside codecs. Can 100 million downloaders really be wrong? Ok, sure they can. But I still love VLC.

Document Handlers

Notepad++ – It never hurts to have a good text editor at your disposal, and portable Notepad++ is an excellent option. Tons of great features, like macro recording, syntax highlighting, tabbed interface, and much, much more.

Abiword – Some may opt for OpenOffice, but I choose Abiword because I’ve got Zoho and Google Docs accounts for out-of-office chores that require heavy lifting. Abiword is small, fast, compatible, and has all the features I need for quick document production. The portable version is here.

Foxit PDF Reader – I hate trying to open a manual on a customer’s PC only to learn they don’t have an Acrobat viewer installed. Foxit is my reader of choice, so I take it with me.

File Management

Total Commander – Not only is Total Commander a rockin’ dual-pane, tabbed Explorer replacement, but it also handles all kinds of archive files. That eliminates the need for two more apps just to handle syncs and file extraction. Until someone resurrects Google browser sync or Mozilla Weave handles all my Firefox settings and customizations I’ll just let TC do it for me. Yes, it also has an FTP client and text editor, but FileZilla and Notepad++ are better.

Portable Launcher

PStart – It’s nice to have quick access to the tools on your flash drive, and PStart gives you that by adding an icon/menu in the system tray. It’s searchable, and there’s even a tab to store quick notes for yourself.

There’s my list. Would my flash drive cut the mustard for you, or did I miss your favorite app?

Tags: flash, list, portable, portable apps, PortableApps, usb, usb flash drive, UsbFlashDrive

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