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Archive for June, 2013

Portable Software Applications

Computer security is an important topic, especially today when installing an application on your computer could result in who-knows-what-else being installed on your computer if you are not careful when clicking all the buttons during the installation.  I’m looking at you Download.com!  IMHO, this is as bad as Trojan viruses because the software author/distributor is adding in stuff that you, as the user, will undoubtedly not install under normal circumstances.  A simple solution is to just not install software!

Another benefit of not installing software is that you can run applications on your work computer that are typically not able to be installed because the user does not have administrative rights on their machine to install said software.  They do this for good reason because the common user does not pay heavy attention to the items being installed on a work computer.  Unfortunately people do not typically treat work machines as they would treat their own and the result could be the inadvertent install of buggy, virus-laden software.  Again, the solution?  Don’t install it.

The solution?  Use portable applications.

Portable applications are just as they read.  They are software applications that are fully executable and most of the time fully usable without any installation.  This post is being written using a portable version of Google Chrome.  While a companies IT person would discourage the user of portable apps, and understandably so because it is not company-sanctioned software, it poses much less risk than a full install.  Also, if you typically use someone else’s computer, you can keep the portable application on a USB drive so that it goes with you and all of your settings are preserved on that drive.  This is great for person security and privacy as there is no trail left of your internet history, passwords, and/or settings.  Note: this does not prevent the network from viewing your internet usage.  Just because you are using your own software doesn’t mean they can’t see what you are doing nor does it bypass any firewalls.  It just means your settings and preferences stay within that program that you can take with you.  Always use the internet per the policy of your location.

A great portable application repository is Cameyo.  I’ve used this website several times because they have a great public app library of commonly used applications, i.e. Google Chrome, Firefox, Camtasia, Notepad++, etc and their applications work very well.  A huge bonus of Cameyo is that you can also virtualize (i.e. make portable) most any software that you can download.  So if you want an application to be portable that is not in the public app library, then you can download the install file yourself to your computer and upload it for Cameyo to virtualize it.  Alternatively, you can provide the direct download link to Cameyo and it will take care of everything, no need to download and re-upload.  I’ve used this for CamStudio and it worked very well!

To use portable applications from Cameyo, either virtualize the application as described above using the online packager  or download the pre-virtualized application from the public app library, double-click the file, and then you are running!  No installation whatsoever.

PortableAppsAn alternative to Cameyo is to use a USB-based application library called PortableApps.  I’ve used this before and its very convenient to carry around on a USB drive as it also defaults that all applications used via PortableApps save the documents or whatever to the USB drive.  The image to the right shows the interface that appears when you run the PortableApps program from the USB drive.  Using this, you can install any range of application from their library onto the USB drive, not your computer.  Again, my more favorite uses on this was to have Google Chrome on the USB drive so that I could take around my favorites with me.

Portable applications carry with them the benefit of full software usage without installation and are extremely easy to get up and running, download and double-click!  They maintain computer security without installing to the machine yet allow you to use your own preferred applications.  Personally, I love it and will continue to use these applications as I continue to be productive in various locations.

Oh yes, usual disclaimer:  all links provided in this blog post are non-monetary generating.  I also am not on either Cameyo or PortableApps payroll and am not being compensated in any way for the information provided in this post.  I am just an avid computer user who likes to share neat tips and tricks.  Cheers!