When I started working as an independent contractor, I looked for ways to carry my work with me with minimum fuss and break free from the office PC/laptop. I was looking to install my favourite software completely on a USB drive without being tied to a PC/laptop (eg. by using Windows registry). I had been using a SanDisk Titanium U3 USB drive for a while, but was frustrated with the slow U3 Launchpad and unavailability of U3 versions of popular software. A little research led me to PortableApps.com which provides both individual portable applications and a portable suite of applications that can be run on a variety of hardware (USB drives, iPods, portable hard drives, etc.). I opted to use individual portable applications so that I could install only what I required. So, I formatted my SanDisk U3 USB Drive and installed portable versions of some of the software I use frequently (PuTTY, Mozilla Firefox, Notepad++, etc.) from PortableApps.com. The launch screen of Portable PuTTY is shown below.
Although using some portable applications on my USB drive is a bit slower than their non-portable counterparts installed on my laptop, I don’t mind trading this minor performance impact (noticeable only for certain applications like Portable Firefox) for the significant convenience that portable applications bring me. With portable applications on my USB drive, I carry all my work in my pocket and easily switch working between my office and home laptops. For example, I can use all my bookmarks and plugins in Firefox or all my saved sessions in PuTTY (Portable PuTTY can save sessions to a file, thereby removing dependency on the windows registry) on both my office and home laptops (and any other computer) by simply switching the USB drive from one to the other.
Portable Applications give you the advantages of carrying your applications (and obviously data) with you, accessing them from any computer with a USB port and leaving no data behind on the host computer.