How To Go Portable - Part 1 of 3

Today's technology gives all of us the power to go portable with our applications, pictures, documents, and more. Read part one of this three-part series on going mobile.
Published: Feb 25, 2008
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows

Go Portable - Part 1 of 3

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

More With Less

The personal computer has evolved into a truly amazing piece of equipment. It can hold all of the things that are most dear to us like photos and movies and music. We can use it to work, to play, to collaborate, and to communicate. We use our computers for managing money, playing games, doing homework, creating documents, making music, doing art, and so much more. For many people in our society, our computer has become a focal point of our lives. We use it for everything we can.

Yet, it an odd way, our reliance on the computer has created new problems. If you travel where is all your data? Your bookmarks for surfing the Internet? Your email? Your family photos? For many of you the answer is quite simply, "It's on my computer." Our desktop computer holds a lot of the information we need each day. So, why not take it with us?

That's a good question. Many users, including myself, have started looking at the idea of going portable. Looking at ways of having more freedom and flexibility with less equipment and dependence on the desktop or laptop. For the next three weeks I'll be talking about different aspects of going portable and I'll be looking at concepts, software, and devices.

Portable Applications

As storage capacity has increased and prices for it have decreased it's opened up a whole new world of possibilities. You can purchase USB drives that range from 256 megabytes to 16 gigabytes of storage capacity. I'll be talking about USB devices in part 3 of this series and also in my podcast tomorrow. With this variety of storage space all you need to take your data with you are applications that run well on a USB drive. A company called Rare Ideas, LLC. has put together a collection of programs and put it on a Web site called PortableApps.Com There's an entire suite of portable programs that you can put on your USB device. Some of you may be wondering what makes an application portable. The key thing with a portable application is that when you plug your device in you can use the application just as you would on your PC. Another key feature is that when you unplug the device there's no trace of your data on the computer the application was used on. All of the PortableApps meet this criteria. You can install the entire PortableApps Suite or you can install just the programs you want. The program gives you a menu to work with that's seen in the screen shot. I've customized my menu and added some programs while removing others. From the menu you can launch your portable applications, look at documents, view photos, and lots more. I'm using a 4 GB Sandisk Cruzer Titanium USB drive. To give you an idea of how much you can get on a USB drive, my Cruzer has Skype, eFax, ClipMate, WeatherBug, EverNote Portable, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, OpenOffice Writer, OpenOffice Calc, Pidgin, Sunbird, Debrief Notes, Notepad ++, FastStone Capture, ClamWin Portable, and lots of documents. All that and I still have 3.3 GB free. This makes it incredibly easy to travel without taking a laptop. I can plug my Cruzer Titanium into any computer and from there I can surf the Web, write articles, edit documents, do screen captures, send faxes, and lots more.

On The Road Again

Now, some of you may be asking yourself, "How do you do all that from a USB drive when you go on the road?" Well, I do it because certain applications always run from the USB drive. I looked at the programs I use most, the ones I would want to use if I travel, and I put those program on my USB drive. My Sandisk Cruzer Titanium drive is plugged into a USB port on my desktop computer. When I boot my computer the PortableApps menu and the U3 Smart menu load, as do ClipMate, EverNote, and Debrief. When I run Firefox from the shortcut on my desktop it's running Firefox Portable on my USB drive. I've also put certain folders of documents on my drive and I use Dmailer to keep everything synchronized. Dmailer does a beautiful job and I'll be reviewing it in the near future.

So, by putting certain PortableApps and U3 Smart programs on my Cruzer Titanium USB drive, along with key folders, I can go on the road with just my USB drive. I've gone portable and it works beautifully.

Summing It Up

To sum up part one of this three-part series we need to look at some basic ideas. The technology has reached a point where we can put large amounts of data on portable USB drives. The technology has made it possible to have applications that can run from USB drives and never leave any data on the computer where they were run. The technology has provided us with software that can synchronize email, pictures, and more between PC's and portable devices. No, you can't carry everything you have on your desktop computer in your pocket, but you can carry all of the more important things. If I needed to go on a trip back to Colorado today all I'd have to take is my USB drive. Plugging that into any computer I could write articles for Tucows, send faxes, talk with colleagues on Skype, edit Word documents, FTP into my Web site, and more. You can also go portable and I hope this article has given you insights in how to do that. If you have questions email me.

Join me next week for part two in this three-part series on going portable.

If you have a question on how to do something on the computer you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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