Recently there have been a few articles about Windows 8 having a system that turns thumb drives into a portable workspaces. While everyone seemed to love the idea, it felt like something I had already seen. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I used a system called when I was in college as my Swiss Army Knife of Windows gadgets. I used it to repair people’s computers, do my programming assignments while I was in lab, and avoid my friends’ web browsers when I needed to borrow their computer.

If you use other computers a lot or don’t own your own laptop, I have a treat for you. Portable Apps is a self contained launcher platform you can install on a thumb drive and the core is only 2MB. It looks a lot like a start menu, but it pops up on the right side from the taskbar. You can install all the basics of a normal computer environment like an office suite, music player, video player, DVD burner, and web browser. You can even install some more advanced options like a compiler, FTP client, virus scanner, and/or open source games.

I had no personal need for this, as I spend all my computer time on my computer, but I always like to keep a thumb drive with Portable Apps on my key chain. It can be helpful in repairing people’s computers when a virus has taken out their Internet. I highly recommend Portable Apps to anyone sharing a computer with a college roommate, borrowing a friend’s laptop while yours is in the shop, or if you are just tired of installing the same apps when you fix people’s computers. You would be amazed at how useful a portable library of your favorite programs can be, until you try it for yourself.

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