PortableApps – Alternative to U3

Browsers, Tips n Tricks, Windows

In yesterdays post on Sandisk Cruzer Micro, I was mentioning how U3 Smart technology allows you to carry your favorite PC programs on the flash drive.

Turns out that U3 is not the only technology available to accomplish this task. There is an open source project called PortableApps using which you could turn any flash drive/iPod into a “U3 smart” device.

A portable app is a computer program that you can carry around with you on a portable device and use on any Windows computer. When your USB flash drive, portable hard drive, iPod or other portable device is plugged in, you have access to your software and personal data just as you would on your own PC. And when you unplug the device, none of your personal data is left behind.

Even though you can run the PortableApps along with U3, I decided to first test it on my iPod. There are 3 different flavors of installation available.

PortableApps Standard 90MB


  • ClamWin Portable (antivirus)
  • Mozilla Firefox – Portable Edition (web browser)
  • Gaim Portable (instant messaging)
  • OpenOffice.org Portable (office suite)
  • Sudoku Portable (puzzle game)
  • Mozilla Sunbird – Portable Edition (calendar/task manager)
  • Mozilla Thunderbird – Portable Edition (email client)
PortableApps Lite 30MB Uses AbiWord Portable (word processor) instead of OpenOffice.org
PortableApps Base 800KB Stripped down package with just the PortableApps Menu, PortableApps Backup utility and custom folders, icons and autorun


Download any of the above 3 flavors and extract the contents to the root of your flash drive.

PortableApps Menu

Unlike U3 Launchpad, PortableApps Menu doesร‚ notร‚ have the ability to auto-launch when the flash drive is connected to the PC.

The PortableApp application are of “paf” format and can be installed via the PortableApps Menu. The number of Portable applications is limited and is listed on this page.

Download PortableApps

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • TheAnand Jul 3, 2007 Link

    I have been trying to populate my recent iRiver MP3 player with some basic software too. . .so far firefox, a PocoMail client, a FileZilla FTP have their place there. . . .looking for more though!

  • Venu Jul 4, 2007 Link

    yes and if your hosting supports SSH, then you might even have Putty ๐Ÿ™‚ i would love to have the word/powerpoint reader rather than the bulky openoffice ๐Ÿ™‚

  • TheAnand Jul 4, 2007 Link

    true true. I just found another site with small apps. most shell proggies but. http://www.xtort.net

  • Arpit Jacob Jul 5, 2007 Link

    Portable apps are most useful in office where you are not allowed to install third party software dude to administrative restrictions.

  • kuanhoong Jul 5, 2007 Link

    I love portableapps. Applications should be kept as simple as possible for faster running time and user friendly

  • venukb Jul 5, 2007 Link

    Arpit, Kuang, Thanks for dropping by.

    PortableApps is pretty useful, however U3 seems to be matching them with better application support. Hope to see more useful applications from the PortableApps team

  • Lurking_Biohazard Jul 24, 2007 Link

    “Microsoft and SanDisk on Friday announced a technology-sharing agreement that will produce a replacement for SanDisk’s U3 line of USB smart drives by the second half of next year.”

    Read more here –> http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2128799,00.asp