This is for Windows users. PortableApps allows you to carry your favorite computer programs and all of your bookmarks, settings, email, genealogy data, and more with you on a portable device (USB flash drive, iPod, portable hard drive, CD, etc) and use them on any Windows computer. It is a great tool to use when traveling, as you can use any Windows computer at a library or at a friend's house, all without leaving any personal data behind.
I have also known people to use PortableApps both at home and on their own "netbook" or laptop computer. It can also be useful for seasonal homes: take your favorite computer programs and all of your bookmarks, settings, email, and genealogy data with you when you head south for the winter or north for the summer.
Best of all, PortableApps is free, although you do have to supply a flash drive. As stated on the PortableApps web site, "It contains no spyware. There are no advertisements. It isn't a limited or trial version. There is no additional hardware or software to buy. You don't even have to give out your email address. It's 100% free to use, free to copy and free to share."
PortableApps.com is a complete collection of portable applications, including the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email program, Sunbird for calendar and tasks, ClamWin antivirus protection, Pidgin instant messaging, Sumatra PDF reader, KeePass password manager, Sudoku (a game), Mines-Perfect (another game), CoolPlayer+ audio player, PNotes note-taking program, as well as OpenOffice.org for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and drawing.
In addition, you can add Gramps, a free genealogy program, to PortableApps by following the instructions at http://goo.gl/98Qe9. However, Gramps is not pre-installed; it requires a bit of additional work by you. The instructions are simple to follow.
All the programs are preconfigured to work portably. All you need to do is plug the jump drive into a Windows computer, wait a few seconds for the PortableApps menu to load, and start using any or all of the programs.
Not bad for free programs!
Flash drives are cheap these days, sometimes less than five dollars. However, I'd suggest you obtain an 8 gigabyte or bigger flash drive in order to store many programs plus all your data. You will want storage space for your genealogy data as well as for word processing documents, email messages, and more. Eight gigabyte jump drives typically sell for $10 to $20 at your local computer store or department store.
For more information or to download the free PortableApps applications, go to http://portableapps.com/.
You do need to use a bit of caution when carrying one of these tiny flash drives. If it contains a lot of personal information, you won't want to lose it or have it stolen! You need to be careful. Of course, you can always add an encryption program to the flash drive or purchase a flash drive that already contains encryption, such as the Kingston 8 gigabyte USB 2.0 Hi-Speed Datatraveler Locker with Encryption available on Amazon at http://goo.gl/u1YJe. However, the encrypted flash drives are more expensive than normal drives.
For do-it-yourself encryption using the free TrueCrypt program, read the "How to Encrypt USB Flash Drive" article at http://goo.gl/REajt.
I would hate to lose any flash drive but at least your personal information will be safe if the drive only contains encrypted information.
Backups are always important but become even more important than ever when the data is contained on a tiny flash drive that is easily lost! Back up your files to other media frequently and keep multiple copies of the backups in multiple places. I'd suggest keeping at least one (encrypted) copy in an online backup service on the Internet plus at least one more backup copy at home.
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