Tool of the Week: Put Portable Apps on a Flash Drive

A small sampling of the free flash-drives we have at our house.  Any other good uses for flash-drives?

A small sampling of the free flash-drives we have at our house. Any other good uses for flash-drives?

I like it when i don't have to bring my laptop to campus: it results in a nice and light backpack.  But the campus computers don't have my browser of choice (Google Chrome).

Turns out you can install a version of Google chrome (and many other apps) that will run off a flash drive.  This is perfect because Courtney has a bucket of thumb drives she's gotten for free at conferences and trade shows.  In addition, the portable version of Google Chrome stores passwords and history right on the flash-drive, so you don't have to worry as much about your personal information being compromised from using a public computer.

Just head over to and run and execute the installer to install a portable version of chrome on your flash drive.  Be sure to check out all their other apps, including open office, spyware detectors, etc.  Another cool idea is to put spyware and anti-virus software on a flash-drive for when you have to debug a crashed computer.

Before you get started, I should note that not all flash drives are created equally.  When I first went through this process, Google Chrome ran painfully slow, and this was due to the low read/write speed of the USB drive I was using.  I downloaded a free flash drive speed checker and picked a drive with a higher read/write speed (18 Mb/s and 10 Mb/s).  For google chrome I only needed about 200 Mb worth of space.

Also, if your curious, apparently you can put whole operating systems on a flash drive to boot off of.  When I have some time to try to learn Linux, I think I'll be trying this!

A final security note: I did notice that no matter where I went on campus, when using my Portable version of Chrome, computers remembered my passwords to things like gmail, etc.  This is super handy, but if you loose your flash drive it could be a security risk!



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