Portable Apps and Dropbox play well togetherPortable Apps are versions of standard applications designed to be run from a USB memory stick. Running this way means:
- you can run them on any computer you can put the memory stick in, without needing to install
- you bring all your application state (settings, bookmarks, plugins, etc.) with you
- you leave no trace behind after you remove the USB stick
I’ve always liked the idea, but could never be bothered to try it out properly. Until now. It occurred to me that there’s actually nothing special about a memory stick. Portable apps will run from anywhere on a PC. In particular, you can install them in, and run them from, a Dropbox folder. What’s dropbox? It is simply a service that synchronises files from a specific folder on your PC (Windows, Mac or Linux) to “the cloud”. It runs permanently and synchronises as soon as changes are made. Sync’d files are accessible from anywhere via a web interface. You can also associate many PCs with the same dropbox account, meaning that your dropbox folder on all machines is always kept in sync. I use it for backup purposes and as an easy way of moving files between home and work.
The flash of inspiration last night was that I could install portable apps in my dropbox folder and they would then be available to use from all my machines, complete with all the necessary settings, etc. The same app. The same state. On all my machines. So far I’ve only tried a few of the apps available on Portable Apps but those I have tried all work fine. Time to try some more…
Now we just need an easier way to make standard apps portable!