Monday, August 27, 2012

Run pretty much your whole internet from a flash drive

This is My Portable Apps.coms freeware flash drive browser and programs post.

This is my version of a quick walk-through for setting up a flash drive that you can use for most everything from browsing the Internet more safely than from your installed browser on your computer.

Most of the setup is just a straight single download from, a few are add-ons available through Firefox's add-ons.

I'm having a little trouble explaining these progs in simple terms as a group, so instead I'll just list my favorite ones and explain a little about them separately.

First of course is Firefox for browsing. I also have the full version installed on all of my computers and love it, but it has a few drawbacks. The biggest is the fact that it's a memory fiend. I have seen mine use up to 8 or 900 MB ram and even more some times and that's just with it opened and running in the background. I have an Intel 2.2 gigs dual core with 3 GB memory installed that can barely run with Firefox opened on it sometimes because after you used 85% of your computer just to open a page you barely have anything left to run the rest of the computer with and no, I can't just add more memory because Win XP will only see 3 gigs of ram and anything more added will be ignored.

That piece of crap Pentium is the reason I searched for and found this program in the first place.

With Firefox you will notice that some pages load a little slower, but the trade-off is well worth the extra time in page loads. Next I'll try to explain what I think are a few of the advantages to running Firefox off of a flash drive...

No more Internet browser history stored on your computer. This should also mean that bad scripts (Web trackers, spy-ware, browser attacking scripts) should not effect your computer but instead they would be confined to the settings on the flash drive. To take advantage of this fully I set up the flash drive fully and then made a new folder on my Hard drive called "Flash Drive Settings". I then copied all of the files from the drive and placed them into that folders as copies to be used later as a clean install. Now I can just delete everything on the flash drive whenever I want to and copy the files back in as new copies and it's all back to the original again in about 2 minutes.

Some things though like text files, favorites and browser extension settings you may not want to lose the information from, in those cases you can take a snapshot of your settings and just use that to update with and get back your work or settings from, more on that in a minute.

With Firefox I have a couple ad-dons that I'm not sure I could do without. These are ScrapBook Plus and Ant tool-bar.

Scrapbook Plus is a page capture prog and a bookmarks organizer, With it you can select a portion of a page by highlighting it and save it as an offline page or an image, I use that feature for registration codes for purchased programs and receipts for purchases like items bought on Amazon.
The way you would back up or save settings from ScrapBook is to click View in sidebar and from there select Import/Export settings and select Export all, later you just import that file again and every-thing's set back to the way you had it before. Here is the link for ScrapBook Plus ""

Ant down-loader is a video/audio down-loader that will snag just about any video out there with just a single click and it runs on very little resources. There are many others out there, but most hog up memory and slow you down to next to nothing when yer trying to do something else while you wait for your movie to download.

This is the download page for Ant down-loader, you can get it there or even easier, you can just type in into the plug-ins search in Firefox and grab it that way and that's how I get it usually.

After all of that we get to the programs.

There are tons of games and apps, I did grab Cribbage, but it's not that great. There are a lot of others too like Solitaire and some other java-script games. I don't bother with those much though.

Here are a few that I consider to be "Must Have" programs and a word or two about them

Notepad ++. It's what I'm typing this on right now... LOL
This program runs on next to nothing, but includes everything. It has spell check and many features that you may not realize you need until you try them. One thing it can do is replace a phrase across many pages and do them all in one shot. I use this feature for html editing. It's convenient when making multiple pages that are similar, but with different content, like videos and flash games. I just write out my html with file names like ???.jpg, ???.swf and [New Link].html and change them to fit the actual content intended, like ???.jpg becomes super_mario_thumb.jpg, ???.swf becomes super_mario.swf and the {New Link].html becomes nintendo_home.html to return the user back to the main index section of Mario games.

Another feature of it is you can test out your html in I.E., Firefox, Chrome or Safari to fine tune it or check for browser compatibility

Next is VLC Media Player. VLC is by far the most complete media player out there. It will do so much that I can't get into it all in this post, but a few features are that it will run swf files, almost any media content and it comes with all codecs you need. It will repair damaged or broken video files as long as you have enough of a file for it to read from. It cannot fix files with no content (0.00 MB), nothing can do that.
You can record straight off of it too. This comes in handy if you want to record a film. Just get the Internet web address of the file out of the page properties and copy it, then open it in VLC and click record. It'll record what you want of it in sections or as a whole and from there you can add subtitles or effects or whatever.

Next is Irfanview, that's one of the fastest image viewers. It also supports plug-ins from just about any program out there. FilterFactory offers some nice plug-ins for free and some of those crappy imaging editors have a few nice plugin filters that come with them that you can copy and put into a folder that Irfanview can use to apply effects to your images for free.

A couple more features are it will make web pages for you that offer thumb-nailed views of what you want to share and full screen sub-pages. Here is an example of one I made using gifs I commonly use in pages [My Gif Page]. You can also make screen-savers from your own images and flash files with music added to the background to share as YouTube like video's.

Next is 7Zip free. It will extract zip files along with some other compression file types and you can safe store your data in your own folders to reduce size and you can protect them using password encryption.

Other than that there are a bunch of "just for fun" apps. I kinda like CamStudioPortable for messing around with cam pictures and I'm sure there's more, but I stopped with those because I want to keep this running on an 8 gig drive and I can still import or export to my main programs for doing the rest of whatever else I might want to do.

LOL, here's my pic on Cam Studio...

All in all I think that it's great to have everything all contained on one flash drive that I can stick into my pocket and use safely on any other computer and not have to rely on remembering personal settings or passwords or links or whatever, makes sharing some of the more interesting stuff a lot easier too.