USB Drives are being replaced gradually by the micro SD card or cloud.
It’s the law of life: micro SD cards occupy very little, and the cloud allows us to access our data and programs from anywhere.
But don’t bury the USB Pendrive before time.
It still has two significant advantages: it can be connected to practically 100% of the PCs, and it is possible to start the computer from the pen drive.
They are features known for years, which have been very good for us to do things such as installing a Linux operating system on a pen drive and use it on any computer, create an emergency disk in case the hard drive goes wrong, or always have at hand a portable antivirus.
We can still get more out of a USB Drive, thanks to technologies such as virtualization, or the ability to convert any program to a portable version, and thus avoid installation on the hard drive.
We have prepared a selection of essential apps you should carry on your USB Drive. Keep them always at hand, and they’ll fix a lot of problems for you.
Table of Contents
One of the primary uses of a USB Drive is to install an operating system different from that of the computer.
We use the USB Drive as a boot disk to use this system without the need to install it or delete the one on the PC.
There are many ways to do this.
We can carry out a manual installation, or use some of the multiple installers that are available.
Here we are going to propose you two.
Its as simple as choosing the operating system you want to use (usually, some version of Linux), download it and follow the instructions.
SARDU is a multi-boot menu creation software for Windows or Linux.
It allows starting the computer from a USB stick with a menu from which you start an antivirus, or boot any version of Linux. Supports Legacy and EFI BIOS.
Its also possible to install Windows 7, 8 or Windows 10 from USB. It’s handy if the computer does not have a CD or DVD reader.
SARDU is simple to use. We just start the application and select operating systems and utilities that we want to add to the menu.
Download the latest version of the operating system and install it on the USB Drive.
You can install dozens of different versions of Linux, including the most popular ones: Ubuntu, Debian, Kali Linux, etc.
- You can download SARDU from this link to the official website.
YUMI is the best-known alternative to SARDU. It serves to create a multi-boot menu on a USB Drive and start a Linux operating system, an antivirus, and other tools.
It accepts all the most popular Linux distros and has recently been updated to add the newest ones: Neon, Finnix, Devuan, Vinari OS, and Ubuntu Budgie.
- Download YUMI from its official website.
Security & Privacy
We often use PCs that are not ours. At work, at a friend’s or relative’s house, etc.
We don’t want to leave a trace of our actions, nor do we want a possible Trojan or spyware installed on that computer to spy on the data or files that we carry on the USB Drive.
Let’s take a look at some security applications that will allow us to use third-party computers without endangering our privacy.
A USB Drive can be used to carry programs, but also private data. The problem is that it is straightforward to lose, and we don’t want anyone to read our documents. That is why it is convenient to encrypt the data stored on a USB Drive.
The easiest way to do this is to use BitLocker, the Microsoft encryption system. Its already included in Windows 10, so you don’t need to install any program. Merely type BitLocker in the Windows search engine and go to Manage BitLocker. Select the USB Drive, and click on Activate BitLocker.
You will have to enter a password, which you will use to access the USB Drive when you need it.
Do you have computers that other people use, or do you suspect that someone is spying on the files you delete?
Eraser is an application that rewrites the space of the disks so that the deleted data can not be recovered. This way you make sure that nobody else will access your deleted files:
- Download Eraser Portable.
Today we accumulate dozens of passwords, and it is difficult to remember them all, mainly if we use several PCs and we have to enter them continuously.
KeePass is a password manager that safely stores all your passwords, and uses them automatically when you need them:
- Download KeePass from its official website.
A panic button that allows you to close or minimize any application at the touch of a key. It also clears the browser history and recent documents.
- Download Don’t Panic! Portable.
Each of us uses our social networks and cloud storage services. If you have several computers at home or work, it is normal to have different programs installed to use online.
The most practical thing is to install portable versions of applications such as Dropbox, a P2P app, or other Internet tools, and take them with you on a USB Drive, to use them wherever you want.
Here are some of the best:
Free Download Manager
Sometimes you need to access a computer to download content. You should use a download manager such as Free Download Manager because, in addition to speeding up the work, you can preconfigure the USB Drive as a download folder. So everything you download will be saved on the USB Drive and you can take it wherever you want.
- Download Free Download Manager Portable
Assuming that today almost all PCs have Chrome installed, it is worth taking other alternatives on a USB Drive that respect privacy, such as Mozilla Firefox or Opera. Both have a portable version so you can install them directly on an external device.
The most popular BitTorrent client also has a portable version. As we have commented with Free Download Manager, it is useful because you can place the download folder on the USB stick and so everything you download remains in the external unit. This portable version is provided by PortableApps and includes one of the latest versions.
- Download μTorrent Portable
TeamViewer is an excellent application to complete group projects or take direct control of a computer remotely. It is always good to take it over if you move through different machines and want to access the central computer, or you have to solve a problem on your boss’s PC or your mother …
- Download TeamViewer Portable
Cleaning & Antivirus
This is another traditional application of a USB Drive. It becomes an essential tool when we have been infected by a virus.
Most malware introduces barriers and blocks to prevent you from eliminating it.
Disconnect the internet, take control of Windows startup, and prevent antivirus installation. The only solution is to start the antivirus before Windows starts, and this is where the USB Drive comes into play, which carries out its boot to install an antivirus in memory before the virus is activated, and thus start to counter it.
Almost all the most popular antivirus and anti-malware have a portable version: Kaspersky, AVG, etc. Everyone knows them, so it doesn’t make much sense to recommend them either. That’s why we opted for ClamWin because, in addition to being completely free and open source, it is designed to perform manual checks, which is what we are interested in from a USB stick, instead of installing it on the hard drive and activating real-time protection.
- Download ClamWin Portable
This veteran cleaner continues to update and add features several times a month. It eliminates temporary files, unusable installations, histories, logs, and other information that the operating system does not need, and also endangers your privacy. Use it to free up space on your computer. The portable version is available officially. Without a doubt, it is one of the essential applications to carry on your USB Drive.
- Download CCleaner Portable from the official website.
The official Windows uninstaller sometimes leaves debris during an uninstall. On other occasions, an installation is blocked and can not be deleted. GeekUninstaller is an uninstaller that performs a complete erasure of the application and can unblock those that have been blocked.
- Download GeekUninstaller Portable by PortableApps
It is quite common to use a USB stick to access a computer whose hard drive has been damaged, and it does not work well. Or you want to recover deleted data that you now need. In that case, you must use a specialized program like Recuva, which recovers deleted files even if they have been overwritten, or that are in sectors of the disk that failed.
- Download Recuva Portable from the official website.
We are collecting the essential apps you should carry on your USB Drive. We have already selected tools for security, cleaning, privacy, etc.
They are applications that allow us to optimize the operation of the computer and make it more secure.
Now the time has come to be productive, with no need to install any program. This is a quick list of some essential apps that should not be missing in any USB pendrive :
The best free alternative to Microsoft Office has an official portable version. It contains a word processor, database, spreadsheet, drawing program, presentations, and much more. Essential!
- Download LibreOffice Portable from its official website.
One of the best graphics editors.
- Download GIMP Portable
This excellent graphic viewer will allow you to convert photos and images, resize them, create presentations, print, and much more.
- Download IrfanView Portable
HWiNFO 32 + 64 Portable
Sometimes we have to access a computer to update it or discover why it fails. It is essential to know what hardware you have. HWiNFO performs a check and offers you all the information about the processor model, graphics card, memory, and other critical data.
- Download HWiNFO 32 + 64 Portable
Do not be fooled by his name. Sumatra PDF reads PDF files, right, but also comics and ebooks in ePub and MOBI format. Ideal to have your favorite books always at hand or read PDF files without having to install a reader on the PC.
- Download Sumatra PDF from its official website .
We could not miss a multimedia player in our collection. This is the most compatible, both for music and for video.
- Download VLC Portable
All Your Favorite Apps
Nowadays, thanks to virtualization and the modular design of applications, it is relatively easy to create a portable version of any program. This means that it does not need installation on the hard drive, so you can install it on the USB Drive and use it on any computer.
It is easy to find the portable version of any program you need. Sometimes it is offered officially by the developer. At other times it is available on specific websites that are dedicated to converting all kinds of applications into laptops.
Ninite is a tool a little different from those commented here. It’s not a portable application or installs programs on USB Drive.
It treats a utility that allows you to include in a USB stick almost a hundred applications, and install them all at the same time in the hard disk of a PC. It is very useful to add software to a new or newly formatted computer.
We talk about all the programs that a PC needs: browsers, antivirus, storage in the cloud, ZIP decompressor, video players, graphic editors, word processors, FTP manager, etc.
Its operation is very simple: from the website of Ninite you choose the applications that you want to place on the USB pendrive.
Ninite downloads the latest version and places them in an autorun menu on the USB Drive. You have to enter it on a PC, and it will automatically install all these programs on your computer, without you having to do anything.
It will also do it in your language, and in the correct version (32 or 64 bits). It saves a lot of time because you do not have to download them and install them manually one at a time.
- Download Ninite from its official website.
PortableApps is a website specialized in collecting and converting programs to a portable format. There are two ways to use it.
On the one hand, you can use the application, which allows you to install more than 300 portable applications. There are all the essential apps to carry on your USB Drive: browsers, LibreOffice, antivirus, password managers, graphics editors, you named it. It’s important to realize that, unlike Ninite, here we are talking about portable versions, that is, they don’t need installation and can be executed directly from USB Drive.
You have the option to download any of these 300 portable applications manually, in case you only need a specific one.
- Download PortableApps