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How to Carry Your Office on a Stick (USB Flash Drive)

As USB flash drives continue to get faster and provide increasing amounts of storage capacity, you can use them for more than just backing up files and documents. You can actually run a ton of applications right from your flash drive, which can come in handy when you’re on the road outside your office or home. There are some popular suites of flash drive apps, such as PortableApps, which we’ve covered before. There recently announced freeware portable apps for popular packages such as Google Chrome (s goog), Skype and even uTorrent. However, PortableApps is not the only game in town these days.


NirLauncher is another impressive suite of portable apps that are easy to launch from your USB flash drive. It includes the entire collection of useful Systernals troubleshooting tools. The author makes the process of setting up all of these apps easy, with a file named systernals.nlp that you simply copy to the Systernals folder.


LiberKey offers a super-slick interface with three different packages of portable apps, including audio, file management, graphics, Internet, office, security and networking tools. Here’s a list of all the applications available.

Lupo PenSuite

Lupo PenSuite also provides a graphical interface that’s been translated into 28 languages for managing a plethora of portable apps (over 200, including popular apps such as 7-Zip, Audacity, CCleaner, eMule, FileZilla, Firefox, Foxit Reader, GIMP, IrfanView, Notepad++, Opera and Pidgin).

Individual Portable Applications

Of course, you don’t need to have an app suite launcher to install portable apps on your USB flash drive. You can simply copy them to your flash drive manually. For example, i.Scribe is a fully functional email client that you can run from you flash drive. Just drag it to your stick and you’ll be able to read and compose email messages. It also includes a calendar, address book and supports many plugins.

It’s a good idea to add anti-virus protection to your USB flash drive. Avira AntiVir Personal is a free anti-virus program that you can install on your flash drive.

There are numerous portable versions of browsers that you can use on your flash drive. The most popular are Portable Firefox, Portable Google Chrome, Portable Opera and Avant Portable Browser.

Portable OS in Your Pocket

You can actually install a stripped-down version of Windows XP on your USB flash drive thanks to software like BartPE (Bart’s Preinstalled Environment) which makes the process extremely less painful and more efficient.

If you prefer to roll with a Linux-flavored operating system, instead of a mini-Windows, then you can do so with the help of You can select just about any type of Linux, such as Debian, Ubuntu, and many more. You can find ready-to-burn Live CD images here on The LiveCD list and UNetbootin.

How about Mac OS? Yes, that’s possible too, although you’ll need a USB drive that is 8 GB or larger.

Virtual OS on a Stick


VMware is the leading innovator of virtual operating systems. It started by developing a way to install multiple operating systems on a single desktop but eventually found its niche by offering a platform to host multiple virtual servers instead of just desktops operating systems. It now provides a way to install a complete virtual operating system on a USB flash drive with a product called VMWare ACE. Not only can you run everything you run on a normal full-blown desktop or laptop, but it also provides connectivity back to your company’s network via a secure VPN. Thus, you can pop your flash drive in any computer with Internet access and work on your own customized desktop and even access your files and documents on your corporate LAN.

What do you carry on your USB flash drive?

18 Responses to “How to Carry Your Office on a Stick (USB Flash Drive)”

  1. I’m a bit disappointed that webworkerdaily would include an illegal software package like LiberKey. It’s well-known that they’ve stolen software and code from PortableApps and are a flagrant GPL and other open source license violator. Even the freeware they do is packaged in violation of the licenses.

    • Doriano contacted LiberKey about the allegation that they illegally package software. They vigorously deny the claims that their software is illegal. We have not received an official complaint from any of the copyright holders involved, so I am leaving the post as it stands.

  2. In the future our “workstation” will travel with us no matter which hardware we find ourselves sitting in front of. As someone behind the curve who is just now discovering this little USB memory devices, I found this post very interesting. Thanks!

  3. What a great application for virtual software. As the world becomes more and more virtual I could almost imagine a time when a computer is just a machine and we all carry around our own personal data with us on keychains. That time is not far off.

  4. Thanks for the kind words. I know I am constantly impressed with the quality apps we can setup on our USB sticks. The vmware ACE product is the most impressive of the bunch. You pop in your thumb drive and your own desktop appears, connected to your company’s network!
    Its desktop has all of your shortcuts to your fave apps too.

  5. Yep, having documents ready on the fly is pretty much essential these days. I use a thumb drive on my keychain for smaller projects, and use my iphone as a HD when I need to have bigger projects available. Thanks for the quality information.