Simply Storage or Portable Platform?

April 17, 2010


When I learned that Microsoft was releasing a new revision for the Xbox 360 software, I got very excited.  I really wanted to try out the new flash drive capabilities.  So I started to hunt around the house for a spare flash drive.  Unfortunately, they had all been claimed by various members of the family.  So I started looking around for a cheap flash drive.

Well, I found a great deal on Amazon.  I could get a 16GB flash drive from SanDisk for $32.  Of course, it shipped with U3.  But I knew how to take care of that.  When the drive arrived a few days later, I simply used the U3 uninstall utility that SanDisk provided.  After clearing out the partition table and reformatting the drive, I had a great new external storage source for just a few dollars.

After successfully testing the new Xbox firmware, I realized that I didn’t want to commit 16GB to storing Xbox games and game stats.  So I reformatted the drive yet again.  And then I decided that I wanted to build a real portable platform with it.

My needs were simple.  I wanted a thumb drive that would house all of my important tools.  And I didn’t want to install those tools every time I visited a new workstation.  And when I stepped away from that workstation, I didn’t want to leave any flotsam, jetsam or personal data behind.  I knew that tools like this existed because the U3 suite is basically a commercial (and invasive) version of what I wanted.  After a few minutes, I ran across several definitions of portable applications.  And I found the website.

The folks at PortableApps should be commended.  They have developed an open source platform that lets you use portable applications from almost any kind of portable storage device.  You can use a hard drive, an iPod, a phone or even a flash drive.  And lots of people have packaged apps to run on this platform.  In fact, it is the diversity of pre-defined applications that makes this platform so impressive.

After installing the PortableApps framework onto my new flash drive, I set up a dozen of my most favorite applications onto the drive.  In fact, I am using a portable instance of Firefox as I enter this post.

After working on this for a couple of hours, I realized just how powerful these kinds of devices/platforms can be.  While it is always best to provide support remotely, sometimes you have to go to a system in order to resolve its issues.  If you equip your support techs with a drive that has their most critical tools, you can increase the chance of solving problems while reducing the cost of providing that support.

I can’t wait to use this new flash drive for all of the support activities that I do throughout any given week.  PortableApps, FTW!




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