Hardware

Five indispensable apps to carry on a USB stick

Introduction

Ah, the USB stick -- one of the IT admin's best friends. It travels with you and helps you rescue machines, work magic, and make end users sigh with relief. Some of these apps you copy to the hard drive and install; others can be run from the stick itself. A few of them are full-blown operating systems that can help you completely recover a corrupted or infected platform.

Whatever the style and purpose, there are plenty of portable apps for the USB stick that can be hard to live without. Here are five tools I deem must-haves.

Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.

Photo: iStockphoto.com/grekoff

 

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

74 comments
jbookout
jbookout

Slideshows that refresh the whole page are worthless and lazy.

56Wrecker
56Wrecker

For being "a writer" for over 12 years....Jack Wallen doesn't WRITE MUCH. This article is ALMOST useless.

hug.login
hug.login

Just a general comment on those thumbnails. It's a pretty annoying concept. It's slow and the whole thing jumps around. Maybe it's just me but I'm visiting this site less frequently because it just not a pleasant browsing experience.

Cynyster
Cynyster

When it comes to "Stuff" that you can keep on your thumb drives, It really depends on your need. I have one that is my emergency boot USB and it has Hirens boot CD and a few other recovery tools on it. I have another which is my "Roaming Workstation" that I have encrypted with "Truecrypt" and it has all my portable applications (from Portableapps.com and pendriveapps.com Third I have another encrypted drive with nothing but installs, patches and plugins for those time when internet is slow as molasses in winter. Forth, And empty thumb drive for transferring files back and forth.

JamesWoods
JamesWoods

Your recommendations now get deleted as a matter of course. At the moment it's not worth the effort. Try being less clever with the technology and make it customer friendly. As for on a smart phone - do you guys actually know how to format for them?

nobs127
nobs127

I thought this web site was designed to make things easier for us idiot users and not for advanced degree IT professionals? My son in law has 2 advanced computer degrees and even he had a hard time finding the downloadable apps. Come on guys you can do better , can't you?

davidewhite
davidewhite

I am so glad to see others also have issues with this format. I am just unable to understand how to use the picture-arrow-next or what ever it is. How about sharing the info in a fasion we can actually use?

ebade
ebade

For when you need to edit files (including configuration files). My point here is that you need a tool that allows you to edit text-type files.

ernman111
ernman111

i'm about over techrepub...their layout sucks..i am not about to drill down to search for their headline...this is about the worst layout i have seen in a long time...the amount of work to find stuff is just ridiculous...i'll be unsubscribing shortly...

shark_this
shark_this

This is just a repost of a blog. I don't get what's so hard to understand about it? It works fine for me and I'm on an iPad.

terry.marston
terry.marston

URL's to download sites would save some time for those apps we decide to try.

tasmouse
tasmouse

This isn't helping much. Where are the download links to download the software?

Jiggy Gaton
Jiggy Gaton

great PC list, would like to see the same for a mac, although I can almost guess what that would be...

NZJester
NZJester

When it comes to portable FTP programs I normally use the FireFTP plugin installed in Portable Firefox.

creed
creed

So we can't write a store we only get to see pics of an app...lazy, lame and does not work.

sgriffithsnz
sgriffithsnz

Why can't manufacturers make USB keys with a write-protect switch again? This has been the most valuable option on the old 64MB key I have - a virus can't write to it if it is protected, so it makes for the best carry-all for scanners etc. If I could request one feature to make a comeback.......

glennho
glennho

I'm about ready to kill my subscription - every article requires my clicking through thumbnails, whose only reason for existing are to expose me to more advertising. You're wasting my time, forcing me to view a gazillion pages for miniscule content of often meagre value. Two thumbs down for thumbnail tedium.

mike.gordon
mike.gordon

Imoseley may be correct about some folk , but I think most of us are adult enough to know why the slideshow format has been chosen. I for one find it infuriating as I have no real desire to see a screenshot of a program until after I have read a review and found it of interest. This just takes away from my experience and leads me to use this part of techrepublic less ;??(

lmoseley
lmoseley

What you guys who are complaining about the absurd slideshow information delivery system here fail to understand is the base intent and goal of TechRepublic. You act like their goal is to provide users with information. WRONG! WRONG! Their intent is to have users read ads. When they take information and chop it up into little pieces and show each piece with ads, THEIR goal is achieved. And, so long as the info is good and the slideshow not TOO obnoxious, their goal is reached.

jewettg
jewettg

I have to agree. Many of the daily rags: eWeek, TechRepublic, and many others are using these ridiculous slide shows and it makes it very hard to consume a bunch of information in the morning hour you have to catch up on the latest. Just blog. .. or if you must to the slide shows, give us the option to read it on a single page. http://www.sysresccd.org/SystemRescueCd_Homepage SystemRescueCD SystemRescueCD is the Linux distribution to have if you're going to carry one around on a USB stick. With this distribution, you can recover partitions, recover data, image a disk, test a hard disk, edit configuration files, burn a disk, check for rootkits, run an antivirus scan, securely wipe a hard drive, and much more. http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable Portable Firefox Sometimes, a Web browser is a necessity for solving a problem. But when the browser on the desktop won't run, what do you do? You break out Portable Firefox. This version of Firefox has all the great features you're used to. In fact, some will be hard-pressed to figure out that Firefox is running from a USB stick. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/combofix/ ComboFix ComboFix makes almost every recovery tool list for me. No admin kit is complete without this powerhouse. It is my go-to tool when I encounter some of the nastier viruses and rootkits. Almost without fail, if an antivirus can't catch it, ComboFix can. Unlike common antivirus and anti-malware applications, ComboFix will display (upon completion of running) a detailed report of exactly what it took action on. Note: To run ComboFix, you'll need to copy the .exe over to the computer and install it. http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/filezilla_portable FileZilla Portable FileZilla Portable is the one and only FTP client to carry around with you. Why would you need an FTP client? There will be times when you must load a file from a troubled computer to another machine. The easiest way to do this (when all other methods fail) is by using a portable FTP client. An FTP client is especially crucial when a file is too large to fit on a USB drive or if the file must be loaded to a remote machine you do not have physical access to. This application is run directly from the USB drive and isn't installed on the PC. http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/explorerplusplus_portable Explorer++ Portable Explorer++ Portable is a file manager with all the usual features you've grown to expect from a file manager. But why should you carry a file manager with you? Have you ever had to repair a machine where Explorer won't run? Makes for a major challenge. Having a portable file manager gets around that issue with ease. Explorer++ Portable offers features like tabs, keyboard shortcuts, a customizable UI, drag-and-drop support, and file merging and splitting.

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

an infuriating, waste of time way to show it. Thanks for sharing the good info, but please get a clue about the best way to share it.

rpatelsky
rpatelsky

This is not an article - it is an example of bad UI. Page needs to reload for each item.

nzsly
nzsly

I gave up after the first one

kmeek
kmeek

The portable apps suite has all the tools you could want including utilities, office suite, keepass -- it is awesome!

ebenezet
ebenezet

The second the comment by kjohnson....you folks need to add the five applications as a list instead of screen shots...since it would be a lot easier to read.

bart001fr
bart001fr

While I agree with the general consensus that these articles do NOT belong in the slideshow format, but in a short format, listing only the titles of whatever is being enumerated, and in the longer format which should be a PDF which would download when one clicks it. On the other hand, articles such as Crackin-Open's by Bill Detwiler should be in this slideshow format, where we see a medium-size image on screen, but can call up a bigger sized image which should further be zoomable by at least one or two sizes. The same goes for when a reporter presents a series of pictures of an event such as the LegoWorlds and Vegas IT shows. There, zoomable pictures are a must.

sarai1313
sarai1313

its like i am tripppppping it takes soooo long to get there. reminds me of captan krik

dwallauch
dwallauch

I really dislike the way these articles are displayed, that forces you have to click through, takes too long to take in the article's information !! Like I/T professionals have TIME to click through these cumbersome slide shows!!!???

roberto.gerold
roberto.gerold

Can someone please shoot the webdesigner who builds this crap

Thumper1
Thumper1

I thought I was the only one that didn't like the slide show format.

hwelte791
hwelte791

I don't know what fool came up with the slideshow format, but it stinks. and from what I see with the other comments, most people who bother posting fill the same way. go back to the white paper format.

chinton
chinton

I agree with other comments that have been made. I wanted the "list".....in a list. Then links to further explanations would have been nice.

awilson77584
awilson77584

Your asking if we would rather read your article as a blog post is silly. Rotating screen shots my save space for more ads, but it isn't what we want. It is a reminder that we are not your customers. If your customers would hand you the same amount of money if we never visited your page, you would not print this site at all. That fact illuminates the value of your information.

tutor4pc
tutor4pc

It seems the author likes puzzles. This is about the worst presentation I ever saw. What is needed is a structured explanation. How many USB drives of which size do I need? Which programs are usable once I need to boot from the USB drive, and so on.

wolfgang
wolfgang

This site comes under the heading "lights on but nobody home". There is nothing clear or concise about this site, very confusing.

erik
erik

Combofix expires. You have to download a new version on a regular basis. It seems like they update it daily.

bdl6164
bdl6164

Seriously! Guys just get the newest Hiren's Boot CD. I think it's still v15.1. That is what I use. You can put it on an 8 gig USB stick and boot from it or run it's menu in an OS. Hiren's BootCD 15.1 - www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd It is what a real IT engineer relies on.

finny
finny

I agree, this site is confusing and difficult. The links seem to be hidden. Why? tom

bobc47
bobc47

Your articles are getting worse by the week. Getting the information that you offer is like pulling teeth, if you can't do better than this I suggest you just close the site down and give the license back to the pool.

allenm28
allenm28

I am interested in the 5 Indespensible Apps but there doe snot appear to be any efficient way to see the listing of them on this web page. Whoever designed this web site needs to fix it to make it user friendly.

Ps119:105
Ps119:105

If you continue to present your information in a confusing interface instead of a simple and easy to read list/article, I am going to unsubscribe. There is so much going on with your webpages I can hardly navigate around.

finny
finny

Where is the link to the file? I find this is often missing. BUMMER!

hemophilic
hemophilic

Pretty sure they do it this way to generate more page ad views... I'm not looking at the thumbnail views anymore, period.

bart001fr
bart001fr

While I know it was a slip on your part, I agree with you that he was more often than not a "krik".

bart001fr
bart001fr

If you mean the white paper format in PDF, I wholly agree. It should not be the job of the reader to make pdf's of these otherwise useful articles.