Most applications these days have a portable version. These apps can be carried around on a USB stick and used without installation on a computer.

Whether you are a frequent traveler who uses public computers or just wants to be prepared if you need to reset your PC, loading up a USB drive with some useful portable apps is a great idea. But which are the best tools for your USB flash drive? Let’s find out.

Table of Contents
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    1. Chrome

    It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call a web browser the most essential application on any computer. And Google Chrome is currently the fastest and most powerful browser available in the market.

    Fortunately, Chrome is also available as a portable application. This means you can carry your bookmarks and personal settings with you while traveling without having to reinstall and reconfigure the browser every time.

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    That is not to say that Chrome is the only option. If you prefer open source apps, then Mozilla Firefox is another great portable browser. Whichever app you choose, make sure to keep a web browser on your USB stick.

    2. 7-zip

    Computers can deal with .zip files by default. The thing is, most files downloaded from the internet are going to be using other archiving formats. Extensions like .7zip and .rar are quite commonly seen these days.

    To open such files, you need to carry a good file extraction app on your pen drive. And 7-zip is the most popular and most lightweight of these apps.

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    You can use it to open and create almost every file archive out there, including obscure formats like tarballs or gzips. Keep a portable version of 7-zip on your USB stick to open all kinds of compressed files with ease.

    3. Recuva

    A common reason you might need to use portable apps on a pen drive is for formatting or resetting your computer. Such an action can often wipe all the data from the PC, leaving it with nothing useful.

    That is why you should also load your USB stick with a data recovery tool. This is one of the best portable apps for your flash drive that makes it possible to partially or even fully restore all of your lost data.

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    Recuva is an excellent choice for this, as it is a portable data recovery tool that can run directly from a USB drive. Moreover, unlike most such tools, it also lacks a data limit. As a result, you can use Recuva to recover as many deleted files as you want from your computer.

    4. Gimp

    Image editors tend to be large programs. Applications like Adobe Photoshop require quite a bit of storage space to be installed. But what if you could carry a fully functional image manipulation software on your pen drive?

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    Gimp is a relatively lightweight open-source tool for working with digital images. Its feature set is quite similar to photoshop and allows for advanced image editing. The best part is that it is available in a portable form, which can be put on a USB stick and operated without installation.

    5. VLC

    The most irritating thing about reinstalling the operating system on your computer has to be multimedia. Playing a video file isn’t as simple as just double-clicking on it – the appropriate codecs are also required.

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    The best way to ensure that you can always play your multimedia files on any computer is to carry a good media player with you. The VLC media player is probably the best choice for this, as it is a well-known open-source application that supports almost all multimedia file formats.

    6. Free Download Manager

    If you are in the habit of frequenting cyber cafes or relying on public wifi hotspots, you know how spotty the internet connection can be in such places. Unfortunately, downloading anything larger than a few megabytes is an exercise in frustration.

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    The Free Download Manager is one of the best tools for a USB flash drive that can help you out in these situations. Keeping the portable version of this app on your USB allows you to manage and accelerate your downloads on any PC. It can continue paused downloads, split them into parts, or even download videos from some sites.

    7. qBittorrent

    On the topic of download managers, you may also want to keep a torrent client on your pen drive. Because while you can still download normal files without a download manager, you cannot download a torrent without a suitable client.

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    There are many good torrent clients out there, but one of the most lightweight is qBittorrent. The portable qBittorrent barely comes up to a few megabytes and can easily be taken on even the oldest USB drives without any issues.

    8. SumatraPDF

    A web browser like Chrome can usually open .pdf files as well. But, a web browser is resource-intensive, and you might want a dedicated PDF reader, especially on old public PCs.

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    SumatraPDF is a well-known free PDF reader available in a portable form as well. You can place the executable on a USB stick and run it from there to open .pdf files and view them without installing anything.

    9. CopyQ

    A clipboard manager is probably one of the best tools for your USB flash drive you can get to boost your productivity right away. Instead of keeping track of what you have copied last, you can just keep copying and sort it all out later.

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    CopyQ is a popular open-source clipboard manager. It allows you to save copied text and images in customized tabs, then paste them anywhere. Better yet, it is available as a standalone app that can be carried on a USB drive and used from there.

    10. Everything Portable

    The default Windows search functionality can be a pain to navigate. The search results don’t appear immediately, and the interface is unintuitive. Thankfully, better search tools are available.

    Everything is a simple application that can locate any files and folders you are looking for instantly. The resource usage is minimal, so you can use it easily even on older computers.

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    The best part is that it is available as a portable version too. Just put it on a pen drive, and you can tap into its advanced search capability on any computer you use.

    Do You Need To Keep Portable Tools On Your Flash Drive?

    Prepping at least one pen drive with a bunch of useful tools is highly recommended. You never know when your PC might break down or need to be reset. Running some essential apps from a USB stick can help out a lot in such a case.

    Each of the applications mentioned above has been carefully selected for its utility, making up a versatile toolbox that can handle the most common uses of a PC without installing anything.

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