While most people use thumbdrives for storing or exchanging data with other people, I ran a slew of programs on mine.
Before my work PC in office went nuts, I managed to setup a web server and database server to run from my 128MB USB1.1 thumbdrive. It worked wonderfully thanks to PortableWebAp. Note: The current version 1.2 of PWA runs the apache webserver on default port 80 and mysql on default port 3306. Although I’ve managed to reconfigure them to run on different ports (800 and 33060 respectively), I’m unable to reconfigure the launcher program of PWA to point to http://localhost:800/ instead of the default http://localhost/.
From then, because USB1.1 was too slow, I spent my own money to get a 1GB USB2.0 thumbdrive for S$129.00. With all this extra space, I used it to store some important files and tried to load in a few more programs.
FlashFXP (FTP client), CrimsonEditor (text editor for my PHP files) – Requires registry editing each time when run on a new PC, now trying out EditPlus cos it seems to work better on USB then CrimsonEditor, copied in my winamp folder and it’s working fine so far, installed Miranda as my MSN and IRC client and set up Portable Thunderbird as my email program for work and home email.
There’s also portable versions of free word processing software customized to run on USB thumbdrives and Firefox internet browsers. More here.
Great to have most of my frequently used software installed and run independently on thumbdrives. Here’s also a true story that happened to me 2 days ago.
For some unknown reason, WindowsXP suddenly fails to boot up in Normal mode, a blue screen with the words "Page Fault in non-paged area" shows up. So the only thing I can do is boot into safe mode and perform a system restore. With all my apps installed on USB, I wasn’t afraid of losing anything critical, especially my current CRM project.
The only things I lost through that system restore was my Firefox installation, Skype software, my wallpaper, which is all pretty easy to recover. I also have an exported copy of my Firefox bookmarks and adblock filters onto the thumbdrive.
Oh, and one thing I like about exported Firefox bookmarks, they are saved as .html files so you can open it with any browser and click on the links inside. It’s like having your list of bookmarks converted into a webpage.
But be warned that thumbdrives don’t last forever, but at least a long time and you’d want to make backups once in a while.