Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How to install a program on your thumb drive

Today I will answer a very good question submitted by a reader.

Q: How do I install a program on my thumb-drive so I can run it from there?
A: One of the handier uses for thumb-drives is to load them with programs and use them as sort of a ‘computer-on-a-stick’. As I mentioned in a prior article, I have a bootable thumb-drive loaded with troubleshooting programs which I use as a portable repair kit. But you don’t need to make a thumb-drive bootable to run programs from it.

The most popular way to put programs on your thumb-drive is to either purchase a (pre-configured) U3 drive, or download and install the suite of portable programs called Portable Apps. Both of these methods will give you a portable word processor, web browser, and other useful tools — and offer other “portable” programs for downloading. (These, btw, are an excellent resource for individual “portable” downloads. Another resource is the collection of portable freeware programs)

But let’s say you want to install the very useful troubleshooting tool Process Explorer or some other program that is not specifically a “portable”, or part of the suites mentioned above. If the program is not larger than the available space on your thumb drive — Office 2007 will not fit on a 512MB drive, for example — use the following method to install it. (I am going to install the popular free anti-spyware program AdAware as my demonstration.)
1) download the setup.exe to your computer’s desktop, using the “Save” option (not “Run”).
2) Insert the thumb-drive.
3) Open My Computer, and locate the “Removable Storage” drive letter that is the thumb-drive. In my case, that is “Removable Disk (D:)”, but yours may differ.
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4) Double-click on the downloaded installation setup.exe (on your Desktop), and start the Install process. Here you will agree to the EULA, click Next a few times, and go through an install wizard. Do this process as you normally would except you need to change the install’s Destination.
5) Change the Install Destination Folder to the thumb drive’s drive letter (in my example, that’s D:\) At some point, the Install wizard will ask you to choose a destination or accept the default (the default destination is C:\Program Files\) and here is where we need to make the change. If you go through the wizard without being asked for a Destination, use the the “<Back” button and change the Install Type from “Typical” to “Custom”.

Click on the Browse button and then double-click on the D:\ drive.
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6) Now let the Install Wizard do its thing. When it has completed installing, click on the “Finish” button.

That’s it. You’re done.
When you “Explore”, or “Open Folder for Viewing”, or otherwise look at your thumb drive’s directory, you will see the AdAware.exe icon. That means the program is available to be run.. just as if you were running it from your computer. Literally, a program-on-a-stick!
Remember, I used AdAware as an example, but you can pretty much do this with any application (“executable”), though — since a thumb drive’s size is somewhat small — I recommend you seek out a “portable” version of your program if one is available.

Today’s free link(s): Well,.. let’s see.. I count four sprinkled through the article..

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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December 12, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, software, tech, thumb drives, tweaks, USB storage devices, Windows | , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Put your thumb drive to work (updated)

I often use a specially configured USB “thumb drive” as my portable PC repair kit, and use it as an alternative to a “boot CD”. I have made it “bootable” and loaded it with useful tools and repair applications (like an antivirus scanner). It has come in handy, from time to time. With the price of these drives being as affordable as they are, there’s really no reason you cannot have a portable PC repair kit (on a stick) too.

Tip of the day: Making yourself a toolkit-on-a-stick requires a couple of steps; first you must format it to make it bootable, and then you must load it with the tools and applications you think you will need — if the thumb drive you’re planning to use is small (say, 512MB), you will want to get the “portable”, or “Lite”, versions of these programs if they’re available.

1) Make the drive bootable. The geekier (remember, I use “geek” as a compliment!) of you out there may be already familiar with the DOS utilty FDISK, and if you are and you still have a Windows 98 Install CD (or a Win 95 boot floppy) laying around, you can format the drive using the format /s command as outlined here.
If that doesn’t fit your description, or you are going to use a larger thumb drive, I suggest you download and run (it is a Wizard, so you just follow the prompts) a tool offered by HP (the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool), which should do the work for you: get it here.

2) Now that your thumb drive can be used to boot a machine, it’s time to load it up with some useful programs and utilities. I started with the DOS tools FDISK, scandisk, and format. There is some debate amongst my fellow Tech Support-types as to which utilities are “must have’s” (but we all agree on some version of antivirus and anti-spyware) and I’m not going to trouble you with that. Instead, I’m going to point you towards today’s free link (below) and a wonderful pre-made suite of very handy portable applications, and suggest the addition of (my previously mentioned) HiJack This!

If you used the copy-the-system-files method (the “format /s”) you will already have chkdsk and fdisk and a few others.. or if not, these can be added. If you are not going to install Portable Apps, I suggest you do install Portable Firefox (or similar Web browser) so that you can access the Internet, for downloading device drivers.

To make it more of a “repair kit” you can add: a Registry cleaner/fixer, such as CCleaner and or AMUST Registry Cleaner, Process Explorer, and another anti-spyware like Spybot Search&Destroy.

Click here to read my article on the steps for installing programs on thumb drives.

Today’s free link: Portable Apps.com. This collection of portable application runs completely from the USB thumb drive. It has a Webbrowser, word processor, antivirus and more. Get started on the road to thumb drive power here.
[Update: Bill Mullins has brought to my attention a program for running apps on your thumbdrive that seems superior to others I have mentioned. To read his review, click here.]

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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June 28, 2007 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, BIOS, computers, hardware, how to, PC, tech, thumb drives, Uncategorized, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments