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Difference between portable and installer software

Some of our software products are offered in two editions: portable and installer.

  • Portable application is a standalone executable file. It can be placed in a folder on your computer, a USB flash drive, or any other removable media, and launched from there straight away. Portable software creates configuration files in its folder and usually doesn't change anything in the system. If you copy the configuration files together with the executable file to another location or media, all your settings will be carried across too. To remove portable software from your computer, you simply need to exit the application and delete its folder.
  • Installer is an application packaged into an installation program. Before the application can be launched, it requires an installation process, during which the installer places the application into a specific folder (usually Program Files), creates shortcuts, places configuration settings into the system user profile, and adds an uninstaller. The installer can also register extra components in the system to enable additional functionality in the application, which cannot be done in a portable application, and which is the main advantage of installers. The disadvantage of installed software is that normally it cannot be moved to another place by simply copying its directory or exe file.

Unless you have specific reasons for using the portable edition, it is best to use the installer to get the full range of features that require installation.

Article details

Article ID: 29

Category: General product questions

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