USB Drives are getting larger and cheaper every month. A few years ago, my first 1gb drive cost $70. Today, I can get a 32gb USB drive for that much. Back then, the common size for drive was 128mb. Currently, the common size I am seeing is 4gb.
Now that USB drives 4gb and larger are common, Portable Applications are a great choice to include on your USB drive. I had played with the PortableApps.com Suite several years ago, but when I only had a 2gb drive, the suite of applications was not very convenient for me. The PortableApps Suite took up most of the 2 gigabytes of space on my USB Drive. Today, I am using an 8gb drive and now have plenty of room for my documents and a plethora of portable applications. Portable Applications are generally small or refined programs that do not require an installation process on your computer to run. These apps were either designed this way, or altered to allow them to be “portable”. Personally, I try to run as many “portable” applications as possible because every “installed” application contributes to the eventual slowdown that all Windows-based computers get as time goes by.
There are portable applications to cover probably 90% of what most typical PC users need. The PortableApps.com Suite includes an Email Appication (Mozilla Thunderbird), Office Suite (Open Office), Antivirus (ClamWin-A/V), IM Chat Client for Yahoo, AIM, and MSN (PidginIM), PDF Viewer (Sumatra PDF), MediaPlayer (CoolPlayer+), and Web Browser (Mozilla Firefox). There are dozens of other portable applications that can be found at pendriveapps.com and everythingusb.com. The list of portable applications grows everyday.
The main advantage of using portable apps is that you can easily take your data and work with you. Since all of your work files and settings are on your USB drive, you can take the drive to another workstation and not have to worry if that computer has the same version of word processor or presentation software.
Of course, there is a disadvantage to this as well. If you are prone to losing stuff (keys, wallet, phone, etc), then you might not want to put all of your data in just a USB drive.
If you do choose to use portable apps on your USB drive, I strongly recommend backing up your data on a regular basis.