An important thing to keep in mind when using portable applications is that they can be used to spread viruses between machines. While this isn't as much of an issue when you own or are responsible for the machines you are using it on (say work and home), it can be a very big issue when you use a portable app on an untrusted or unknown machine (school, internet cafe, etc). For this reason, it is important that you practice Safe Portable App-ing!
- Use a solid antivirus program on your primary PC and keep its virus definitions up to date.
- Use a solid antivirus program on your portable device, like ClamWin Portable, and keep its virus definitions up to date.
- Scan your PC and portable drive for viruses on a regular basis.
- Whenever you plug your portable drive into an unknown computer, you should assume that it may now be infected with a virus. If the PC has a virus that is currently in memory, it may attempt to infect your portable applications as soon as you plug it in.
- When you then plug your portable drive into another computer (after an unknown), you should first scan it for viruses before running any of your applications. (Most antivirus software will make this available to you by right-clicking on your drive in Explorer or My Computer.) That way, if it is infected, you'll know before you run your applications and the new computer will not be infected.
- Always wait until the drive access light has stopped blinking and then click the icon in your system tray to 'Safely Remove' your device. Don't just remove it. Just because the application's window is closed doesn't mean the app has fully closed and finished writing to the disk.
- Back up on a regular basis, both your applications and your files. PortableApps Backup makes this a snap and it's built right into the PortableApps Suite.
If you follow these simple rules, you'll be able to enjoy your portable applications without getting stuck with a virus or losing your data. As always, there is still the risk of getting a new virus that your antivirus program can't yet detect, but the probability would be relatively low, and you run the same risk whenever you download a file from the internet.