The Best of the Best Portable Applications for 2011

June 7, 2011

By popular demand, following the publication of last year’s article aptly named “The Best of the Best Free Portable Applications“, we have decided to make an annual edition out of this topic, starting right now with “The Best of the Best Portable Applications for 2011”.

To be honest, rankings haven’t changed that much since last post (except for a few notable exceptions), and you will find that some of the portable apps are being featured in both articles. However, we reckon that being made aware of that fact is also important, so you don’t have to waste your time looking for better alternatives that simply put, do not exist.

Another prerequisite to make it to this list is that the application must be made available free of charge. No shareware, demos, 30-days trials or any other commercial venues are being reviewed at the moment. And last, it must be said that unlike last year’s, this list has been made from a Web Developer’s point of view, so no games or fancy stuff either, just the right number of portable applications designed to make the life of the on-the-road developer a little bit more comfortable.

Without any more preamble we present you now with a succinct list of portable applications that in our opinion are the top best at the time of writing. Comments are more than welcome.

Best Portable Browser

Google Chrome

This year the Browser Crown goes to Chrome for several reasons, the most important being speed. Chrome feels fast and this is specially true when loading YouTube videos, something that we do all the time. Chrome also does a pretty good job of managing dozen of simultaneously open tabs without noticeable glitches, which also is part f our daily routine.

And yes, there is a Firebug extension for Chrome as well.

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Best Portable e-mail Client

Mozilla ThunderBird

A very complete e-mail client that comes with every feature a regular user may need and works quite well.

A simple and friendly interface helps coming to grips with this program that supports many protocols including SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, NNTP and RSS, and whose functionality can be extended with the use of plug-ins.

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Best Portable FTP client


A fully-featured FTP client that is fast and highly reliable FTP client with lots of handy features.

FileZilla supports some very nice features resume on both downloads and uploads, timeout detection, firewall support, SOCKS4/5 and HTTP1.1 support, SSL, SFTP and much more, all within an intuitive user interface.

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Best Portable Text Editor

NotePad++ Portable

Not only the best replacement you can find for that clumsy NotePad application that comes with all Windows computers by default, but also the best companion for those who deal with large chunks of text on a regular basis.

Among its nicest features are Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding in C, C++, HTML, ASP, Java, Pascal, CSS and others.

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Best Portable Image Viewer

IrfanViewPortableIrfanView Portable

Tiny, fast and able to read and write just about any image format imaginable, including those pesky .ico favicons.

Some basic editing functions allow you to crop, rotate, adjust colors and do a little retouching. Other advanced features include batch conversion, slideshow creation, support for Adobe Photoshop Filters, etc.

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Best Portable Image Editor

GIMPPortableThe Gimp

It’s a little known fact that The Gimp can do for free just about all that costly Photoshop can, and then some more, like advanced batch image processing, and the ability of being portable.

Just don’t let the unusual interface put you off. Once you get used to its way of handling things you’ll find yourself reaching high levels of productivity and focusing on the production issues that really matter.

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Best Portable Vector Editor


Also little known is the fact that Inkscape can do for free just about all that costly Illustrator can, and then some more, such as its superb handling of .svg vectors, and the ability of being portable.

Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features, such as markers, clones, alpha blending, etc., that are much needed when creating icons for mobile applications, for example.

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Best Portable Multimedia Player


A free portable alternative to Windows Media Player that handles most multimedia formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, XviD, WMV, mp3, ogg, etc. as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

It can also be used as a media converter or even as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

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Best Portable Server


If you work with the likes of WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or any Content Management System that requires a scripting language and a database connection to run, XAMPP is practically indispensable, specially if you’re on the move and an Internet connection is not a certainty100% of the time.

XAMPP allows you to locally install a fully-fledged server complete with Apache, PHP, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, OpenSSL, Webalizer, a Mail Transport System, an FTP Server, SQLite, ADODB, etc.

A leaner option that satisfies most developers is XAMPP Lite, that only comes with the base packages (Apache, mySQL, phpMyAdmin, SQLite and related) which results in an installation that’s half the size.

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