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Some programs, like Firefox for example, have normal versions that need to be installed and portable versions. I know the difference between these.

Now are there any reasons to not use the portable version (instead of the normal one)? I mean, are there some negative effects? Why is it needed to have installable versions while there are portable ones? (If you only use it on 1 machine)

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closed as not constructive by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Dave Rook, 8088, Tog, CharlieRB Mar 25 '13 at 18:29

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/… - not much difference in older versions, but can't find any detail in newer versions –  Dave Rook Mar 25 '13 at 15:01
    
Your question is too vague. I suggest you change it to only refer to FireFox, as it stands (asking about all programs ever) it is too broad! –  Dave Rook Mar 25 '13 at 15:06
    
I like this question, if there are no disadvantages, why is portable not the default option? –  David Mar 25 '13 at 15:12
    
Thanks Hennes and Zoredache, upvoted your answers, they are both very useful! I think Zoredache's arguments are the best so I accepted that one, but if I could accept both answers I would definetly do so. –  Jop Vernooij Mar 25 '13 at 20:02
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Portable versions of some applications disable some functionality by design.

  • Explorer/OS integration. On Windows for data files it is common to have an Open-With option on the Context menu that will open a data file with a particular program. Portable apps do not automatically register with the OS to permit this to happen.

  • Portable apps are often compressed/packed, and are decompressed when they are loaded. This makes the application consume less space on small portable drive, but it does result in slower startup times. The portable version of a text editor I regularly use takes ~3 seconds to start, the directly installed version takes 0.5 seconds to start on my machine.

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Installed versions can use less resources.

For a simple comparison, look at these two setups:

  • Installed version for Jane (Everything needed to run. Programs and data)
  • Installed version for Joe (Everything needed to run. Programs and data)
  • Installed version for Mike (Everything needed to run. Programs and data)
  • Installed version for admin (Everything needed to run. Programs and data)
  • ...

Compare it with this:

  • Single installed program (e.g. one firefox.exe)
  • Only data (bookmarks, cache, etc etc) for Jane.
  • Only data (bookmarks, cache, etc etc) for Joe.
  • Only data (bookmarks, cache, etc etc) for Mike.
  • Only data (bookmarks, cache, etc etc) for admin.
  • ...

The second version can use much less disk space.
If there is a newer version you only need to update one program, not one per user.


A less simple answer would also add things like shared libraries (less disk space, only loaded once into memory. Same update advantages). And that might even be faster (more free RAM, less data in the cache, which means a greater chance that the right data is available).

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