Create a portable version of any software with P-Apps

Nowadays more and more programs are coming in installer and portable versions, allowing users to select which version they want to use. However, still there are many programs that are available in installer form only. This is where P-Apps comes in.

What Is P-Apps And What Does It Do?

P-Apps is a freeware program that allows users to create a portable version of any software. Once P-Apps creates a portable version of a program, that program can be used on any Windows machine without requiring any installation — you don’t even need P-Apps installed.

Technically speaking P-Apps works with all Windows software that have installers. However, at the time of this writing P-Apps is a fairly new program (at v1.0 right now) so I’m sure there are still unknown bugs that users may run into; and I haven’t tested P-Apps with all Windows software (duh) so I can’t vouch if it really does work with all software or only works with some programs. My guess is P-Apps won’t work very well with programs that perform kernel changes, such as installing a driver.

Using P-Apps

P-Apps works by taking a snapshot of your system before you install a program, taking a snapshot of your system after you install a program, comparing the two snapshots, and storing the differences (i.e. new files/registry entries) in the portable package of the software in question. P-Apps itself is a portable application so you don’t have to install it — all you do is run it before installing a program, do a pre-install scan, install the program you want to make portable (install like normal), do a post-install scan, and proceed from there.

The following demo video, created by the developer, shows P-Apps in action:

P-Apps Limitation

Because of the way it works – i.e. snapshot method – P-Apps has some inherent limitations.

The first limitation is in order to create a portable package of a program, you need to actually install that program on your computer so P-Apps can record what changes the program makes to create a portable version. This means you can’t create portable versions of software you already have installed; if you want to create portable versions of software you already have installed, you have to uninstall and reinstall those programs while using P-Apps.

The second limitation is you must ensure you have no other program running in the background making changes to your computer while you are using P-Apps. You see P-Apps’ snapshot comparison method is unable to determine what system changes are made by the software you are installing and what system changes are made by other third-party programs that were running in the background. All differences found by P-Apps between the pre-scan and post-scan snapshots are attributed to the software you are installing. So if you have background programs running and making changes to your computer while you are creating a portable package with P-Apps, those changes will be captured by P-Apps and forever embedded in the portable package you created.

Conclusion

P-Apps is a new program so without a doubt it has a way to go before we can call it “mature”; there are bound to be bugs and some software may not work properly with P-Apps. However, even in its current form P-Apps is an extremely useful program.

You can grab P-Apps from the links below:

Version reviewed: v1.0

Supported OS: All Windows

.NET Framework 3.5 required

Download size: 4.3 MB

Malware status: VirusTotal scan results (0/43)

P-Apps homepage [direct download]

[Thanks Giovanni!]

Share this post

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

54 comments

  1. JohnDepth

    For the flash player is different switchers, they allow you to run two different versions of Flash Player. Used for testing.
    For other players – you can use the portable version.

  2. Diego

    Oh, sorry, I wanted to ask about flash player. For example, to install two versions of the flash player such a way to avoid any conflict.
    After your clarification I thought – can I install two identical players, winamp for example? Or some other player. Is it real theoretically?

  3. Rob (Down Under)

    [@Diego]
    If you had a specific program in mind (the one you call ‘player’) you should tell us the name.
    If you are open to any ‘player’ you should specify the features it must have to meet your needs.
    When you say ‘Install two player’, that could mean a couple of things.
    If I am not interpreting your post correctly, you should try to give us much more information

  4. Maxx

    Cameyo has some benefits over P-apps…
    I’m able to change the place where Cameyo extracts the app, default place with both is bad idea: users roaming profile apps-folder.
    On every Active Directory environment is must to restrict the size of roaming profile.
    Hope P-apps newer versions change this behaviour…

  5. Larry

    @Jim-1: The Comment that portable versions created on an XP system will not run on Win 7 is wrong. I’ve created dozens of portable applications on Xp and ran them all successfully on Windows 7 as well as 8. I never did create any on Windows 7 to run in XP so that may be true.

  6. Rod

    Even a bare Windows pc will make registry changes constantly !
    Also what is the suggested procedure when an app installs but you need to register it on the first run ?
    Should you run the tracker over both phases ?

  7. Rob (Down Under)

    Hi Ashraf,
    I have read your earlier article on Cameyo.
    I believe the end result of both programs (Cameyo and P_Apps) is very similar, from the perspective of the final portable program they create.
    I have typed up a very lengthy article, where I conjecture how they work.
    I may submit it to you, if you have somewhere to display it.
    But here is my conclusion –
    A portable app created by either program will be capable of remembering some data (if stored in the user’s Documents and Settings folder in Windows XP), but will be incapable of remembering any changes, if they are stored in the Windows Registry.
    The amount of PIA that causes, will vary from program to program.
    Do those that have used these programs, agree with my conclusion ?

    Rob
    PS On reflection, I suppose the developer of Cameyo could snapshot the Registry for some stuff, and use the real Registry for remembering new settings/preferences.
    So maybe no PIA’s ? ? ?

  8. Janetb

    In above comment, line:
    “P-Apps seems to move an app to a new location, while Cameyo seems to install an app to a new location.”

    ought to read:
    P-Apps seems to gather together and isolate all the needed files for an app in a way that you can move it to a new location without installation, while Cameyo seems to install an app to a new location.

  9. Janetb

    Can anyone clear up my confuson….?

    1. From looking at the respective websites, it seems to me that P-Apps and Cameyo are completely different programs: the former creates portable programs, while the latter creates portable installers.
    My understanding is that Cameyo will only give you a portable PROGRAM if the recorded installation was to a virtual drive. Otherwise, it will have recorded changes to the registry which it will repeat in the new installation, no?

    2. This leaves me not understanding how P-Apps works. It specifically states that it creates an isolated app which does not affect the registry. But if it has recorded changes to the registry in the original installation, how does it change that to a setup that does not touch the registry when put in the new location???

    P-Apps seems to move an app to a new location, while Cameyo seems to install an app to a new location.That’s a big difference.

    3. Further, For both apps, how can you insure you have no other program running in the background making changes to your computer while you are running them??? It seems there would be an awful lot of stuff you have to turn off and then turn on again each time you try a new GAOTD or Dottech program……

    4. Finally, is there a program like InstallWatch Pro (=that lists all the changes made during the installation) which works on Win7 64-bit??

    Hope all these questions will get answered. Separately….:-)….

    [PS Can we not do underlines on this forum??]

  10. Duane Moore

    After using Cameyo for a couple of weeks, I think it is a real winner. I can install an application in a Virtual PC and use Cameyo to produce a single .exe file, which I transfer to my host PC. It works every time. The VPC is a Windows XP, and the host is Windows 7 64-bit. The virtualized programs run Just Fine on the W7-64.

    Before virtualizing a program, make sure to Google for

    portable

    To save some time. GOTD? Yes.

  11. Alsonov

    @Alsonov: You say that they scanned the file with “10-Malware Fighter”. I Googled that name, and also several spelling variants. The results provided suggest that this may be a software you’d rather not have installed on your PC. If this is the case I would suggest they better consider to remove it and instead use a more main stream anti-virus program like Avast or AVG, possibly in combination with an anti-spyware software like Malwarebytes’ Antimalware and/or SUPERAntiSpyware. These are all freewares.

  12. Alsonov

    @Rob (Down Under):
    This same file was scanned at VirusTotal.com by 43 anti-virus scanners, including Avast Antivirus, AVG, Eset NOD32, Kaspersky, Microsoft SE, Symantec, TrendMicro, and nothing was found:

    SHA256: b15f4c4f589cf56b757811d50b88a21cd373ac49f6828b81cdd8968c5141b714
    File name: P-Apps V1.0.exe
    Detection ratio: 0 / 43
    Analysis date: 2012-02-03 07:50:42 UTC

    So, I am assuming this is a case of a false detection.
    Please remember to thoroughly verify any detection before posting alerts on a forum that may cause unjustified damage to the reputation of a developer. VirusTotal has a free online service to do just that: https://www.virustotal.com

  13. Rob (Down Under)

    Regarding P-Apps, I have good news and bad news.

    The good news is, they responded promptly to a request that I raised.
    I am in an XP forum, and someone wrote asking how to run an old program (32 bit with some 16 bit components) in his new 64 bit PC.
    Apparently choosing to run it in 32 bit compatibility mode, cannot handle the 16 bit components.
    I wrote to P-Apps, and asked if using their program would solve that need.
    They said they were working on it, and then emailed me a week later to say it could now handle it.

    The bad news is, some say beware it is dangerous.
    When I posted my good news on the XP forum, a couple of guys wrote that –

    scanned it with 10-Malware Fighter and it came up saying there was some kind of virus in it
    By the way, just scanned another download of it with Avast Free and that’s found a virus in it too.

    whois for that address: http://www.whois.net/whois/portable-app.com I would suggest you DON”T click on the link.

  14. Duane Moore

    I tried both P-Apps and Cameyo. I found Cameyo to be much more reliable than P-Apps. It also produced smaller executables in my testing. Cameyo is a winner!

    @Giovanni: Any installation that is lost can be replaced by copying the portable version in place of the old program. At least that is true for simple programs.

  15. Raj

    @Tommy Tutone: @Janetb: 1. Actually its non usable place (%appdata%) so no need to care about the place where its extracted the data…There may be a chance to get user request where will be extract the installation or supportive files in next version..

    2.They will fetch the application written entries while the installation ..so it will not occupy any huge impact in sizes in all scenario…

  16. Janetb

    @darthyoda6:

    Your partitioning setup sounds great! How did you know how to do junction links? I need even heard the term until this post.

    Would it not speed up things to have the program files separated from personal data if the personal data is huge relative to the program files?

  17. darthyoda6

    For the partitioning debate, on my desktop top I got 2 16gb ssd drives used from my brother. What I did was install Windows onto the ssd, then everything else on a tb hd. But what I did was used junction links, so Windows thinks that the 2 Program Files are on c drive, when they are actually on d. I also did this for the Users directory as well as the Winsxs directory.

  18. Giovanni

    In my previous comment I mentioned TOOLWIZ TIME FREEZE as tool to use along with this gem….

    Well…this is a comprehensive list of FREE SOFTWARE made by the same developer of Toolwiz Time Freeze:

    http://www.toolwiz.com/products

    Since the first two FREE software listed there are simply amazing, I’m now curious to test the other ones mentioned there, because if they were as good as the first two ones…woh it would be absolutely fantastic !!!

    What do you make of it dudes??

  19. Giovanni

    Hey Ashraf!

    Thanks for reviewing this little GEM I discovered last week by chance!!

    The video demo looks IMPRESSIVE, doesn’t it?

    As I already told you in my previous message, posted in the CAMEYO thread, I used this tool on many programs and it never failed so far….so it would be nice to make a comparison between this tool and its CAMEYO but I have a fancy that P-Apps, despite being a new program, is better than CAMEYO….what do you make of it??

    And it’s very useful indeed, especially during Windows OS Migration when users usually have to face compatibility issues between the new OS and the installed software.

    This means that, thanks to this tool, we won’t be forced to beg the support from software vendors anymore…LOL!!

    As for the limitations you mentioned in your article….what if we used a virtualization program like TOOLWIZ TIME FREEZE along with this tool? In such way I think we could avoid uninstalling a program to make it portable with P-Apps afterwards, couldn’t we??

    Finally a tricky questions for you: do you think that this free gem (or even Cameyo) could successfully be used AFTER THE OFFER DATE for limited time freebies like GAOTD or even for TRIAL Software after the trial period??

    And could it replace backup software after reformatting your computer ???

    Can’t wait to hear from you!

    Your Italian friend

    Ciao
    Giovanni

    P.S. By the way…you have already reviewed TOOLWIZ TIME FREEZE, right?? How about TOOLWIZ SYSTEM CARE?? I’ve just tried it and woh…to my great surprise it turns out to be an excellent free PC MAINTENANCE tool , as good as the award winning CCleaner (but maybe even better than CCleaner, taking into account the impressive number of options it can provide to users for FREE ).

    http://www.toolwiz.com/products/toolwiz-care

    Let’s give it a whirl and let me know your feedback about this gem made by the same amazing developer of TOOLWIZ TIME FREEZE. Of course a review of yours about it would be very much appreciated!!

  20. Janetb

    @Finell:

    Hmm….I have never had an update that did not automatically find the program (on D:)!

    Anyway, once all apps are portable (it won’t be long now), everyone will but all the apps on a separate apps partition….:-)….

  21. ttfitz

    @Finell:

    As someone who, as I said before, has over a decade of following this scheme, I can tell you that problems with updates are almost non-existent (updates to programs that are already installed almost always know where the existing program is), and the time spent during installation is also so minimal as to not be a factor. Particularly in my case, because I like to organize my programs outside the main directory, be it “C:\Program Files” or “D:” – this program here would go under “D:\System Utilities” for example – so I would be changing from the default installation location anyway.

    And, like I said, if the few seconds it takes to switch an installation from the default is that much of a burden, you can create a junction that accomplishes the same thing, and then not have to worry about it again.

  22. Finell

    @ttfitz & Janetb:
    Re: Drive Partitioning

    If your C partition, or any partition, goes south, you restore your backup. That isn’t the issue.

    Keeping the apps and OS on separate partitions does make backing up and restoring each one individually easier. In my opinion, this is outweighed by having to change the default path for program installations and, especially, updates. Program installations and updates are far more frequent, and require more of your attention, than restoring a drive partition, so convenience of the former is more important than the latter. As for how long a backup takes, who cares? That should be done while you are asleep. Also, tech support assumes default file locations. Therefore, except for a large organization with an IT staff that manages everything on every desktop, I always advise installing programs in the default location. That means OS and apps on C.

    On the other hand, keeping data on a separate partition or, even better, a separate physical drive, has advantages with no downside. There are 2 ways a partition can “go south”; one of them is failure of the physical drive.

  23. ttfitz

    @Janetb:

    I have a setup just like yours (C: Windows; D: Apps; E:Data) for pretty much the same reason as you, and have for over a decade. There really is no reason why this setup would cause more problems than an “all on C:” setup, in fact in many cases it causes less problems. Sure, if your C: partition goes south, some of your applications on D: may not work when you restore – but in an all on C:, NONE of them will work since they’d all been gone.

    Installing everything to “C:\Program Files” isn’t any simplier than installing everything to D:, except for the need to change the default installation location when an installer wants to throw everything there! And if you are concerned about how things look to Windows, you can always create a NTFS junction that makes Windows THINK the files are in “C:\Program Files”. But maybe that is too complex :)

  24. Jeanjean

    @ Janetb On XP-sp3 ! I have since little Win 7 home premium on another PC, but I must first learn this OS a little bit.
    @ Rob (Down Under) : last conversion in portable… FormatFactory 2.80.
    I got a serie of files – including a FormatFactory.exe – and directories . I gathered all in a directory and created a link to start the program… and it works for as much as I have been judging.
    Same procedure, same result with other programs. I try this for programs i use sporadically.
    Sometimes UE can’t do the job.

  25. Janetb

    @Rob (Down Under):

    I doubt if your friend did the same–I would have no trouble restoring my system….. Obviously a lot gets sent to C automatically–after all, the registry is there..:-)..! But more and more apps now give you the option of installing where you wish. Basically, this simply means the application data and program files do not have to be on C. Thus, whenever you can choose your installation (e.g., for virtually ALL GAOTD and dottech downloads), I put them all on D. I have about 200 apps installed–mostly free/GAOTD/dottech. Don’t want all that on my system drive! Especially not their data! Also, I think it is preferable to have the app’s program files and data files together when you want to find something. Putting all programs on C is a throwback to days when HDs were small. Nowadays, we save much more and consequently need to be more orderly to find things. Also, today’s systems have no trouble using apps not on C (no slowdown). Many folks have a separate partition for apps.

  26. Rob (Down Under)

    @Janetb:
    I had a friend who was doing what you are doing, in his business computer,
    It went belly up, and he could not restore it.
    He then vowed never to do that again.
    When Windows is installed in your C drive, and then applications are installed, entries are made in the Windows registry. DLLs etc are installed into the Windows folder, etc.
    The applications in the Programs folder are part and parcel of that.
    Trust me, ===> keeping that all together <=== in your C drive, is the least complex solution.

  27. Jimmy

    Thank you Ashraf; I’ll give this a try. At the present I am using Portable App Creator 0•99 beta. Although it has limitations of not working on large software, it is easy to use and works for me.

    @ Tommy Tutone – You can try (Portable App Creator 0•99 beta) it installs the app directly onto your thumb drive or external drive. Download it from portableaps.com forum or just Google it.

  28. Janetb

    @Rob (Down Under):

    I know portable programs can be put anywhere–that’s why they call them ‘portable’….:-)…..I think you misunderstood my question…..:-)…..

    This app automatically extracts everything to your C drive. That’s bad for me because I don’t (intentionally) put any programs in my C drive–it is only for system files! That’s what I call keeping Windows simple….:-)….I like to have all a program’s files in its own folder on D.

  29. Rob (Down Under)

    @Jeanjean:
    Super woman ?
    As best I can tell, UE is like 7Zip, except it can extract a bigger variety of compressed files.
    (And it cannot create zips).
    I can see no mention of what you are achieving.
    Say you took a program’s installer, and used UE to extract all the DLLs etc, what are the next steps you take to make all of that into a portable program ?
    I have been programming for 14 years with VB (and other languages prior to that) , and I have evolved to make most of my VB6 programs portable.
    But I could not do what you are doing ?

    Curious/Envious,
    Rob

  30. Jeanjean

    I use – with some success – a portable version of “Universal extractor (UE)” to make portable applications.
    You don’t have to install the software first.
    I’ll try P-Apps when UE can’t do it. Thanks for this review!

  31. Rob (Down Under)

    @Janetb:
    My post (this post), is nothing to do with the portable’ising programs.

    Regarding your D partition.
    You can place portable programs, anywhere.
    However, if you have installed programs, I believe you should keep Windows simple, and install the program into the same Partition as the OS (into the C drive).
    When things go bottom up, you want to be recovering a non complex environment.

    Rob
    PS If you are in the habit of imaging your hard drive (EG via Seagate DiscWizard), then –
    Having your data (or at least large data), in a separate partition is a great idea, as any images you make of the OS, will be much smaller.
    You can image the Data partition as a separate exercise (and probably less or more frequently)
    When you image the OS (C drive), my suggestion (install pgms into C drive) makes life simpler.

  32. Janetb

    I posted this on their forum:

    1. My system has C:SYSTEM, D:APPLICATIONS, E:DATA. Can I make the package extract to a given program’s folder in D:APPLICATIONS instead of Users appdata (%appdata% / Papps)? I want to keep my C:/ clean.

    2. Do you have an entire virtual registry repeated for each program individually? Pardon my total ignorance about virtualization, but does that take up a lot of space (or no space)?

    3. How does the file size of the portable-ized app compare to the amount of space it takes up with the regular, full installation?

  33. Rob (Down Under)

    The Cameyo manual has this –

    Best practice: it is recommended to capture software on the most basic operating system you intend to use the software on. For example, if the software is intended for use on Windows Vista and Windows XP, then it’s best to capture it on Windows XP. Also, the most convenient way for capturing software is on a virtual machine.

    Two things in there may be of interest to you’all –
    – It appears that you can portable’ise in a virtual machine, thus avoiding any real installation that could effect your system.
    – It appears the portable’ised program made in say XP, will run in Vista (and perhaps Windows 7)

  34. Rob (Down Under)

    What we need is a ‘Good Samaritan’ who will use his machine to make portable versions of some programs, and then provide a download link for us to get the pre-portable’ised version.

    “Now who could argue with that”
    (Blazing Saddles, in the church)

  35. Finell

    @Tommy Tutone comment 2: Regarding your point 2, you have to install the program to make the portable version. But, you can uninstall the program once you make the portable version. Also, lots of us have reasons for making and carrying portable versions of programs that we do have installed on at least one of our computers. For example, I could travel with a netbook or tablet and run portable versions of heavyweight programs at a library, FedEx Office, or another available computer.

    Regarding your point 1, if .NET Framework 3.5 is such bloated crap that you cannot abide it, what are you doing running Windows and Windows applications? Windows and “clean machine” are incompatible concepts. A brand new computer running any version of Windows, before you install a single program, is not a “clean machine.” Even a process that does nothing more than occasionally check for a program update wants 6-8 MB of RAM. (By the way, every program that now relies on .NET Framework would be that much larger if it internalized the necessary code. Better to have .NET Framework installed once than to have multiple programs that must be even more bloated without it.)

  36. Jim-1

    I use Cameyo to do the same thing, and it works well. I have not yet tried P-Apps, so I don’t know if it offers any advantages. One more limitation (with Cameyo, and probably with P-Apps too) is that portable versions created on an XP system will not run on Win 7 and vice versa. One great feature of Cameyo is that the default portable version it creates is like a virtual sandbox that can easily be removed so that no changes would be left on the computer used to run the default portable EXE installer file. If P-Apps cannot also remove all traces of the installed portable program, then Cameyo would be preferable.

    Before installing any program now, I routinely:
    1) Create a restore point, just in case;
    2) Run Cameyo to set the before scan;
    3) Install the program, including any license, registration info, and initial setup options that are needed;
    4) Use Cameyo again to capture the installation changes and create the portable EXE;
    5) Run Revo to uninstall the program I just installed, and to remove left over debris in the registry; and
    6) Create a desktop shortcut to the portable EXE that Cameyo created.
    Hopefully, my computer is as clean as it was before I started the process, and I can run the portable EXE on that computer, or on any other computer running the same operating system.

  37. Tommy Tutone

    Two reasons I wouldn’t install:

    MAIN reason:
    .NET Framework 3.5 required <<< deal breaker, just want a "clean machine" no unnecessary crap on my computer…..

    2. You have to install the software you want to make portable first on your computer? That's ridiculous. That's the whole reason I want portable software, so I DON'T have to install software on my computer.

    Thanks though Ashraf, you always come up with the latest and most interesting software!