Flash drives have more use than as portable storage for your documents. With a Web browser installed on your device, you can easily take along your bookmarks, Web history and other preferences when using a computer at school or work. However, simply copying your browser files to flash drive often won’t work, as many programs use system directories or have other system-specific dependencies. To circumvent this, users have developed portable versions of some open-source Web browsers that remove system dependencies and store preference files in the same directory as the program.

Portable Versions of Major Browsers

PortableApps.com (link in Resources) hosts a repository of portable versions of common browsers, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. To install a portable browser on your flash drive, download and run the installer for the browser of your choice, and then select your flash drive when prompted. You can also install the PortableApps.com Platform (link in Resources), which adds a launcher menu to your flash drive, helping you to download, install and launch portable applications from one window. Other portable browsers are also available for use, including Opera@USB and QtWeb (links in Resources).

Speed-Optimized Portable Browser Alternatives

There are other Web browser alternatives that have been optimized for speed -- this is especially useful if you’re planning to use your flash drive with older or slower computers. For example, Pale Moon uses the Mozilla Firefox interface and engine, but removes several Firefox features to optimize speed. Chromium Portable does the same using the Google Chrome engine. Another choice -- Avant Browser -- is also optimized for performance and speed. To install any of these portable browsers, download the installer from its respective website (links in Resources), and then run the installer and select your flash drive as the installation location.