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Turn your flash drive into a portable PC survival kit

Alex Castle | Jan. 15, 2013
When web utilities won't work and all hope fails, a properly loaded thumb drive can fix PC hassles in a flash.

ClamWin Portable

ClamWin is a Windows graphical interface for the Clam open source antivirus engine. It doesn't provide real-time scanning like you'd get in an installed antivirus application, but the portable versions provides powerful on-demand virus scanning for any suspicious files.


Many unofficial tech support geeks consider Malwarebytes to be a go-to malware scanning solution, but it doesn't offer a portable version. You can, however, save the Malwarebytes installation file to your emergency drive and unpack the app directly onto the maligned PC after you've taken a first pass at badware using ClamWin and Spybot portable. A second opinion never hurts when you're dealing with viruses.

Kaspersky TDSSKiller

If you've tried running malware removal programs like Spybot Search and Destroy but your computer is still exhibiting malware symptoms like bogus error messages and browser hijacking, you might be dealing with a rootkit. Rootkits are designed to conceal malware running on your system, and can be very hard to detect themselves. If you suspect your computer might be infected with one, try running TDSSKiller, a rootkit scanner from Kaspersky. Just leave the .exe file on your thumb drive, and run it on the infected computer--it will find and remove most rootkit malware.


Even if you're not trying to uninstall whole programs, deleting files can prove to be a challenge--especially when you're dealing with an infected system. Windows might tell you that access is denied to a file, or that another program or user is currently using it, or otherwise tell you that the file you want gone isn't going anywhere at all.

FileAssassin lets you get around those roadblocks, and delete any file you want. Make sure you really want it gone, though, because it's going to be.

When you snag the program, make sure to grab the portable version, at the bottom of the download list.

Eraser Portable

Sometimes the problem isn't that you can't delete a file, it's that you want to make sure that it's really, really gone. If you need to securely delete sensitive documents or files, use Eraser--an application for securely erasing and overwriting files and directories stored on standard mechanical hard drives. You can also user Eraser to overwrite all the empty space on a disk, making sure anything you've deleted in the past is truly gone.

Revo Uninstaller Portable

One of the simplest ways to get a gridlocked computer running faster is to remove programs that you don't need. This has two benefits: you clear up hard disk space, which can speed up your computer, and you reduce the number of apps running at startup, which can make your boot time shorter. You can uninstall programs by hand, but that's slow going and the programs aren't always completely removed. Instead, keep a portable copy of Revo Uninstaller handy to quickly and completely uninstall as many programs as you want.


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