Removable Hard Drive Question

Hi guys,

I’ve got somewhat of a noobish question for you.

My brother is currently computerless, and since his computer died, I have been letting him use my own, with limits on what I allow him to do.

For christmas, unfortunately I cannot afford to buy him a new computer, but was wondering about the possibilities of a removable or external hard drive. Idealy, I would like to get him something in which he can install the software he likes to use to, as well as store files on. Is there anyway you can install software to an external drive, such that when it is removed, all programs installed to it dissapear, and the computer reverts back to the way I originally had it?

If I created a new user for him to log in as, when he removes the hard drive, (assuming programs can be installed to it directly), would there be any issues other than broken links or paths to it?

Essentially, I would like to create a new computer for my brother, able to run from my hardware, excluding my hard drive. Is this possible?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

In general it’s not possible to do what you want (in Windows), because most program installations also modify the registry and perhaps add files to the Windows folder or subfolders.

There’s a class of programs know as “portable applications” that will operate as you describe, installing to an external drive and running entirely from that external drive.

You’ll find lots of free portable applications here:

http://portableapps.com/

There are some commercial tools designed to let you carry your desktop setup with you on an external drive, but I’m not familiar with how well these works in practice. Migo is one such example.