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Create portable versions of applications using Evalaze

25 June 2014, Mike Williams

Portable applications can be very convenient, especially if you regularly use different computers. Just copy the programs to a USB stick and you can run them anywhere, no installation required, and no traces left behind afterwards.

Unfortunately many applications don’t have an official portable version, but there are other options you can try. Evalaze is a free (for non-commercial use) tool which converts full applications into a single portable exe file which runs on any Windows PC, from XP up.

Evalaze doesn’t require installation itself, and uses a simple wizard to walk you through the virtualization process. This is quite straightforward, and involves only three key steps.

First, the program takes a snapshot of your system, its files and Registry state.

Building your portable app is surprisingly easy. A wizard walks you through the process.

Second, you install your target program as normal, launch it to complete any initialisation, then shut it down.

And third, tell Evalaze you’ve finished and it takes another system snapshot, detects any changes, and uses these to build your finished executable.

These packages can be larger than you might expect. We took a 12.5MB installation file for a simple authoring tool, and Evalaze converted this into a 217MB executable. But when we launched the package on another computer, it correctly launched our target program, which we could use as normal, then removed it afterwards without leaving any traces behind.

Other applications won’t work as well, particularly low-level system tools, and in one test our package locked up completely. But because Evalaze applications run in a sandbox, they can’t damage your host system, and even in the very worst case you just reboot your PC and it’ll starts as normal.

This free build does have some limitations, and in particular there’s no way to customise or edit the finished portable package (those options are saved for the full commercial version). If you’re a Windows expert, or trying to convert a particularly complex application, you might get better results with the more configurable Cameyo.

Evalaze is extremely easy to use, though, and delivered good results for us with most applications. If you’re just starting to create your own portable toolkit then we’d try it first.

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