Windows Software normally comes in two flavors: Installer and Portable. While Installer versions are good for better integration in system as well as better accessibility via Start Menu, Desktop etc., Portable versions are also good because it do not affect system registry or installs hooks and handles and therefore will not influence system performance in any way. Portable version has added advantage of its portability. Although I have a large collection of portable software for managing my needs in public PC, I like to have installable versions in my PC mostly because of its better accessibility.
ZipInstaller from NirSoft
have closed a significant gap between portable and installer version by making the accessibility of the portable version better. It can “install” portable version that comes as zip archive, by keeping the main executable in “Program Files” folder and shortcuts in Start Menu and Desktop. It also adds an uninstaller module to the “installed” portable software.
Although most portable software comes as Zip archive, some comes as some other kind of archive (RAR, 7ZIP etc.). Some even comes as the standalone installer. To use those archives with ZipInstaller, you need to convert the archive type to ZIP using an archiver application. For standalone executable you need to ZIP it first.
For installing a portable version you need to browse for the ZIP file. For each executable in the Zip file, ZipInstaller inspects the version resource information (company name, product name) in order to use it during the installation process. In the dialogue box after completion of installation, the product information (company, product name, version) is displayed.
In this dialogue box you will get options like installing it for the current or all users, installation folder etc. Only the positions of the shortcut folders (Start Menu and Desktop Shortcuts) will change. It creates shortcut of the following type of files.
- Executable files (*.exe)
- Help file (*.chm, *.hlp)
- readme file (readme.txt, readme.htm, readme.html or readme.doc)
- manual file (manual.txt, manual.htm, manual.html or manual.doc)
- Uninstall program (If the uninstall option is selected)
You can save your changed settings, so that those can be used for future installations.
The uninstaller is named as “uninst1~.nsu” and contains necessary information to fully uninstall the “installed” portable software. With this uninstaller, the software gets listed in “Add/remove Programs”.
This software also allows to add to right click menu of ZIP files for quick usage.
Power users can make use of its command-line support.
Although the software have not been updated recently (last update 20th July, 2004), it runs quick good on both 32 and 64 bit.
To tell in brief, ZipInstaller have changed my habit of installing software. The main drawback of the software is its limited number of archive type support. Currently it supports only ZIP.
To caution you, not all portable versions are as good as the installer versions, since for the proper functioning of some softwares, hooks and handles ned to be installed, which are not available while using or installing portable software.
The software can be found in two different direct links.
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/zipinst.html [Standalone EXE]
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/zipinst.zip [Portable ZIP Archive]