For years, USB Flash Drives have provided a convenient way of transferring files from one computer to another or carrying around data you need to access while on the go. Now, with 16GB sticks selling for $40 or even less, they have reached a point where you can do far more with them. The PortableApps Suite is a compilation of free and open source software for Windows preconfigured to work from your USB drive, and integrated with a sleek customizable menu.

There are numerous advantages to carrying your applications around on a thumb drive; for one, it’s a great way to get things done when you’re at a computer that’s not your own without storing any information on the host system. It also lets you take your bespoke settings anywhere, including active bookmarks in Firefox and multiple IM accounts in Pidgin.

In all, you’ll get a web browser, email client, office suite, calendar/scheduler, instant messaging client, antivirus, audio player, Sudoku game, password manager, PDF reader, minesweeper clone and backup utility. Just pop your PortableApp-loaded drive onto a free USB port and you are ready to go.

The suite comes in two flavors; a 355MB Standard version and 150MB Light edition which replaces OpenOffice for AbiWord to save disk space – or if you only need a simple word processor. There’s also a stripped-down version which lets you add only the applications you choose. All versions come with the integrated apps menu and backup utility, along with a set of custom icons, auto play configuration, folders, and a quick start shortcut.