How Do I Put Firefox on a USB Drive?
You may want to put Firefox on a USB drive for a variety of reasons. Maybe you just want a portable browser. Maybe you want to be able to launch a private browser from other computers. Maybe you want to take all your bookmarks and usernames and passwords with you. Whatever your reason, you need to know the risks and alternatives before you jump right into it.
Let’s first answer the question of if you can put Firefox on a USB drive. The short answer is yes, you can. It’s not easy and there are unseen risks. The biggest risk is that when you use your portable USB browser on another computer, all your activity is stored on that computer. For every computer your use your browser on, a user profile is created on that computer and all your browsing data is stored there. Cache files, history, usernames and passwords, autofill data, etc. All of it is stored on the PC you run the browser from.
If you install Firefox to a USB drive, you must first select the proper version to download from the the Firefox website. You can then instruct it to install to your USB drive. However, all your browsing data will be stored to whatever computer you use it on. This is not secure, especially if you log into any website using a username and password.
You may find portable versions of Firefox that are meant to install to a USB drive and keep all user data stored to that drive. Unfortunately, these are difficult to find and come from unknown and possibly dangerous websites.
Before trusting such unknown alterations of Firefox, you may want to consider a commercial tool like Cloakey by Paraben Consumer Software. Cloakey is a USB drive that includes a full suite of private browsing tools. When you first run Cloakey, it walks you through the setup process to install Firefox as a portable private browser on the USB drive. Note that Cloakey does not include Firefox but facilitates the proper installation of Firefox as a private browser that will contain user data on the USB drive rather than on the computer(s) you use it on. Each time you launch Firefox from the Cloakey interface on the USB drive, it runs in Private mode, ensuring your data stays on the USB drive.
Cloakey even allows you to easily import your bookmarks and autofill data such as usernames and passwords into your Firefox private browser from your personal computer. To prevent unwanted access from lost or stolen Cloakey drives, Cloakey has the option of encrypting the entire drive. Imagine having the security of full drive encryption with the convenience of a personal, portable, private browser that stores all your logins and bookmarks. You can use it on public computers, hotel business centers, or anywhere you want knowing your internet browsing data will not be saved to the computer you are using.
There are more tools that come with Cloakey. If private browsing isn’t secure enough, Cloakey sets up an anonymous browser as well. Anonymous browsers use a network of relays that keep your browsing anonymous, even from your ISP or network admins.
If you don’t want to import your usernames and passwords and encrypt the entire Cloakey drive, Cloakey includes a password manager that will keep your data safe. Last, Cloakey includes a notepad app so you can easily keep notes or other information on your private browser USB drive.