How can I setup a portable ArcGIS installation (ArcMap, Catalog) to run from a flash drive / USB stick?

I think there may be an existing solution but I didn't find it yet.

Can I make it myself, and if yes how?

  • 2
    Welcome to SE.GIS. According to me its not possible .Please let us know your purpose and why you want to install it on flash drive ? (because you can run QGIS also from flash drive please check following link gis.stackexchange.com/questions/28771/…)
    – Sunil
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 10:31
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    ArcGIS Runtime can be on a flash drive, but it does not include Desktop. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 14:00

3 Answers 3


Short Answer: You can't.

Long Answer:

ArcGIS Desktop is built upon layers of Legacy Components, and it hooks deep into your Windows OS.

It is a mix of FORTRAN, COBOL, C++, COM components, ActiveX and .NET assemblies. It requires Windows Registry to save some of its configurations, and the various dlls need to be registered: Some with the GAC, others as command components in the registry.

It is not a portable App, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.


You might be able to create a portable version of ArcGIS using VMWare's ThinApp. It's an application virtualization package. It's going to cost you however. Pricing starts at $5000 and I'm not sure it's even legal to create a portable version of ArcGIS.


You can however run ArcGIS Explorer from a flash drive, and you can use that to connect to an entrprise (SDE) database or file geodatabase. If you use fgdb with layer files all of the symbology that you build and save for the layers in desktop will display in explorer. Also ArcMobile for windows can run from a flash drive.

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    Whats your source on this? Looking at the Explorer download page you need to have at least .NET 3.5 installed and then install Explorer. At the very best I can only imagine pulling pieces of the installed product onto a flash drive and am skeptical that would work.
    – KHibma
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 15:42
  • Here is the link. You basically install to PC, copy the program files to USB. webhelp.esri.com/arcgisexplorer/2012/en/copydeploy.htm
    – klewis
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 14:11

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