What Is Illustrator Portable?

By James Crider

Adobe Illustrator is a vector editing program, designed to allow graphic designers to create and edit logos, text and other visual documents. Standard Windows versions of Illustrator must be installed on a single computer and cannot be moved. Illustrator Portable is an unofficial version of Illustrator that can be launched without install, and can be moved from computer to computer with a flash drive or external hard drive. There are many legal and user issues with Illustrator Portable that users should be aware of before using it.

Portable Software

Most Windows programs must be installed with an executable file. This creates a large amount of files on the computer's hard drive and in the Windows registry. Most installed programs cannot be moved, and they must be uninstalled for full removal. "Portable software" is an unofficial term for programs that can be launched from a single file or folder without installing them. These programs are usually small -- or at least smaller than their full counterparts -- and can be moved to a flash drive or external hard drive, then launched on another computer almost immediately.

Portable Versions of Illustrator

"Illustrator Portable" is the unofficial name given to modified versions of Adobe Illustrator that can be launched without a full installation. Considering that Illustrator is a large, complicated program, these modifications are useful to graphic designers and other users with multiple computers, portable versions of Illustrator can be useful. Adobe does not create an official version of Illustrator Portable. All portable versions of Adobe software are unlicensed modifications created by users.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Illustrator Portable

The most obvious benefit of Illustrator Portable is that it can run without being installed. This saves considerable time, especially when moving between computers. Illustrator Portable can be stored and launched on a flash drive or hard drive, and most versions are less than 500 megabytes in size, a considerable compression over the standard version. However, these modifications cause Portable Illustrator to be noticeably slower than the standard version of Illustrator, and older machines may not be able to run it at all. Many versions of Portable Illustrator are unstable and may crash randomly, causing a frustrating loss of graphics work.

Legal Issues

All portable versions of Illustrator are unlicensed and do not require an activation code. While users who have legally paid for and registered the full version of Illustrator may be able to legally use a portable version, using Illustrator Portable without a license is copyright infringement, and it is an action that is subject to criminal and civil prosecution in most countries. Piracy of "portable" versions of expensive software is widespread and should be avoided, both because of the legal ramifications and potential threats to your computer. Note that different versions of software carry different licenses. If you own a license for Adobe Illustrator CS3, but download and use "Illustrator Portable CS5," this is still considered software piracy and is a violation of copyright law.