If you don’t want to bring your laptop with you when you leave the house or office, but still want to carry most of your environment, tools, and digital documents along, a new piece of software called MokaFive gives you an interesting and secure solution.
This thumb-drive loaded software includes a smart collection of utilities to pull this off, and while it can be a bit quirky to get installed and operating, the software could be a big convenience for people on the go. I say secure because the product is a lot safer than just relying upon a borrowed PC at a public kiosk or library. And, MokaFive is free, too.
The notion is that even if you don’t bring your laptop with you, you still want some way to avoid infecting your borrowed PC when you go out onto the cold, cruel Internet. There are several ways to do this on the market, including using U3-loaded USB drives and a software option called Mojopac.
I have written about the U3 USB key drives that come with executable programs on the drive. They work reasonably well, but you have to slim down your software to fit on the key and not all apps lend themselves to this operation. This can be very limiting. Plus, you have to buy the USB key with the U3 software already on it. Mojopac is another alternative that I’ve reviewed for Tom’s Guide. It uses its own virtualization techniques, and does a reasonable job of protecting your session from the host PC that you happen to be sitting at.
But if you haven’t spent time in the world of desktop virtualization, MokaFive is a good introduction. Basically, MokaFive helps you run a computer-within-a-computer, with all the connections to the Internet, peripherals, and access to local storage (or not, as you choose to set these up). This means, for example, you can run your own version of Windows XP and then bring up a virtual computer that is running Linux. Or, install a program in the virtual session and see if it messes things up with your existing configuration. It can be a useful test “sandbox.” The leaders in this virtualization area are VMware, which is now owned by EMC, Citrix’ Xen, and Microsoft.
So, through the wonders of virtualization, wouldn’t it be easier to create a virtual PC of your exact, entire computing environment and carry it with you? That is what the folks at MokaFive have done. And they have made it even easier if you do use VMware – perhaps the most popular desktop virtualization software — to take the virtual disk images that you can create with that product and transfer them to a portable drive to bring with you. But using VMware isn’t necessary on a Windows PC. If you want to use MokaFive on an Intel-based Mac, you will need to get VMWare’s Fusion software.