Any difference using Joplin Portable to the Desktop version?

Hi, as I recently had a bit of a challenge with the sync on Win10 laptops, I was wondering if there is an advantage to using the Desktop version to the Portable version?

I use two Win10 laptops and an Android 9 phone and use Dropbox to sync between.

Have always preferred using portable apps where possible, but not on a usb. Is there any advantage to using the Desktop version?

When I tried connecting the Desktop version when I was having sync issues, I got the following dialogue box

Can anyone help with what that means?

Many thanks


Older version I had syncing issues:
Win10 laptop
Joplin 2.8.8 (prod, win32)

Just updated to:
Joplin 2.9.17 (prod, win32)
Revision: a84a8e7

Android 9 phone
Joplin 2.8.1

I'm a fan of the portable version as well: on flash drives (can only be fun when writing speeds are fast enough) and on several Windows 10 notebooks. The only major difference that comes to my mind is that Joplin Portable is slower to start than the installed version, but I'm interested to hear what others say about the issue (i.e. advantages of Joplin Desktop over Portable).

It shouldn't really be any different, it is slower because it has to unpack itself first (essentially it unpacks the regular Joplin stuff then runs the normal Joplin executable). I guess it could have different permissions etc. based on where you run it from but that is more your OS permissions than it is Joplin.

There is one more difference concerning the Web Clipper. After clipping something, the clipper asks whether to open the note inside Joplin, however with Joplin Portable this doesn't work (i.e. nothing happens) since the portable application isn't registered as the default handler for such links.

I've been using the portable version since shortly after starting to use Joplin a long time ago. I used the full version on my PC for a while then switched. The performance is a bit slower in stated, this can be mitigated somewhat by using the portable version from a PCs SSD / HDD rather than a USB thumbdrive.

I use it on several of my PCs and 2 cell phones. I have the portable version on the local hard drive of all of them and use sync to keep them all in line. Periodically I shut down Joplin on my main PC and then copy the whole Joplin portable folder to my USB drive. I have never used it since I have access to Joplin wherever I go on my cell phone, but it's there along with a raft of OTHER portable apps on my thumb drive. I have one plugin installed, Simple Backup, it works just as it should. I have it save a backup in the sync folder of my Google drive (OneDrive on my work PCs) so I have a bunch of backups available should something go awry. .

Can't reproduce this, I'm afraid (or lucky, I should say :slight_smile:): Clipped notes can be opened directly from the addon menu, using Joplin Portable. There is a funny side effect, however: A new browser tab opens, which is entirely blank (on Firefox).

Maybe it's the installed version you're referring to, but that's a major drawback IMO: Plugins cannot be updated within Joplin Portable. The only way to do so is de- and re-installing (which can be quite tedious because of the slow starting times already discussed in this thread).

Hmm, I had never even tried to update the Simple Backup plugin because I just started using it a few months ago. I just did an update on it and it actually updated on my portable Joplin version's plugin OK through the OPTIONS menu. I just clicked UPDATE. So, perhaps SOME plugins don't update on the portable version but looks like at least this one does.

As far as startup, yes I can see the portable is slow but I launch it on startup as I use the portable version from my SSD on each machine. I load gobs of stuff on login and it takes quite a while to login so it's really of not consequence for me. If you are going to use the portable directly from a USB thumb drive then perhaps the slow launch would be an issue.

Personally I like having the program and data all together on a separate data drive worth the portable versions issues, and besides the slow loading I see none. But as they say YMMV.

Strange. I've been using JoplinPortable for 3 years, I have about 10 permanent plugins, they all update without needing to reinstall anything.
I click on the update button and restart Joplin, that's it.

Thanks for the two feedbacks about updating plugins in the portable version. I'll post the error message next time the problem occurs.

The Joplin password on portable mode isn’t saved securely as the standard release.

Would you please enlarge on this? As far as I'm informed it's part of the SQLite database in plain text in both forms of installation. That's why we're supposed to take care of securing the local config folder on our own in any case.

"The Joplin password on portable mode isn’t saved securely as the standard release."

I'd heard something like that before. Personally I put my Joplin portable app and it's profile on a VeraCrypt encrypted drive. I also don't use it to store stuff like passwords or very sensitive stuff. I use another app for that.

It's because when it's installed we can use the keychain to save the passwords and other secure settings. In portable mode, they are simply saved to the local database

Sorry for the late response. In addition of what Laurent said. You could check if the Keychain is supported in Joplin (Help menu → about Joplin) :

Joplin 2.9.17 (prod, win32)

Client ID: f60eeac9b64c4dfb9b5e1887bbdeb292
Sync Version: 3
Profile Version: 41
Keychain Supported: Yes or No

Revision: a84a8e7

Thanks for clarification, @Dino and @laurent !

There is indeed a "no" flag for keychain usage on my portable versions. As they're all stored either on devices with full drive encryption or in VeraCrypt containers, I should be safe nevertheless.

I hope that keychain implementation holds true for Android and iOS as well because many users will have copies of their profile folders stored in device backups (unwittingly or not). Luckily those backups can be secured by using E2EE since iOS 16.3, but we have to trust Apple that the keys for this are in users' hands only.

So thumbs up for open source and all the good work invested in Joplin!

Wow! Joplin is so useful and practical :slightly_smiling_face:

Brilliant thanks

That sounds like a reason to change to the Desktop version. I just checked @Dino Keychain NOT supported (although I don't understand what that means).

@laurent any idea what my original post screenshot means, as I think I'd prefer to move over to the Desktop version :thinking:

Joplin 2.9.17 (prod, win32)
Sync Version: 3
Profile Version: 41
Keychain Supported: No
Revision: a84a8e7

I also use the portable version (on my PC's SSD) and was surprised by this statement. Why does Joplin need to be unpacked every time I start it? In my directory is the startable Joplin.exe together with all other files.

Also, I notice that Joplin Portable is not, strictly speaking, portable at all, since it stores its data "externally" in C:\Users\USERNAME.config\joplin-desktop. Is there any way to prevent this? I want to have everything (program + data) in ONE directory.

Can't confirm this: Joplin.exe and its JoplinProfile folder work well together when stored anywhere (in the same directory of course). That's why it's so easy to 'set up' (not the right term here) Joplin Portable on a new device.

Noob question (although I've been around here for some time): Can I setup Joplin desktop as easily by copying the config folder from another (already existing) desktop installation to a new PC? I just want to avoid re-downloading from cloud. But I also want to avoid conflicts or inconsistencies of course.

That may be, but when I start the portable version for the first time, the user profile (under Windows) is automatically created in the mentioned directory. I have no influence on that, and in Joplin itself I can't easily adjust the path.