Is there a way to install .NET on a USB drive, pop it into a machine and get .NET working without actually installing it on a client's local machine?

I am also trying to figure out how to do the same for SQL Server. Is it even possible?

4 Answers 4


I think the answer will be No.

Anything else would be a major hack, .NET install updates all sorts of things in the system, and its loader assumes those things are in place (e.g. GAC exists, location of compilers, IIS/IE/... integration).

  • I don't think there is no reasonable way without actual hack, which I don't consider to be worth it for my current situation. Thank you Richard.
    – dance2die
    May 5, 2009 at 14:56

I would also add that when you look at SQL Server, you're looking at a service which needs to be installed and executed, so no go for that as well without major hacks.

  • Great to hear that it's gotta be a hackjob to install SQL Server as well. Thanks John.
    – dance2die
    May 5, 2009 at 14:57

No, its not possible for reasons stated by others here.

Your best bet is to require .NET to be installed, and then run your .NET application from the thumbdrive.

If you need SQLServer but dont wanna install that beast you can use SQL Compact (included in .NET) and store the database in the same folder on the thumbdrive.


I sense that the need to "install" .NET & SQL Server to a USB drive has something to do with the overhead of installing them to the hd (size, files, etc). Installing these to a USB is impractical, development-wise. Why not build a Virtual PC instead?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.