Right now I'm reinstalling Visual Studio on my workstation, and it's taking forever. Which reminds me I should have a backup environment available.

I'm looking for a portable Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for C and C++ that can be installed in the user folder and run with low priviledges.

It should be quick to install and configure. In particular, it should not require too much work to make it recognize a compiler. It would be nice if it came bundled with a compiler.

Needed features:

  • full support for UTF-8
  • runs on Windows
  • Open-Source and free to use
  • syntax highlighting (recognizing C++11)
  • code completion (at least for the STL)

Very welcome features:

  • runs on Linux
  • code formatting (like the one in Eclipse and Netbeans)
  • refactoring (ability to rename variables)
  • can run on a USB key (must be able to find a compiler)

The (optionally) bundled compiler should be up-to-date. I've seen many IDEs that do not meet this requirement, and come with an old version of GCC (4.8.1). I don't know why, since 4.9 has ben out for months already, and the 4.8 series has hit version 4.8.4 already.

Dev-C++ is lacking UTF-8 support, so please don't even mention it.

  • Did you ever find a solution with GCC 4.9? I would like one too. If not, maybe you can roll your own using CodeBlocks (see my answer below) and wiki.codeblocks.org/… to install 4.9 separately?
    – Mawg
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 14:00
  • Btw, if you go the Cygwin route, see cygwin.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_install_a_newer_version_of_GCC
    – Mawg
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 14:01
  • If you did find a solution, please post it here, in order to help others. Thanks.
    – Mawg
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 9:20
  • 1
    I didn't. Many IDEs with portable versions still ship with an outdated compiler (Code::Blocks) or don't support UTF-8 (Dev-C++).
    – Agostino
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 14:48
  • Thanks for letting us know (+1). You might even want to post that as an answer. Was Netbeans plus Cygwin really out of the question? You might have to compile GCC from source, but this page might help cygwin.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_install_a_newer_version_of_GCC
    – Mawg
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


The easiest free GCC based IDE for Windows is Code::Blocks, which can be portable. But, alas, it doesn't currently have 4.9 - perhaps you could ask on the forums? Or, would you consider using 4.7 or 4.8 to build 4.9 from source & adding that in to whatever solution you choose?

Since you like NetBeans, you can use a portable version, but that leaves you with the problem of a compiler, for which I would recommend Cygwin (and make sure that the compiler is up to date)

Or, you could just create a VM and use portable VirtualBox.

  • 1
    Code::Blocks released an update in January 2016. It offers a sensible zip package with the compiler, the IDE and all its plugins. It ships with GCC 4.9.2 32bits, which is not the latest version, but still an improvement.
    – Agostino
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 14:48
  • Glad to hear that. You seem to be getting closer to a solution.
    – Mawg
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 15:12
  • 1
    I see they now ship with a more up to date C++ compiler and finally offer a 64-bit version too.
    – Agostino
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 11:32

So why not use Eclipse, as mentioned? Should run on both Windows and Unix. Just need some plugin to worck with C++. Embarcadero Dev-C++ seems a good solution and there is a complete portable version with actual compiler.

  • 1
    Does it works as portable and quick to setup? I think the question was all about avoiding long downtimes in an emergency.
    – Alejandro
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 18:56
  • 1
    Eclipse does not ship with an up-to-date C++ compiler. Moreover, it requires JRE/JDK. I suggest removing you answer since it does not fit the question.
    – Agostino
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 11:29
  • 1
    Ther was a portable version of Eclipse. Also was nothing said about performance requirenments, so JRE/JDK should not be a problem.
    – convert
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 13:21

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