Updated: March 19, 2011
Prayaya V3 is a portable virtualization software for Windows, which lets you create and run a virtual operation system on an external device. The goal of the software is to provide you with flexibility and portability without compromising your security and privacy.
This concept is very similar to Mojopac, a product which I've reviewed in the past. Mojopac was a very handy and useful product, allowing you to run software from external devices without touching the underlying operating system. However, Mojopac has since been discontinued. This makes Prayaya into a good candidate for portable virtualization.
Let's see what Prayaya can do.
From the website:
Prayaya V3 enables you to create a virtual operating system on your hard disk or any removable storage devices. If you install it on your hard disk, you will be able to install and run your software, manage your stuff, such as files, folders, bookmarks, desktop settings on a virtualized environment independent of the host computer; If you install it on a removable device, you will be able to carry your own personal system and software with you on a USB flash drive, removable hard disk or iPod device so that you can have access to your own stuff, including your applications, files at any time and anywhere as long as you connect your removable devices with a PC.
All the software that you installed on the Prayaya V3 virtual operating system can work on almost any windows OS without reinstallation. Prayaya V3 also makes your host system faster and more secure because all the software and files are stored on the virtual system, no trace and files will be left on the host system. Get Prayaya V3 and experience your brand new digital life.
This looks interesting. There are several aspects raised here: portability and flexibility, security and privacy. We shall address those in the review.
Note: Prayaya is only supported on 32-bit editions of Windows.
What about portable applications?
Comparing to portable applications like PortableApps, Prayaya works in its separate environment. For all practical purposes, Prayaya is a separate Windows installation, with its own system files, Program Files, registry, etc located inside the virtual container. This makes Prayaya handy if you must have programs that cannot run in the portable mode, which the portable apps cannot address.
All right, time for the test drive.
My test box was running Windows 7 SP1 32-bit English edition.
Installation and setup
The installation is fairly simple. You follow a wizard that configures the software for you. Prayaya will identify all external devices connected to the machine and offer them as installation candidates. It does not format the devices, which makes them safe for use.
The combination of external-only devices and no formatting is quite useful for less knowledgeable users. Furthermore, for best performance, you may want to consider a fast disk rather than a typical Flash thumb drive.
The installation went smoothly. Then, I tried running the program.
And I got a BSOD! The system crashed. After rebooting into Windows, I examined the problem using WhoCrashed, which is a handy tool for analyzing Windows core dumps, as I've shown you in my BSOD tutorial.
The problem points at the v3core.sys driver, which seems like a pure software bug. Googling, I was not able to find any similar references or pointers. The problem was also fully reproducible. Seemingly, my review was going to end here, without a solution.
Solving the BSOD problem
I did find in the fix in the Prayaya online support channel. Going through their list of recommended workarounds, there's disabling security software, running as Administrator on Vista or Windows 7 and more. I find the advice on tampering with security products to be detrimental, as it could compound an existing problem.
Another listed entry mentions deleting the v3core.sys driver from under System32 directory on the host machine. This goes against the stated policy that Prayaya leaves no trace on the host system.
The fix that worked was listed under 8.2 - Downloading a new copy of Prayaya driver and replacing the existing one in the i386 folder on the external device where the software is installed.
I'm wondering why this second copy is a separate download and what it does. Furthermore, there's a spelling mistake, which reads: download new v4core.sys file and then replace it with old v3core.sys, which is located ... The sentence should read something like replace the old driver with this new one, which you can download here or something.
Apparently, Prayaya has an issue with Windows 7 SP1, but after downloading the new drivers, things went well.
Finally, I was able to get underway. Prayaya V3 can configure the proxy server in the login menu, which is quite neat. You can also input your serial number or run with user trial, allowing you to run for 30 days, with no ability to update the software and a few other limitations, which I'll highlight later.
The software also properly identified an abnormal exit from the last time and offered to run a filesystem check, which is a good thing. English is a bit rough in some places, but the general idea is conveyed well.
After a few moments, Prayaya loaded into the virtual environment, which looks like any regular Windows, except the control bar at the top of the screen, similar to what we saw with Mojopac.
There were a few odd things in the session. First, the default language selection is CH, which is not what I want. Since I chose English during the setup, I'd expect English to be selected here, too. Then, Wireless is crossed out, which might lead you to suspect that you don't have a network, but it merely means you can't control the network from within the virtual environment.
You can easily switch between environments by using the control bar. It's quite intuitive, with big simple buttons for your most important tasks.
I started exploring, to see what gives. One of the interesting things is a prompt for recommended downloads, which points to a small selection of popular programs.
I tried installing Firefox and it worked well. A completely separate install from the local disk, with a new profile and all. The only problem is that the recommended software links to an outdated version of Firefox, which should be improved. I got 3.6.3 at first, but then easily updated to 3.6.15.
I also explored the Settings menu to see what options the software gives. The environment is fairly configurable, allowing to auto-start Prayaya, show information and upgrade notifications, setup your login, change the skin style, go over the security settings, uninstall the software, and more.
Security seems like an important bit here. And in the short test run, it worked well. I was not able to change any system settings not access the host drives, so Prayaya does run isolated. I can't say how robust the mechanism is in the long run, though, but it looks decent.
You will get some funny notifications while working in the Trial mode, including the limitation on the number of programs you can run, no updates and such like. Not bad overall, but the phrasing could be improved.
System performance was quite decent. The external device speed is the biggest limitation, but other than that, Prayaya was not a memory or CPU guzzler. The memory footprint was about 35MB, including Prayaya and V3 processes, which seems ok.
Prayaya V3 is a quite decent product. It feels more polished than Mojopac, with similar functionality and features. I did not have time to check 3D effects and game performance, so I can't say if there's a graphics acceleration abstraction layer and how it works.
On the plus side, the program works well, it's easy to use, it's intuitive and configurable. On the downside, there was the BSOD problem on first use, which could turn off potential users. The software installation also copied the v3core drivers into the System32 directory, which definitely leaves a trace, so this goes against the promised mission statement. The menus and messages would benefit from some rephrasing.
Prayaya V3 is available for 30 days trial. The standard price is USD49, but it is being offered lately for USD19.60 and you can purchase a USD4.95 extended support. The price tag is fairly reasonable. You get a worthy bargain overall.
Prayaya V3 gets 7/10. If not for the crash-related issues, it would be 9/10.
So if you're looking for a lightweight, portable virtualization product for your Windows, which allows you to spawn a virtual environment on top of your running Windows and use it for all kinds of programs that you can't have installed on your local disk - and be able to carry it around with you, Prayaya V3 offers a decent and useful solution.