Sunday, December 02, 2007

File Managers, Copiers, and Sync Utilities

Yep, more great utilities to share.

Take your time...lots of great finds here to pick from.

Kinda like the Hot-Wheels isle-bin at Wal-Mart.

Except these are all free.

Multi-pane File Managers

Be careful.

Find one of these you like and you might never open Windows Explorer again.


FreeCommander - (freeware) - This application remains my number-on file manager. I think I would replace Windows Explorer entirely with it if I could.  It is a dual-pane view which is really handy for jockeying files and folders between two locations. It has  build in support for file compressing/decompressing and previewing compressed files, it can report sizes of files/folders, you can open a command-prompt in the location you are in, you can split a file into smaller portions, you can do a secure file-erase, use the built-in file viewer or editor, and the file/folder search tools are great.  Create and view MD5 checksums, and set all kinds of favorites, and preference settings. It has a wealth of built in utilities that makes it very sweet.  It also comes in a portable version!

FileCommander 5 - (freeware) - This is one bad-ass multi-pane file explorer. I don't say that lightly either.  Sporting a default 4-pane view, you can drag and drop, slice and dice file across multiple locations to your heart's content. It is portable and can be run off USB drives, CD-Roms, etc.  It picks up a lot of your favorite folders and software programs and makes them quickly accessible. you can split files, view running processes, set "bookmarks" to commonly accessed locations. The GUI interface is HIGHLY polished.  Definitely a keeper on any system.

mtExplorer - Multi-pane File Explorer - (freeware) - Like a more zen-like view? Try mtExplorer.  It can display anywhere from 1 to six explorer window panes at once. Really amazing.  It doesn't come bundled with any fancy utilities like the first two above.  The interface is kinda Windows 95, but it works well for this tool.  You can change views from icons, to list, to detail views.  Download and run. Settings are saved in a .ini file so it is also portable on USB drives.  Drag and drop files from the panes or use the right-click context menu.  Either way, it is a great, tiny and useful utility when working with files in multiple folder/drive locations.

Alt Commander - (freeware) - Kinda Win9x in the GUI, you can change the default font and make it a bit more pleasing to the eye.  It provides a very simple interface for dealing with files and folders. One bonus is the FTP client built-in. You can compare files and explore within zipped files before decompressing them.  Multi-file renaming is also supported.  Tiny and quick.

File Navigator - (freeware) - Want to go really Old School? This is the tool for you!  With a very DOS Console view GUI, it may (or may not) bring back warm Windows 3.x/DOS memories to your heart. It contains an internal file viewer, command line support, file name coloring, a FTP client, quick views, drag-n-drop support, file search filtering, file renaming, viewing of multiple archive file format contents on the fly along with integration for external archival applications, NTFS file compression/security support, folder comparison and synchronization, make file lists, customize the color scheme, storage of the settings in an .ini file (that makes it USB portable!).  It's fast, and l33t.

Advanced, Tabbed, or otherwise cool File Managers

While these don't support multi-pane views in the normal sense, they do provide tabbed or multi-view like file explorer views, along with a plethora of handy utilities for working with the files.

A43 - (freeware) - This used to be my number-one file manager before I found FreeCommander. It still is wonderful and I keep it around. The GUI interface is nice and pleasing to the eye. You have a Windows tree structure on the right, then to the left is the contents listing. Below is a third pane where you can select a quick-launch tool, a text-editor, a second file-explorer pane, a file finder, a hex-viewer, and an image previewer.  You can set favorite folder locations. It has a built in compression utility that lets to compress files in Zip format, into a EXE Zip unpacking format, a UnZipper and a UnRAR'er.  You can filter/mask views of files in a folder, split large files into smaller portions, and do a secure file wipe.  Pretty nice and still being updated. Works fine from USB.

XYplorer - (freeware) - I have to confess, I had seen screenshots before and not been really impressed or thought I would find it worthwhile.  I was mistaken.  On launch you get a fairly traditional view in a nice GUI interface.  To the left is the file/folder tree, on the right is a listing of the contents of the selected folder. Below is a series of tabs that lets you clearly view the selected item's properties, version, a preview if supported, a Raw view if supported, a file finder, and a reporting tab.  It really provides a pleasing way to view and explore your folders and files.  You can set viewing preferences and set favorites. It has quick-links to some key system locations. AND, it is tabbed-based (unlike pane-based) so you can open multiple tabs for different drives/locations. Some people prefer this approach over the multi-pane approach.  Yep, USB portable. Take a look.

UltraExplorer - (freeware) - Quite similar to A43. Viewable features can be undocked and floated on the desktop space. Toolbars as well.  Move buttons around.  Create a favorites pile (Drop Stack) of your files for quick access, build a favorites tree via drag-n-drop, open command line windows, filter views, create new tabs for multiple views. All standard right-click menu items apply.  Apply themes to the GUI. Can provide a multi-pane view, along with tabs so it is VERY flexible.  It might not have all the bells and whistles that the others do, but it provides great flexibility for customizing a Windows Explorer view just the way you want it to look.

File/Folder Synchronization & Backup Tools

These are the best ones I know of to keep folders and/or drives synchronized between locations.  Generally not for the average user, but if you like to keep a store of your favorite "portable" applications on your system, but maintain copies on your USB drive, they are dead useful!

DSynchronize - (freeware) - My all time favorite utility. The interface is very utilitarian but it is well designed and works flawlessly. Sync two or more folders on hard drives, floppy disks, LAN shares, USB media, CD/DVD's if drive/media supported, or an FTP server.  You can set time/date schedules for sync activities. You can preview sync activities before "applying" them to see what exactly will be occurring. You can set options to sync one-way or two-way (bi-directional). You may control if files are deleted, overwritten, newer-files only, and a few more.  It is very fast and easy to use.

Toucan at - (freeware) - Very pretty, very simple, and very useful GUI interface. Designed with USB portability in mind.  Synchronize, backup and encrypt your data. Designed around 5 action tabs, allows quick function selections. This version features:
    * Four synchronization modes, copy, update, mirror and equalize.
    * Backup and restore in industry standard zip and 7-zip files
    * Encryption using the BURP updated blowfish algorithm
    * Command line support, allows you to create a batch file for repeated jobs
    * Portable variables, point to places on you USB drive no matter what its drive letter is.

SyncBack - (freeware) - easily backup and synchronize your files to: the same drive; a different drive or medium (CDRW, CompactFlash, etc); an FTP server; a Network; or a Zip archive.

Cobian Backup - (Open Source) - The developer explains that this is "a multi-threaded program that can be used to schedule and backup your files and directories from their original location to other directories/drives in the same computer or other computer in your network. FTP backup is also supported in both directions (download and upload). Cobian Backup exists in two different versions: application and service. The program uses very few resources and can be running on the background on your system, checking your backup schedule and executing your backups when necessary. Cobian Backup is not an usual backup application: it only copies your files and folders in original or compressed mode to other destination, creating a security copy as a result. So Cobian Backup can be better described as a "Scheduler for security copies".

Specialized File Copier Utilities - For the Pros

Roadkil's Unstoppable Copier - (freeware) - Use this tool to attempt to copy files from disks with bad sectors, scratches or other errors encountered during normal copy attempts.  If it can't copy the entire file perfectly, it will work hard to make it recoverable to the best degree possible.

SuperCopier - (freeware) - This is an unusual program in that when run (at startup or manually) it takes over from the normal Windows copy dialog box and process.  It provides additional information that might be useful to folks who do heavy or large-volume file coping. It provides lots more feedback as to the progress and status of file-copy activiity.  Not for everyone, but worth taking a look at.  Can be made portable if you don't want it installed in the system itself and just run it manually on demand.

CopyHandler (CH) - (freeware) - Works to copy/move files between locations in a manner more efficient than Windows copy methods. Supports copy/move but also enhances it by allowing for pausing, resuming, restarting, in addition to simple cancel options.  Over 60 optional settings to configure activity, provides detailed file copy/move feedback, can resume unfinished operations after system restarts (cool), can be set to limit concurrent copy actions and batch additional tasks in a queue to automatically begin. Can integrate with system menus.  Really, really cool (and portable). (download page link)

Advanced LAN Pump - (freeware) - This one is "designed for unbreakable file copying on Local Area Network Microsoft Windows (LAN Download Manager). The program can copy files and folders and automatically tries to restore copying process after an error occurred. The program has user-friendly interface, "Quick Info" graphical window with alpha blend channel, support drag&drop files, provides flexible copying process management. It helps you to save your time, network traffic and to decrease stress."   Note: the download link here isn't working, so I am linking to the last good version off of portablefreeware.  You can also find more polished (GUI) versions on the web at other locations but those do not appear to be freeware versions. (download and info page via

Pick one or two, or pick them all.

I carry them all on my USB stick.


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