Thursday, July 31, 2014

The best file manager

*UPDATED - July 8 2015*

Hello! Today I am going to talk about file managers/commanders.

First of all, get clear about what file manager is. It is a pretty nice solution to get rid of the dull and obsolete default Explorer in Windows. One of the first of them (and most popular) was the Norton Commander (yes, the antivirus one!) that came in the 90's. Today all of the file managers are known as NC clones (NC - Norton Commander).

This software is something most tech geeks have played with in their lifetime, and some other non-geeks too have given it a thumbs up. But whenever someone is asked to reward one out of those hundreds of file managers as the best, everyone has varied opinion. Of course I will have too.

file manager competition

Welcome to the highly debatable topic of the best file manager on earth. (You may also know it as file commander.) So today, after months of testing the latest version of each file manager software out there, I have come up with the best of the lot. Here are those (not in ranking order):
  • Q-Dir 6.11 (FREE) (WINDOWS)
  • MultiCommander 5.11 (FREE) (WINDOWS)
  • Double Commander 0.6.3 beta (FREE & OPEN SOURCE) (WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX)
  • SpeedCommander 15.6 (PAID) (WINDOWS)
  • Directory Opus 11 (PAID) (WINDOWS)
  • Unreal Commander 2.02 (FREE) (WINDOWS)
Some would say this review is somewhat common to others. So, what was my basis of coming up with this result and not something else?
  • Practically useful features
  • Plugins support
  • Integration into Windows (replacing the Explorer)
  • Archive support (without external EXE usage)
  • Tabbed browsing
  • RAM and processor friendly / Resource friendly
  • Linux support
Why I just said Linux is because Microsoft's future is bleak, as said here: (http://hctechbyte.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/microsoft-self-destruct-countdown-begins/
http://hctechbyte.blogspot.in/2014/07/microsoft-self-destruct-countdown-begins.html)
So, what do I expect in the chosen ones? Not all of them in any one. Surprising? Most software reviewers try to bring and claim something that has all of it. Some of them have succeeded, though later told by users that their review was a fake. Well, I don't do all that kind of crap. I bring true results to people.


Q-Dir

Screenshots: http://www.softwareok.com/?seite=Freeware/Q-Dir/Screenshots
  • Can have upto four panes in any arrangement possible
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Can save state. For example, you are working with three folders, and you want to close the program and want to work with those very folders the next time you open the program. Use the Save State option and open the 2 KB file wherever you have saved it. It will feel as if you never closed the program.
  • Resource friendly
  • Extremely small size (>1 MB)
  • 32-bit and 64-bit support with Unicode character support
  • Portable versions available
So, it is for sure a complete file manager, right? No. Such a small package can't have everything in its arsenal. There's got to be some disadvantages. So here they are:
  • A bad program author who does not take time and fix many bugs altogether
  • Once integrated into Windows, Control Panel will stop opening
  • No archive support other than ZIP
  • No complex search feature available
  • No Linux support
Note: If you get habitual to Q-Dir, others will become useless for you. You can use third-party apps along with Q-Dir to make work easier. But this is what tabs are made for. Use multiple tabs for many folders in two pane managers.


MultiCommander

Screenshots: http://multicommander.com/screenshots
  • Practically completely useful
  • All plugins come with the setup, that too already configured for you
  • Good integration into Windows
  • Resource friendly
  • Superb archive support (latest RAR5 (WinRAR 5.xx) extraction supported)
  • Complex search feature
  • Small size (16 MB after installing)
  • Portable versions available
  • A very good program author who leaves no errors to complain about
So, it looks more complete. In fact, the ultimate package, right? No. Though it has two things to worry about:
  • All help is online, no help file made
  • When will the author get a Linux version out?

Double Commander


Screenshots: http://doublecmd.sourceforge.net/static_gallery_mirror/
  • Better than Total Commander
  • Support for every Total Commander plugin available
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Resource friendly
  • Complex search feature
  • Covers most archives' extraction (RAR5 supported!)
  • Small size (11 MB after installing)
  • Portable versions available
  • Linux and Mac support
  • Good program author
  • Open source code (development can never stop)
It looks pretty much complete. And indeed it is. But it also has its share of worries:
  • No OS integration
  • No theme support, only single color changing for bars
But atleast if Windows goes down some day, this program will be there for Linux or Mac.


SpeedCommander


Screenshots: http://www.speedproject.de/sc/screenshots/
  • Simple and clean interface with pleasant themes inbuilt
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Best archive support to exist (Compression and extraction: 7Z, ACE, ARJ, BZIP, CAB, GZIP, JAR, LZH, RAR, SQX, TAR, UUE, ZIP | Extraction only: ZIPX, RAR5)
  • Quick access to the desktop and system folders (VERY IMPORTANT FOR POWER USERS)
  • Nero-like burning tool inbuilt
  • ISO making tool inbuilt
  • Complex search feature
  • Good program author(s)
  • Portable version available (http://portableappz.blogspot.in)
It has a lot of problems in it:
  • Paid (you will have to get bucks out of your pocket!)
  • Only 7-8 plugins available, that too by the author
  • No OS integration
  • German help only, no English or other language help made available till date
  • Uses moderate resources, slightly heavy for slow PCs
  • 60 MB after installing
  • No Linux support

Unreal Commander

Screenshots: https://x-diesel.com/ (slideshow on the top right side)
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Resource friendly
  • All Total Commander plugins supported
  • Complex search feature
  • Good program author
  • Small size (about 20 MB) after installing
But there are lots of problems. Here they are:
  • Bad interface
  • Portable version not available
  • No OS integration
  • No Linux support

Directory Opus


Screenshots: http://www.gpsoft.com.au/program/screenshots.html
  • Best file manager to exist on earth
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Viewer for common audio and video formats
  • Viewer for common documents
  • Complete archive support for RAR, 7Z and ZIP and some other common formats
  • Best ever Windows integration by any such program
  • Has burning and image making tools inbuilt
  • Has image editing tools inbuilt
  • Complex search feature
  • And any other little utilities you can imagine....
But it is highly disadvantageous. Reasons are:
  • No Linux or Mac support
  • Exorbitant price ($89 for all the things mentioned above)
  • Lite version available ($49) but crappier than MultiCommander, Double Commander and Unreal Commander (all three free!)

Worthy of mention

FreeCommander XE
  • Feature set is good
  • Tabbed browsing is better than others
  • Layout is awesome
  • Moderate resources consumption
  • Lacks support of content plugins, FTP client and file splitting features

CubicExplorer
  • Feature set is okay-ish
  • Looks are good
  • Bookmarks and quick-links access in side panel help save time at work
  • Tabbed browsing is better than others, and are almost double-sized (for the better!)
  • Lacks a lot of features like support of any TotalCommander plugins

Conclusion

MultiCommander is for system administrators.
SpeedCommander is made for power users like me who want to make the most out of time.
Those who want 4 panes, use Q-Dir.
Those concerned about Windows future and want to have a file manager with Linux or Mac support, go for Double Commander.
The choice is yours.