I've been lurking around DC on and off and couldn't help but post my $0.02 (edit: a lot more, in hindsight) on this topic.
I'm relatively new to file managers, sure I had NC running in the DOS days and I've had Servant Salamander on my PC since the Win9x era but I was using plain ol' Explorer (and getting by fairly well) for most of my day to day chores, very rarely using Salamander when Explorer's bad sense regarding copy/move operations got in the way. So while I'm by no means an expert, my opinion is also unbiased coz I
didn't have any affinity towards a specific file manager.
I narrowed down the ones to try to XYPlorer, Xplorer2, TC & DOpus.
- XYPlorer (despite Zaine and some others saying good things about it, it doesn't have dual panes - a complete no-no for me). Tabs are fine for web browsers where what's going on in one pane is mostly unrelated to what goes in others, but IMHO a file manager needs pane-potential.
Quickly fell in love with this one, it was familiar coz of the Explorer-like interface and oh-so-functional. X2 is digital kung fu! I have literally been obsessing about it and the neat little tricks you can do with it for the last few days. A tremendously flexible app, sure it's a bit hackerish - you have a separate config utility that you can only run with X2 off(!) and some things have to be edited directly into the registry but I'm not begrudging any of that.
The down side is that it has its little quirks, harmless but annoying little bugs that should be fixed yesterday and I honestly don't know what its future is going to be coz in a recent radio interview the author talked about being bored with programming and dejected that there was a huge learning curve since MS decided to shuffle all the cards with their gorgeous pig, Vista. Can't say I blame him, coz despite their user community contributions he's mainly a one man show in a very tough game.
Anyhoo, I've been hooked onto X2 despite its niggling lack of polish and hadn't really had the time (or much of an inclination) to really delve deep with either DO or TC despite these apps getting most of the applause. But today I got a great opportunity. I have a couple of folders with over a GB of images each, all the pix are in a single folder, no subfolders. Tiny files going into the thousands. I decided to make a few subfolders and dump 100MB of files into each. X2 managed to do this but after a lot of choking - and I was running in list view (no thumbnails, no preview) - so I saw the perfect opportunity to fire up some the neglected power players and see what they were really all about (I remember somebody associating the word 'industrial' with TC in one of the posts here, now that sounded very promising for some digital heavy-lifting!)
The task: open the main source folder in one pane, an empty subfolder in another, both views 'details'. Sort files on date. Select and move 100 MB of pix into the empty folder. Move all these pix back (coz it wouldn't be fair if the source folder contained less data for the next run) & it also lengthened this rather simple task.
Directory Opus: Decidedly impressive! This here is a major CPU guzzler (it peaked the processor at over 80% on my P4, 3.0 GHZ) but then what the hell is processing power for if not for situations like this? It seemed to be making excellent use of every bit of resource it sucked up - the scrolling was _smooth_, it blew me away by loading thumbnails without any fuss in a folder that had 10,000 plus files. The only time it seemed to slow down somewhat was on copying the 100MB back to the source. Strangely enough, even after the operation it held on to a lot of CPU until I minimized it when it freed up almost everything immediately.
Total Commander: After all the hoopla about this baby I felt terribly let down by the results. I know it's got a bazillion plugins and can do "everything" but if you're lagging behind the competition on fundamentals like selecting and moving files, you cannot call yourself the no.1 player. While selecting the files (Shift-PgDn) the refresh was choppy - the move operation could not be classified as 'fast' - it took about 50% CPU though I wish it'd taken more and made some good use of it a la DOpus.
Just for kicks, I wanted to see how my trusty (but much-neglected)n Servant Salamander would fare against these heavies. Ladies and Gents, this here turned out to be the real power-player! The only one whose raw power deserves the term 'industrial'! SS opened and displayed the folder like it contained 10 files, not 10000. The sort was instant, the file selection and status bar indicator was beyond smooth and best of all, the move operation blew-every-other-result-away!, it even left DOpus looking decidedly clunky.
And that, is the point of this crazy long post.. no matter what your primo file manager is, try Servant Salamander! - I ran these tests with v2.0 which has been followed up with a newer one (which has a few more bells and whisles and starts slower, don't know about the rest - draw your own conclusions about which version is the fastest.) It's probably not something you'd use everyday but when there's some serious heavy-lifting to be done, it'll come to the rescue, and how!
I'll probably spend some more time with DOpus before I decide between it and X2 as my everyday file manager, it'll most likely be X2 (did I mention I ADORE it?
As for the lizard, I'm holding on tight. He's not going anywhere!