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Author Topic: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative  (Read 2121 times)

sphere

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Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« on: February 03, 2021, 10:20 PM »
I am looking for a file manager that has as many of these features listed below as possible.  I cannot believe I have been suffering with windows explorer since upgrading to windows 10.   I have listed what I am looking for in order of importance. 

Hoping someone can help me narrow things down as there are so many file managers/ comparison tools.

1) Retains/preserves date created when copying files from one folder to another (important)
2) Allows you to compare files and find duplicates using criteria beyond the file name and file size
3) Can search contents of files (open office, MS Word, text files) when searching
4) Can index and include external hard drives and directories not currently connected to the system.
5) integrated viewer that allowed you to compare the content of files (like scooter software’s  beyond compare)
6) Ability to synchronize files across network
7) Provides the ability to add tags (automatically would be great)
8) Provides a way to make a note on a file ( specifically on audio/video) files
9) has portable version

While I like free and open source, I am not married to "free" 

Looking at Directory Opus, Total Commander, XYplorer, xplorer2, Altap Salamander, Free Commander, Beyond Compare

Shades

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2021, 01:23 AM »
Directory Opus is capable of doing practically anything you ask in your requirements. But is far from free. Or open source.

And why does a file manager have to keep track of indexed files and their content? Database software is designed to do just this. A file manager would become unwieldy quick if it would have to keep track of indexed content. The only thing a file manger needs is an easy way to access the data stored in the index. Tools like Everything are way better/faster at finding files with specific content.

Besides the unwieldiness, how often does this index needs to be updated? On a system where not much happens regarding files, the need of creating/updating a file content index isn't high. On a system where lots of file changes occur, an index would obsolete very quickly. Indexing normally puts quite a strain on your drive. Even SSD's suffer in performance when creating/updating a file content index.

A file manager really isn't the optimum tool to manage indexes.

Directory Opus and Total Commander allow for scripting, so you can create your own options/buttons to have access to indexed content. With the other tools in the set you consider, I'm not sure if scripting is even an option.

Total Commander is also not free or open source. Multi Commander comes quite close in features regarding Directory Opus/Total Commander and is free. Last time I used it, the quirks encountered were enough to make me stop using it. So, it might not be such a great option for you too. Still, its feature-set is really impressive. And it has been at least a year since I tried it last.

** edit **
There used to be a quite usable forum available on that website, but the links are currently mangled. The forum links point to a subdomain that doesn't appear to exist anymore. Manually replacing the subdomain in link: forum.multicommander.com/forum   to   www.multicommander.com/forum    will show the content of the forum, but in a very messy way.

** edit 2 **
Diffing file content is also out of the scope from any file manager. While it may sound logical that a file manager should be able to do diff file content, diffing file content is actually very difficult to do. Sure, very basic text files are not too big of a deal. Although when text files become larger and have the same content, but in different order, it trips even the best Diffing software. Diffing other file types, that usually entails the diff software to convert that file format to a simple text format, before the actual diff occurs. Conversions often end up in content that is in the incorrect order, tripping the actual diff up.

Haven't seen much improvement with this over the years in software like Beyond Compare, ExamDiff Pro or WinMerge (free). And this is dedicated software, made by knowledgeable people for their living. The maintainer(s) from file managers don't have that expertise, so whatever diff capability they mange to add to their file manager, it will be a pretty poor implementation. And you'll likely just go back to the tool you always have been using to do diffs. Resulting in unnecessary cruft inside the file manager.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2021, 01:49 AM by Shades »

tomos

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2021, 02:47 AM »
#2 (comparing files) you don't specify the criteria. Dopus offers a bit comparison

4) Can index and include external hard drives and directories not currently connected to the system.
you don't mean index the contents of the files here, do you?
Same question for #3
Tom

4wd

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2021, 05:54 AM »
Not advocating DOpus one way or the other, (I've used it since my old Amiga days), just answering the various points.

1) DOpus can.
2) DOpus Duplicate Panel - filename with or without extension, size, filename + size, MD5 (with adjustable accuracy)
    CompareEx script
3) DOpus Find Panel
4) DOpus via Everything (SearchEverything: Getting Opus to work with Everything)
5) DOpus can call an external tool to do the job, (External Merge and Compare), I use it with Beyond Compare. EDIT: My mistake, I use Smart Beyond Compare and not External Merge and Compare.
6) DOpus Synchronize Panel (over the network via SMB, FTP, etc) (Advanced FTP functionality costs extra, SFTP, FTP/SSL, FTP/TLS)
7) Add tags automatically from where?  (Add metadata from filename) (Tagger3 script) There's quite a few threads on metadata in the DOpus Resource forum.
8) Pretty much the same as above.
9) DOpus has but it costs extra.

DOpus isn't cheap but you also don't have to update every time a new version comes out.  Major versions are updated every 3 years give or take, IIRC, you're licensed for all minor updates of a major version.

I doubt whether I use even 20% of what DOpus is capable of but I'm comfortable with it and I'm happy to support the developer.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2021, 11:24 PM by 4wd »

wraith808

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2021, 07:43 AM »
I doubt whether I use even 20% of what DOpus is capable of but I'm comfortable with it and I'm happy to support the developer.

Same here.  And I just learned a lot more from your post :D

kunkel321

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2021, 09:14 AM »
Apparently I "collect" file managers, because over the years I've purchased, xplorer2, Total Commander, XYplorer, and DirectoryOpus.  As others have said, DO is probably the most feature-rich.  Personally, my go-to usually falls back to XYplorer.  Do note that, XY is natively portable.   With DO, you can buy a portable version, but it will be tied to a particular usb stick. 

wraith808

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2021, 12:38 PM »
Apparently I "collect" file managers, because over the years I've purchased, xplorer2, Total Commander, XYplorer, and DirectoryOpus.  As others have said, DO is probably the most feature-rich.  Personally, my go-to usually falls back to XYplorer.  Do note that, XY is natively portable.   With DO, you can buy a portable version, but it will be tied to a particular usb stick. 

I have all of those except Total Commander, but I replaced that with Altap Salamander.  I use DO whenever possible on my primary machines, and XYPlorer portable everywhere else.

sphere

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2021, 02:37 PM »
A file manager really isn't the optimum tool to manage indexes.

@shades, thank you.  Everything you say makes sense.  And I certainly want the file manager to be as nimble as possible.  I think my looking for those added features comes from a false impression that I hade developed that, file managers had moved in this direction. Being the all in one tool.

Directory Opus and Total Commander allow for scripting, so you can create your own options/buttons to have access to indexed content. With the other tools in the set you consider, I'm not sure if scripting is even an option.

I almost included scripting in my  list.  I knew that Directory Opus and Total Commander had these functions.  I thought that some of the others on my list did as well. Actually it looks like multicommander has some scripting http://forum.multico...x.php/board,7.0.htmlhttp://forum.multicommander.com/forum/index.php/board,7.0.html

Its features do look impressive.  Thanks for the link to the forum.  That is helpful.  As ana side, there are two different searches on the forum page. Depending on what search you use it asks for a login.

** edit 2 **
Diffing file content is also out of the scope from any file manager. While it may sound logical that a file manager should be able to do diff file content, diffing file content is actually very difficult to do. Sure, very basic text files are not too big of a deal. ..... <snipe>  Haven't seen much improvement with this over the years in software like Beyond Compare, ExamDiff Pro or WinMerge (free). And this is dedicated software, made by knowledgeable people for their living. The maintainer(s) from file managers don't have that expertise, so whatever diff capability they mange to add to their file manager, it will be a pretty poor implementation. And you'll likely just go back to the tool you always have been using to do diffs. Resulting in unnecessary cruft inside the file manager.

Recently I have had to go though alot of files.  The ability to compare and immediately see the differences between files, specifically when they share the same or similar name would be greatly beneficial.   I do not mind  using a different application, but being able to identify the differences in the file manager- before moving would be great.  Being able to move the files for a directory, to later analyze using a file compare application would also work.   This is one reason why preserving the create date is important.  It provides some important information when determining what to do with the file.

sphere

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2021, 02:56 PM »
#2 (comparing files) you don't specify the criteria. Dopus offers a bit comparison

@tomos There are a number of criteria. Most commonly I need to do the following:

A) Find duplicates of a single file across multiple external hard drives.
B) Compare different versions of the same or similar text file, PDF, open office document, Microsoft office document and spreadsheet. This is in order to determine what the most recent version of the file is. In some cases text from previous revisions is needed to be pulled and added to the most recent file. 

4) Can index and include external hard drives and directories not currently connected to the system.
you don't mean index the contents of the files here, do you?
Same question for #3

I actually did mean indexing the contents of the files withing the directory. But I understand that might require another tool. It seems that Windows indexing used to do a far better job than it does currently. Now I'm speaking from operating systems that have long been abandoned.  I think that is one of the reasons why I felt like this was a possibility for third-party file manager.


sphere

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2021, 03:01 PM »

......I have all of those except Total Commander, but I replaced that with Altap Salamander.  I use DO whenever possible on my primary machines, and XYPlorer portable everywhere else.

@wraith thanks... What made you make the move from total Comander to atap salamander

rjbull

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2021, 03:23 PM »
I have the excellent Total Commander; it has a built-in DIFF tool that's good enough for most of my needs nowadays. Back when I needed something significantly more I used ExamDiff Pro, which is very good.  You can trigger it from Total Commander.

I bought my Total Commander license in 1999, I think, and have never been asked to pay for an update.  I also have XYplorer, which is not only portable, but offers a definite lifetime license and is updated so often you feel surprised if you check and find you're already up to date.  It's a second string for me, but has done some useful work.  Thirdly I have ZTreeWin, but for all its virtues, it's more a nostalgia trip now  :)

If by index you mean something like a catalogue, I'd suggest Cathy, which is small, lightning fast and free.  It can search duplicates across catalogues, so should be able to meet your offline requirements (I think).  I don't find the UI as intuitive as all that.  There's also a command-line version for updating catalogues, good to put in your scheduler.

sphere

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2021, 04:07 PM »
Not advocating DOpus one way or the other, (I've used it since my old Amiga days), just answering the various points.
.....
I doubt whether I use even 20% of what DOpus is capable of but I'm comfortable with it and I'm happy to support the developer.
@4wd
thank you very much. I've been going through and exploring the list of plug-ins you have linked to. I have just begun. It certainly looks like it will do everything I need. I'm a little bit hesitant to purchase it as I will be getting a new PC soon. But I see I can get a portable version for $10.

In many regards right now the most important feature I'm looking for is the retain/preserve data creation date when copying files from one folder to another. I need to consolidate files from a number of external hard drives spanning back to 2005.

Thank you again. I'll continue to go through the links

wraith808

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2021, 04:55 PM »

......I have all of those except Total Commander, but I replaced that with Altap Salamander.  I use DO whenever possible on my primary machines, and XYPlorer portable everywhere else.

@wraith thanks... What made you make the move from total Comander to atap salamander


I think I phrased that badly- I meant I used Altap Salamander instead of Total Commander.  I've never used any of the *Commanders.

4wd

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2021, 08:03 PM »
But I see I can get a portable version for $10.

Just to make it clear, the ability to have a portable installation is an extra AU$10 on top of DOpus' initial cost but AFAIAA it is a one time cost, (it carries across major updates without further payment), the same with the Advanced FTP functionality, (basic FTP is included in Pro).  Also, portable installations are priced on an individual basis, eg. if you want it on two USB drives it's 2 x AU$10.

BTW, it's been 4.5 years since DOpus v12 came out ... didn't realise I'd been using it that long.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2021, 08:13 PM by 4wd »

sphere

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2021, 11:15 PM »
@wraith,   Thanks I understand now.

@4wd,  Thanks for the clarification.  When I mentioned getting the portable, I was thinking I would get the standalone, and just hold off installing it  Rely on the portable while waiting to purchase my new system.  I am not totally convinced to go with DO. 

I need to look at the other options.  The most important thing immediately is that I can preserve the creation date when copying between drives.  Would be great to be able to do some more review through the file manger before transferring.

dluby

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2021, 05:23 AM »
I've used DO for years and think it's great but like others I barely use much of the functionality.  It's expensive but worth it.

tomos

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2021, 06:14 AM »
The most important thing immediately is that I can preserve the creation date when copying between drives
I think that with the dates should not be a problem with any half-decent file manager.
With XYplorer, you can trial the portable version (scroll down this page a bit for the link). XYplorer is cheaper than Dopus, and also offers a lifetime license. The regular license includes updates for one year (is not a subscription though).

I dont know can you trial the portable version of Dopus. I preferred Dopus myself for reasons not really relevant here (image handling). It is expensive, but, as 4wd says major (paid) updates dont come around so often.

The link below is not a direct comparision (e.g. some pros or cons of one file manager are not listed on the other, even though they exist there too) but it will give you an idea of each individual manager:
https://www.slant.co...er_vs_directory-opus
Tom

wraith808

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2021, 06:52 AM »
BTW, it's been 4.5 years since DOpus v12 came out ... didn't realise I'd been using it that long.

I keep wondering if I should upgrade- I'm just cautious about the same thing happening as last time.  I upgraded to 11 after holding off for a while, and a little over the time that he gave for free upgrades, 12 came out.  11 works fine, so I just figured I'd wait until the next version came out.

sphere

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2021, 03:21 PM »
So I decided to try out xyplorer because it seems powerful enough and because of the licensing.  My hope is that by using it I will get a baseline to compare. 

One thing that stuck out to me in the comparison was the undo feature.  Being able to undo over 250 file operations :) I hope I never need to test that.

Dormouse

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2021, 05:52 AM »
I upgraded to 11 after holding off for a while, and a little over the time that he gave for free upgrades, 12 came out.  11 works fine, so I just figured I'd wait until the next version came out.
I learned a while ago that the best strategies for me were instant upgrades or skipping versions. Other schedules reduce bangs per buck.
And if you only want to pay when there’s a feature you need, you'll always find cheaper alternatives.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2021, 02:14 PM by Dormouse »

sphere

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Re: Windows Explorer "File manager" Alternative
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2021, 01:33 PM »
Thank you all.   I am making notes of the other options, but  so far I have been pretty happy with Xyplorer. Using the Portable trial, but plan on purchasing it.   Interestingly enough, at first the preserve creation date did not seem to work.  This was after going into preferences and selecting the setting.  It would "appear" to not work when copying many files, but would work fine with selecting an individual file.  I consider this a user interpreting error.

It turns out that when you  select all, copy and then paste a large number of files from one pane to the other, it initially displays the current date. But after the copy process is completed, the creation date is switched/retained in the new file section.   

Leaving this here incase someone else is looking for the same function.

Currently working on copying several TB of files from hard drives.   Will see how it works with comparing and transferring in the coming weeks.