A Very Powerful Freeware File Manager

I recently stumbled upon Altap Salamander. At work, there is a folder with 13000+ sub-folders (don’t ask) I have to work with periodically. Using the built-in Windows file explorer won’t work due to the desktop.ini problem where all you see is a bunch of My Documents folders and not a list of username named folders. I frequently use XYplorer for file operations, however, it would lock-up if I went too deep into the folder structure. At that point, I would usually copy and paste the direct folder path into the native Windows file explorer while RDPed into a server to work around the lock-up issue.

The other issue with the native Windows file explorer is the refreshing view glitch. If Windows file explorer detects any change in the folder list it redraws the folder display view and re-enumerates the folder list starting at folder 1. What a pain!

This is where Altap Salamander comes in to help us. It appears it was a piece of freeware that was created in 1997, then it converted into commercial software and just recently was transitioned back to freeware as of July 2019. You can navigate to any UNC path by going to Commands>Change Directory. This file manager correctly displays and handles folders with large numbers of sub-folders. The software has interesting features including being able to calculate folder sizes,
batch file renamer, advanced file search (including filters on size and date), file type filter view and directory comparison just to name a few. I was able to go to another computer and run it from a remote UNC path, so the program appears to be fully portable and does not require admin installation.

This file manager also lets you see hidden folders that Windows file explorer will hide from you, as I explained in this 2006 blog post and yes, everything I wrote then still holds true today 13 years later (well, kind of, C:\documents and settings is now C:\users, but you get the point)

  • Soli Deo Gloria

2 Replies to “A Very Powerful Freeware File Manager”

  1. Using another file manager is like beginning to eat with sticks instead of your blindly used fork. So every change is really difficult.

    I took a look at the Salamander and found it pretty powerful. It is really worth looking at it. But I will not change from my preferred tool to it, because it seems to be not better than the one I use. It is ZTreeWin (https://www.ztree.com/), which is a follower of the good old XTree Gold which had been seized by Symantec to let it die. Its appearance is a bit strange but focused on function not beauty. And the functionality is absolutely great. I am using ZTreeWin from the beginning on nearly daily, and I still from time to time find useful keystrokes and functions. I think it is necessary to handle big numbers of files, (sort and) rename them, search in them, archive them, graft trees, compare them, handle them over to batch jobs and so on.

    But as I said, it is not easy to change an everyday tool.

  2. My coworker swears by Total Commander.

    I have tried ZTreeWin in the past. It’s a great throwback to XTreeGold. However, those file managers were really designed for the MS-DOS days. Sometimes I run a Powershell console to do things and sometimes I use the GUI. When working with files, I like to have my GUI. For looking at disk space issues: I use Treesize Pro. For file comparison, I use Beyond Compare and/or FreeFileSync.

    It reminds me of a time working back at Best Buy as a computer tech from 1998 to 2000. We had an old timer by the name of Harvey. He would boot to his DOS boot disk to work on computers running Windows 98. I snickered. Sure, it was a bit old fashioned, but Harvey did great work and he got the job done. I don’t care what tools you use, as long as you get the job done, that is what matters.

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