The best freeware file manager: a comparative analysis

File management in Windows (browsing, viewing, copying, deleting files etc) is an area where Windows Explorer is not sufficient for many people.

Explorer lacks several functions such as a tabbed interface and multiple panes for organizing files easily, quick file viewing, sorting folders by folder size, enhanced archive management, multiple file renaming, to name a few.

One of the major shortcomings is Explorer’s tendency to stop ongoing file operations if one of the files is locked or not available because of security settings, which makes it unclear which files where copied and which were not.

There are several freeware file managers that address this gap in Windows’ file management functionality. We looked at 17 of these and found 10 that had many of the advanced features we were looking for. This post will compare the following program across several criteria: CubicExplorerFreeCommander, Master Commander, Nexus File, Nomad.NET, Q-Dir, SE-Explorer, UltraExplorer, Unreal Commander and Xplorer2 Lite.

[Editor’s note: this post was written by Freewaregenius contributor Priit L.]

Window Pane

What are the criteria to evaluate a file manager? What is important? There are as many opinions as there are people. In this article we tried to compare these programs across several criteria that we thought to be important, although at times felt like we had to make a comparison work that was akin to comparing an apple and an orange, which was a hard job. So, we apologize if you feel that your favorite file manager has been unfairly evaluated.

If you would like to simply jump to the overall verdict ratings list, click here.

In this comparison the criteria are:

  • The user interface: it must be simultaneously intuitive, powerful enough and not too cluttered. Tabs and breadcrumbs are modern addition to the interface that can improve usability. We also considered the option to open multiple folders in different tabs and to drag-and-drop files or compare the contents of several folders.
  • File operations: lot of file managers use Windows’ built-in file operations which will stop on encountering the first problem. The best file managers have the ability to pause/resume operations for time-consuming transfers, to display the transfer rate and estimated time to completion. Often they also have enhanced support for skipping/overwriting files, like ‘skip all’/’overwrite all’/’overwrite all older’ etc. If some of the selected files are locked or inaccessible they can be skipped and the copying/moving of other files will be resumed.
  • Additional features: many programs have advanced features that make life easier such as:
    • Multi rename tool – ability to rename multiple files using patterns. Like rename all selected files like ‘IMG_0203.JPG’ to ‘Toms_Birthday_Picture_3.jpg’.
    • Merge/split – Split big files for sending them by e-mail or burning to optical disks and afterwards joining them back again.
    • Show folder size, sort by folder size – allows to sort folders by size of the contents. NB! Use with care, as this can be time-consuming for big folders like ‘WINDOWS’ etc.
    • Copy file name/info as text – also can be used for creating directory listings.
    • ‘Copy To’/’Move To’ buttons – similar function that to some other small ‘gadget’-programs offer.
    • Favorites/Quick Launch/Drop Stack etc – ability to mark several folders You use often or You need to perform some operations.

Also worth mentioning while dealing with Windows file managers is the Norton Commander legacy. Most computer users today may be unaware of the time before Windows when all file operations were carried on the DOS command prompt. Norton Commander (abbreviation NC) was the most popular file manager at the time and the two-paned interface and keyboard shortcuts it introduced are still used on many Windows file managers. We gave points to the programs that can be configured using either Windows Explorer style operation or Norton Commander style operation for the fans of both interfaces. Probably the most popular Norton Commander clone is Total Commander (shareware).

After evaluating 17 freeware programs ten of them were chosen for detailed consideration. In alphabetical order these programs are: CubicExplorer, FreeCommander, Master Commander, Nexus File, Nomad.NET, Q-Dir, SE-Explorer, UltraExplorer, Unreal Commander and Xplorer2 Lite. The following programs were also evaluated but got a lower score than the first seven: a43, AltCommander, ExplorerXP, FileAnt, JExplorer, Pablo Commander and Snowbird.


The Evaluation

The User Interface

In this section the quality and usability of the user interface is evaluated.

#1: CubicExplorer

Windows Explorer style, with tabs, breadcrumb path and quickview/bookmark/filters panel. The toolbars and panels can be customized by dragging.

CubicExplorergeneral1 CubicExplorerpreview

  • Tabs: Yes, multiple tabs can be opened
  • Panes: No NC style multiple panes
  • Favorites: Yes, called Bookmarks. Several bookmarks can be quickly opened in different tabs.
  • Score: 5/5

The interface is simple, modern, intuitive and configurable.

#2: FreeCommander

Norton Commander (NC) clone with tabs. Two panes, NC-like vertical split or horizontal split. Cannot switch to one pane. Select files in Windows Explorer mode or NC mode. NC legacy key shortcuts. Folder sizes can be shown (manual or automatic), folders can be sorted by size. Intuitive quick filtering.

Free CommanderFree Commander - quick-filter

  • Tabs: Yes, multiple tabs can be opened
  • Panes: Yes
  • Favorites: Yes
  • Score: 5/5

Powerful yet simple interface, not too cluttered. Very configurable.

#3: Master Commander

Norton Commander style interface with 2 panes, several tabs can be opened on each pane. Most similar to Total Commander (shareware) by interface and richness of functionality.

Master CommanderMaster Commander - file compare

  • Tabs: Yes
  • Panes: Yes, two panes arranged vertically or horizontally
  • Favorites: Yes
  • Score: 4/5

#4: NexusFile

Interface with two vertical panes, switchable to Windows Explorer style one pane interface. Tabs and breadcrumb paths. Different file/folder selection style – click left to the file name to select, click another time to deselect. Or select by Spacebar.

NexusFileNexusFile - resume-on-error

  • Tabs: Yes
  • Panes: Yes, one or two panes
  • Favorites: Yes
  • Score: 5/5

Intuitive uncluttered interface with ‘breadcrumb’ paths. Support skins, the default one is ‘terminal’ type light text on black background.

#5: Nomad.NET

Windows Explorer style interface with 1 or 2 panels, arranged vertically or horizontally. Breadcrumb style folder path. Folder tree can be shown beside or above the file/folder listing. Quick and advanced filter.

NomadNetWE NomadNetNC

  • Tabs: Yes
  • Panes: Yes. 1 or 2 panes, arranged vertically or horizontally.
  • Favorites: Yes, called Bookmarks
  • Score: 5/5

Nice RunAs function in menu which allows to run the program with command-line options (besides running as different user).
One can select all files or all folders by clicking the number of files/folders on the bottom of the pane.
Type a file name to begin quick filter or quick search.

#6: Q-Dir

Flexible interface with panes and tabs. There are 12 buttons with preconfigurations – from 2 to 4 panes, split vertical and horizontal etc. The big folder tree can be shown/hidden and also there is a button to show tree for each pane. Address bar can be shown as breadcrumb (Extras/Address bar/Modern style).

Q-DirQ-Dir - Explorer-style

  • Tabs: Yes
  • Panes: Yes, easily switched between different configurations
  • Favorites: Yes
  • Score: 5/5

The first start after installation, displaying 4 panes can be a bit frightening but You can switch to a view that has less details.

#7: SE-Explorer

The program has different tabs with different modules. The ‘File Manager’ tab has Norton Commander style two-pane interface and NC style keyboard commands. Select files with ‘Insert’ key, Shift/left-click does not work. (see left screenshot below)

SE-Explorer - File Manager moduleSE-Explorer - File Explorer module

The ‘File Explorer’ tab has Windows Explorer style interface, Windows classical selection by mouse, also Ctrl/Shift keys can be used to change the mouse-click action (see right screenshot above).

  • Tabs: Tabs are only for different program modules, not for folders
  • Panes: Only for different modules
  • Favorites: No
  • Score: 3.5/5

#8: UltraExplorer

Powerful and configurable Windows Explorer like interface with tabs and optional second pane. Breadcrumb paths and Mac style ‘Column view’ folders available.

Folder size calculation by clicking appropriate button or automatically (configurable). ‘Flatten folder’ view to see all files in the subfolders.

UltraExplorer - with viewerUltraExplorer - NC-style

  • Tabs: Yes
  • Panes: Yes
  • Favorites: Yes
  • Score: 5/5

#9: Unreal Commander

Norton Commander style interface with two vertical or horizontal panes. Simple, not cluttered, configurable.

UnrealCommandergeneral UnrealCommanderquickview

  • Tabs: Yes
  • Panes: Yes, two vertical or horizontal panes
  • Favorites: Yes, named Hotlist
  • Score: 5/5

Cannot display folder tree in any form?

#10: xplorer2 lite

Single or dual pane interface, divided vertically or horizontally. Windows style file selection. Many useful functions but many more are only available in the commercial version.

xplorer2

  • Tabs: Yes. By default Excel style tabs on the bottom of a pane but this can be configured.
  • Panes: Yes, one or two, vertical or horizontal split.
  • Favorites: Yes, called Bookmarks
  • Score: 5/5

Simple uncluttered interface, well configurable. Unfortunately, so many useful functions are disabled in the free version.


File operations

In this section we evaluate how the file managers perform file operations like copying, moving and deleting. The problem with Windows Explorer is that it stops the operation when one of the files is locked or unavailable and you never know which files were successfully copied and which ones were not. In worst cases it will result in the loss of files when the user thinks that the files are copied when actually they were not. The best file managers have their own custom built file handling with ‘resume on error’ and ‘pause/resume’ support.

[table id=21 /]


Archiving/file compression

Most of the advanced file managers have built-in packers that allow to treat archive files like folders, copy/drag-drop files out of the archive, modify the contents of an archive file etc.

[table id=23 /]


FTP

Most of the evaluated file managers have ability to work with FTP servers – list files and folders, download and upload files. Once it was considered very important functionality, but now FTP usage in general has been decreased and many programs have their own FTP clients like webpage creators, image managers etc.

[table id=22 /]


File viewers

An important feature for a file manager is the ability to view the contents of different files like text, image and video. The best file managers can open the files and also preview the contents inside the interface, without opening another programs.

[table id=24/]

Quick view in UltraExplorer UltraExplorer-general-viewer Quick view in xplorer2 lite xplorer2-preview2 Thumbnail/hint view in Nomad.NET
Nomad-Net-WE

Portability

Portable versions can be used on removable media like USB flash drives, without needing to install the program to all the computers You would like to use it. This option is especially handy for people who like to use their favorite tool on several computers.

  • All except Unreal Commander provide portable and installer versions. Unreal Commander can be made portable and prepared portable version can also be found on portable programs websites.

NOTE! Master Commander, Nomad.NET and SE-Explorer require Microsoft .NET Framework to be installed. You must install .NET Framework before You can use these program from the removable media. This is making the portable use of these programs more inconvenient.


Interesting features:

Some of the evaluated programs had special features worth mentioning:

#1: CubicExplorer

  • Dropstack, used for holding a set of file shortcuts to work with later

#2: FreeCommander

  • Wipe File option.
  • Split/Join files.

Master Commander - processes and modules#3: Master Commander

  • Wipe file function.
  • Create ISO.
  • Split/Join files.
  • Digital signature, checksum, code page conversion functions.
  • Process viewer

#4: NexusFile

  • WhatIsThisFile function – opens http://ext.xiles.net for the selected file type
  • CreateShorcutOnDesktop/CreateShorcutOnQuickLaunch functions

#5: Nomad.NET

  • Powerful search (also by attributes, for example picture taken date, file owner, document author, MP3 album name etc.), find duplicate files
  • Copy file details like size etc. to clipboard for directory listing.

#6: Q-Dir

  • Export function to create directory listing in TXT, CSV, HTML, XLS or DOC format.
  • Screen magnifier.

SE-Explorer - folder-size#7: SE-Explorer

  • Disk/folder/file size scan, with top largest files output etc.
  • Resource view (like icons contained in EXE and DLL files).
  • Search files function by resources contained in them.
  • DLL inspector.
  • Text file compare, showing differences in files line-by-line.

UltraExplorer - Mac-style#8: UltraExplorer

  • Mac style ‘Column mode’ view with folders in columns and current file info on the last column.
  • ‘Flatten folder’ view to see all files in the subfolders
  • A “file basket” where users can virtually ‘park’ items to perform operations on later.

#9: Unreal Commander

  • Compare files (binary and text)
  • Wipe files

#10: xplorer2 lite

  • File shredder

Strengths and weaknesses, summary

As the previous chapter shows, different programs have different emphasis. Some of the file managers with good interface lack even essential functionality. Some of them do not have very flexible and usable interface but a lot of extra features. In this chapter we bring out the positive and negative of all the evaluated programs.

[table id=25 /]

Two programs receive a perfect overall score 5/5 *** Editor’s choice! ***: Master Commander and Unreal Commander.


Word of conclusion

The best in this comparison – Unreal Commander and Master Commander – appeared to be from the Norton/Total Commander legacy. However, picking the best Windows Explorer style file manager from these ten is harder to do. Q-Dir and UltraExplorer both have some major drawbacks: Q-Dir lacks functionality like a powerful viewer, directory comparisons etc, and UltraExplorer has no custom file handling with ‘resume on error’ and ‘pause/resume’ support. Ultimately, I would choose Nomad.NET as the strongest candidate for the ‘Best Windows Explorer style file manager’ title. The strengths are uncluttered powerful interface and enhanced file handling. The weaknesses are missing built-in viewer and .NET Framework requirement that reduces portability.

Again, probably some of you, friends, may disagree with some scores and the weights of the evaluation criteria. Some criteria like ‘intuitiveness’ and ‘clutter’ are very individual and can absolutely not be evaluated without being subjective. Also the emphasis on the need for custom enhanced file operations with ‘resume on error’ and ‘pause/resume’ support can be argued. You could argue that one can use programs like SuperCopier or TeraCopy to enhance the file operations. Similarly one can install other gadgets giving functionality of CopyTo, MoveTo, ‘create folder listing’, ‘Pack to archive’, ‘Extract …’ etc to the right-click. The problem with this solution is that You install several different system utilities from several different creators and each one is potential source of errors and system instability. The more elegant (and secure) option is to have one file manager from one creator that provides all this functionality as one entity. And after all – file manager is to manage files and proper file handling should be essential part of a file manager.


 
 
 
Free Opener: opens and views any type of file
Noteworthy Shareware turned Freeware - May 2011
Priit

Priit

Estonia's 2nd most famous export after Skype. Writes for Freewaregenius when he's not trekking the world and visiting exotic locations such as Nepal, Sinai, and Jordan.
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  • Toni

    Thanks for this extensive and very handy comparision!

  • Alex

    I have been using Xplorer2 Lite for a long time and have discovered useful functions I can run Xplorer 2 Lite with admin privileges (Run as…) and I every application I launch from it will have admin privileges too. You also have the ability to launch apps from the address bar by typing “> notepad”, you can launch notepad, just like the “Run…” function from the Start button.

    One question. I like Total Comander because of it built-in file syncronizer. Do you know if any of this apps have that functionality.

    Also, thanks for the great articles. Let me know if you need any help with new articles. I may be of help.

  • chris

    Thanks for the article. I am looking for a program or method in windows to select all folders containing a certain type of file, or not containing a certain type of file. Anyone seen this done? Also i use explorerxp, which i highly recommend. To get it to work with vista and windows 7 you should disable visual themes for it, by right clicking on its shortcut and clicking compatibility .

  • http://xbeta.info xbeta(????)

    Glad to see such a useful review. I’d like to ask your permission for translating it into Chinese and post on my blog, http://xbeta.info, which is also an volunteer freeware promotion blog.

  • http://xbeta.info xbeta

    considering similar to TC, you should check this file manager: Unreal Commander.

  • jim

    great comparison!! nicely done & thank you

  • http://bostwickenator.org Bostwickenator

    Pity they all look like ass.

  • Agradecido

    Thank you for the useful article, I always looking for something like this, where most of the programs were faced.
    congrats!!

  • wangxy

    I can vouch for xbeta, which is a highly-respected website in China promoting the legal use of freeware and commercial software.

    This is undoubtedly another awesome article from freewaregenius. I do have one tiny comment though. FreeCommander can be improved in terms of its file operations by substituting the default with specific application like TeraCopy. IIRC, the instructions can be found in FreeCommander’s online documentation.

  • http://versatile1.wordpress.com Versatile

    I still love Qdir. It’s free, portable, small, light weight, and I love the 4 window pane!!!! When I am cleaning up files on an external hard drive, it is so convenient to have 4 panes open. Forget the 2 pane split option.

  • nsaxiom

    Unreal Commander
    Nomad.NET

  • dedup

    the only one that i didn’t know (Master commander) seems to be the best ! I try it immediately, thanks

  • argh

    And there is also Proto wich is unlike any other FM -> http://miechu.pl/proto

  • dedup

    the only one i didnt know off in the list was Master Commander. I tried it and it looks great however i have an error message when i try to open the font section of the option menu and the application crash when i click cancel (its about some regular version of some font type)

  • Priit

    Thanks for the feedback, folks! We will try to answer You one by one!

    @ Alex: In the following programs I found the folder synchronisation built in:
    FreeCommander – Folder/Synchronize
    Master Commander – Directory/Synchronize
    From other free sync tools MS Synctoy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SyncToy reminds me first, but for sure there are others.
    @ chris: Right now I could not find any solution to find folders containing certain type of files. The analysis of the folders where certain types of files do not exist would be quite complex.

  • marcelo silva

    Free Commander has a split/join funcionality, too.

  • http://www.portablefreeware.com webfork

    I’ve been waiting for someone to do an article like this for a while — thanks.

    For those of your visitors that are interested in an open source file manager, I’d also like to point to muCommander (www.mucommander.com). Its very stable (I’ve had FreeCommander crash on me on a number of occasions) and includes permissions management (more critical for on non-Windows machines).

    Good:
    * Supports way more than just FTP (SFTP, SMB, NFS, HTTP, Amazon S3, Hadoop HDFS and Bonjour).
    * Browse can browse, create, and decompress a variety of archive formats
    * Open Source (GPL)
    * Cross Platform (Mac, Linux)
    * Portable

    Bad:
    * No search tool
    * No tabbed interface
    * Missing a lot of the features of other programs (File Wipe, Split/Join, etc)
    * Not a lot of customization, a few themes and basic views
    * Requires Java

  • EdSr

    Used Q-Dir quite a bit. The 4 panes are very useful if you have say, document in both “my files” and “User/documents” or different download locations (if you use a different browser or download manager) and want to drag files from these locations to a single location.
    Had not heard of Master Commander, must have been at the far side of the world, but will give it a try, thanks for reviewing these file managers, very useful and welcome.

  • Toxteth

    I’ve been using xplorer2 for a long time and think it’s great. I also use Teracopy, which might overcome the issue of xplorer2 using Windows file operations.

  • http://dan.hersam.com/ dan

    I agree with wangxy. Testing only built-in features does a great disservice to FreeCommander because it’s so extensible. You can plug in custom applications (and assign them shortcuts), passing them the selected files as a command line parameter. With FreeCommander I use 7zip for compression tasks, Universal Extractor, TeraCopy for copying/moving files, Notepad++ for editing, Universal Viewer for viewing file formats

    And even if you’re only considering built-in features, it has many more that weren’t mentioned. The only interesting feature is wipe file? Try:

    * Recursive search – file names and/or contents (and it’s fast)
    * Split files
    * Multiple file renamer
    * Create and verify file checksums
    * Customizable keyboard shortcuts for nearly everything
    * Favorite folders (with keyboard shortcuts)
    * Synchronize folders
    * Flattening of folder trees
    * Folder sizes (not just files)
    * Print list of files or folders
    * Desktop snapshot
    * Folder history
    * Thumbnail view
    …the list goes on

    I appreciate that you spent the time to write this post. I’m sure it took a lot of time, but FreeCommander didn’t get a fair trial. I’ve used every single one of the others that were mentioned in the post and comments so far, and FreeCommander stands head and shoulders above them. I’ve been meaning to put together a screencast detailing all of FreeCommander’s features for a year or more, but there’s so many features, it’s daunting (which is a good thing :)

    And in response to webfork, I use it off and on 8-10 hours every day and I can’t remember the last time it crashed. I did have a few crashes early on, but the latest version is rock solid.

  • Narayana

    Xplorer2lite has a mirror/synchronised browsing ooption. Which others have this very useful functionality?

  • ragundo

    Don’t forget CubicExplorer
    http://www.cubicreality.com/ce/
    This is the one I prefer

  • Siro

    I think that after a long and intensive use, NexusFile comes on top.
    It’s the only manager I haven’t had an urge to replace after a couple of days.
    It’s incredibly fast – usually comes up much faster than windows explorer.
    It has auto-extract (though other archive function is buggy) and can split/join files and alot of other usefulness.

  • Chris

    And another to add to the mix, Windows Double Explorer.

    http://wde.codeplex.com/

  • http://www.insomnia.gr Alex

    you should give a look at Nomad.NET
    http://www.nomad-net.info/

  • Marton

    You forgot the most important one: Far Manager! From version 1.75, it is free and open source!
    Here: http://forum.farmanager.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=4409 the user cyberwolf highlighted SOME of its numerous features. It is ‘Far’ better than Total Commander, and can take use of its .wcx plugins if needed.
    http://www.farmanager.com

  • Snakebite

    Just loved the way the article is written. Amazing way to present. Kudos.

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  • Jim

    While all of the comments I have read are valid there is one feature in Free Commander (and PowerDesk 6 free version, for that matter) that I think may have been overlooked. Free Commander and PowerDesk 6 allows the user to create shortcuts to programs that may be launched from a toolbar within either manager. For me, this is a very nice feature that I just all the time.

    • Samer

      Update: 6/9/2011
      We re-wrote this post to accommodate 2 of the file managers mentioned in the comments that were not in the original article.
      Unreal Commander / received a 5/5 and and Editor’s Pick
      Nomad .NET got 4.5 as well, and is highly recommended.

  • Priit

    Hey!
    @ nsaxiom: Thanks, Unreal Commander and Nomad.NET proved to be good choices!
    @ dan: I agree that Free Commander is a good file manager. Unfortunately it lacks good file handling and You need to add some other software to get it to the the same level with other ‘commanders’ evaluated here. Personally I like one file manager doing it all what concerns file management. Additional things to install like TeraCopy or .NET also reduce the portability (in terms of portability Unreal Commander is better than Master Commander).

  • Marton

    Thanks for the update, Samer. Have you checked Far Manager? (Posted about it on 5/Jun). Here’s a (very) brief video review: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xec6ds_far-manager-software-review_tech
    I think you should try it to consider it for the list, and while at it, you should browse its plugins repository. The possibilities are endless. http://plugring.farmanager.com/

  • http://rezny.net PavelR

    I vote for FAR Manager too – better than any other xxx Commander for keyboard users.

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  • daniel

    try also doublecommander = a good total commander clone and free.

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  • nsaxiom

    I’m glad you took my advice and looked at Unreal Commander and Nomad.NET.

    I have one more piece of advice – Look at AC Browser Plus Free Edition.

    Give it some time, figure out it’s features. Truly incredible.

    Each file manager has it’s own personality.

    Thanks so much for this great article.

  • Berg

    Very nice article. A few there I had not encountered before but after trying a few again I think i will stick with free commander still.

    I think its worth pointing out which managers are 32bit or 64bit.
    On a 64bit OS with shell extensions a 32bit manager can be annoying.

    Also I find a proper date sort that will arrange all files and folders in date order is important (and not separating out the folders), I believe only Free Commander does that.

    An indication if the manager queue’s operations for linear execution is worth knowing.
    I know non-free total commander does that fairly well, and non-free xplorer^2 does it though not as well total commander.

    I have been using free commander with teracopy to get this behaviour though it is not a great solution its sufficient for now.

  • Julia Fox

    Superb article. I’m new to this site and this is the best and most comprehensive comparison of freeware that I can recall ever having seen. Thanks for your really helpful advice.

  • http://dan.hersam.com/ dan

    @Priit That’s where we differ then. I use the best tool for the job, not one tool that pretends to be the best at everything. For instance, TeraCopy has spent years fine-tuning their software and are experts in their field. Few, if any, file managers come close to TeraCopy’s performance and reliability. FreeCommander has reasonable functionality built in, but lets you leverage TeraCopy as if it were built-in. Once you understand that mindset, you’ll see its power. If or when I find a better solution, I can easily swap out TeraCopy.

    And regarding portability, I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but it’s completely portable, running entirely from my Dropbox folder (along with the additional tools like TeraCopy).

  • Doug A

    I’m a long time user of Xplorer2 (paid version) and recently tried to switch to XYplorer (not free) but found myself coming back to xplorer2. I found a few instability issues with XYplorer (nothing major), but I think I’m just too used to how xplorer2 works. I think that is the case with most of these tools, you end up liking the one that works “the way you do”. Given this, I have to agree that tying to use the free version of xplorer2 is aggravating; the paid version is so much better. I’ll be checking out some of the above to use on my 2ndary systems! Thanks for the great review.

  • http://youteck.com friv

    Hey Folks … Good Job !
    Is there anyway I can link this page to my Facebook post. It would be nice to share this info. with my friends. Do Let me know …! Thanks again.

  • Loukas

    One popular file manager for Windows, namely Multi Commander, has recently changed from a shareware model to freeware. The registration fee, of up to 26 euros (around $30) has been dropped, and you can download the full program from http://www.multicommander.com

  • http://www.mahalasoft.co.za Mpumelelo Msimanga

    It has taken me some time to try out the different options presented in the article and the comments. I came back to report that my tool of choice is NexusFile. On installation it is not the most visually pleasing, it looks suspect. I was soon able to change the colour settings and have it look “normal”.

    I like it for it’s speed. It is fast and the navigation bar at the top makes it easy to switch between folders. It is so quick to navigate that I don’t need any short cuts/favourites.

    • Samer

      @ Mpumelelo: thanks for sharing your experience. I always kind of liked NexusFile, but I like some of the others better.

      @ Loukas: I’ve seen MultiCommander and would like to add it to this article in the next update.

  • http://xahoi.com.vn xa hoi

    I think that after a long and intensive use

  • Tom

    I always wonder why, whenever FreeCommander is being reviewed, people absolutely neglect to mention its _folder synchronization_ functionality, which beats out almost any of the competition in that particular field. It is the sole reason I use the program. I have dropped solutions like syncit or synctoy because FC works better.

    Cheers,
    Tom

  • http://www.nurseanesthetistschoolsus.com Nurse Anesthetist Schools

    Thanks for the article. I am looking for a program or method in windows to select all folders containing a certain type of file, or not containing a certain type of file. Anyone seen this done? Also i use explorerxp, which i highly recommend. To get it to work with vista and windows 7 you should disable visual themes for it, by right clicking on its shortcut and clicking compatibility .

  • Erik

    What about Altap Salamander?

    I’ve been using for several years and as far as I can tell it can do all of the above and then some and it has all kinds of possibilities that none of the above seems to have.I can really really recommend it.

  • DiggerP

    Thanks for this great list and also thanks to the commenters who added some very useful suggestions.

    However, @Erik mentioning Altap Salamander, this is not freeware.
    The title of this article is : “The best freeware file manager: a comparative analysis ” :)

  • Morgan

    Awesome article as usual. Thanks!
    Just a note – some of the tables in the article are not rendering right now. I am seeing “[table id=21 /]” under every section after UI.

  • Axel

    May be a false alarm, but recently Kaspersky 2012 detected a Hupigon.qf ?? backdoor in the uninstall program of master commander. IIRC I got it off the author’s website. Be that as it may, this needs to be addressed if it is a false positive. It is MC 0.8.10 downloaded October 13th 2011. If you would be so kind as to refer this to the author?

    Thanks.

  • Samer

    @ Morgan: thanks for the tip. I fixed the tables.

    @ Axel: I am quite confident that it is a false positive. I just uploaded the latest version of the program to Virustotal and it has an excellent VT profile (3/43 flag as suspicious); http://bit.ly/zsNGta.

  • http://www.kiatchai.com KCdiary

    I like Unreal Commande.

  • http://www.kiatchai.com KCdiary

    I like Unreal Commande.

  • Dimension X

    Amazing post. Wow, how long did you work on this one?

  • eric sutton

    I looked at all these and more,the only one that works is wxCommander see http://www.wxcommander.com/.The interface seems weird when you load it but you can configure it. It will handle zip type files,has a text viewer/editor,and a photo viewer.The delete is better than widows,you can delete it to the recyle bin or erase it!!
    You can even eject a usb stick or a dvd !!
    magic

  • http://www.emiertips.info/ Cakemier

    You posted very complete, I can compare them without opening several post, that’s great

  • Frederick

    Thanks for very detailed review ! Another good one is Multi Commander http://multicommander.com/screenshots with most of the above and a nice interface.

  • http://www.file-utilities.com binaryman

    Great article – I have never seen an article with so much detail

    You should review Directory Report
    http://www.file-utilities.com
    It has many useful functions:
    Show 2 folder sizes: size of this directory only, size include subdirectories
    Can sort by directory size
    Multiple file renaming
    Directory compare/synchronization
    Find duplicate files/directories
    Can produce many reports in many formats

    • steve

      binaryman-
      it’s great that you’re trying to promote your program-but at $25, it’s not freeware ( as in “Freeware Genius” ). Forgive me if I overlooked something, but I saw
      no “freeware” version of your program.

  • eyecantw8

    I keep coming back to Turbo Navigator

  • trilobyte

    I agree with Frederick. Multi Commander is extensible, very fast and has a portable version. Both 32 and 64 bit implementations. Certainly worth checking out since it’s also free like every file manager mentioned in this great article.

  • DT_br

    I, too, encountered problems with uninstall of this program – Comodo firewall blocked it as a malware program! Because of this it was complicated to remove after testing. If this was identified in January as a problem and is still creating problems in September (when I installed it) then I’m not interested.