Swiss Army PC Utility

File Management on Steroids

I remember getting a fat Swiss Army knife when I was a boy. My knife seemed magical. Just when I thought I knew all of its tools, I'd slip my thumbnail into one of its notches and flip out a new tool I hadn't seen. Some of the tools I never used -like the 5mm hex socket or the #0 posidrive bit, but I was thrilled to have them anyway. When I carried my Swiss Army knife in my pocket, I knew I was fully loaded and ready for anything. That knife sure was a fantastic utility.

When I think of utilities for my PC, I think of small programs designed to help the computer do a specific task, like measure speed, backup or rename files or anything related to managing my computer's resources. Thousands of utilities are on web sites like download.com and are useful in accomplishing almost any task for your computer. Many of these utilities are shareware, meaning you can download them to "try before you buy."

Once in a while a piece of software comes along whose many useful features (all folded into a small program) amaze me just like a brand new, shiny, fat Swiss Army knife amazes an eight year old child.

If I had to name one piece of software as the Swiss Army Knife of the PC it would be Total Commander, by Christian Ghisler (ghisler.com). This shareware file utility is actually a bundle of many useful utilities all rolled into one.

For example, it can compare the file names from two different folders and then synchronize the folders -if you wish. It can rename one or a batch of files. It can compare the contents of two files. It can create zip files. It can help you search for files, split files, combine files. It has a built in FTP program for transferring files too large for email or for uploading files to a web site. It can help you create network connections with other computers and share your computer's folders on your network. The list goes on and on.

One of my favorite, simple uses of Total Commander is in copying multiple files and folders from one location to another (to a backup drive, for example). The built in copy and paste feature of Windows will end on any file that causes an error, leaving the remaining, uncopied files for me to find and copy again. If I use Total Commander for the same task, it prompts me with an opportunity to "skip," the problematic file and copying continues, saving a tremendous amount of time.

The trial version of Total Commander is fully functional and free with only a nag prompt to register it for $34. Knowing that Christian Ghisler has put a lot of work into this program and estimating the hours of time it has saved me, I was happy to register my copy which resulted in a gracious thank you note from Christian. If you try it and enjoy it, I encourage you to do the same.

I may never use the Total Commander's "Create Checksums" feature. I'll leave that tool folded into my Total Commander knife. But it feels good to have it -just in case.

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