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  Hold No Punches...  by Rode


PowerDesk 4.0
Windows 95/ 98/ NT4/ 2000
Download - 1.10 MB

Windows 95 Explorer was a great upgrade from Windows 3.11 Program Manager but it still left a lot to be desired as far as hard core Windows Power Users were concerned. There are many explorer enhancements available on the software market but my favorite is PowerDesk by Ontrack. PowerDesk comes in two flavors. The full version PowerDesk and a stripped down PowerDesk Freeware version. The Freeware version has a title bar on the bottom and very occasionally a logo screen pops up on your screen when you close PowerDesk. 

PowerDesk allows you to run it as a stand alone program, or as a front end for Explorer, and it is as easy as a mouse click in PowerDesk preferences to go back and forth. When you first load PowerDesk  you see something like this.

 



This is a dual pane view which is like two Explorer screens side by side. A two pane view makes it very easy to manage files, particularly between two computers on a network. Just click an Icon or a View menu selection to switch between a single pane and a vertical or horizontal dual pane view. PowerDesk  allows you to sort and view your files in any way you can imagine. It also zips and unzips just about any format  zip... arj... rar... arc... tar..  and more! It does all this right in explorer view. You can also have PowerDesk present these files to you as if they were unzipped in directories. 

PowerDesk also decodes and encrypts files and directories. If you live in the United States you can fill out a government form stating that you will not export encryption technology and obtain a upgrade to DES encryption. For more information about DES check on the Ontrack web site.

PowerDesk will also delete files in a way that they can never be recovered. Normally when you press delete, the file(s) go into the recycle bin, but if you hold shift down before you press delete the file(s) will not go to the recycle bin. When you delete a file without sending it to the recycle bin, or you clean out your recycle bin, the operating system removes the first few bits of information at the beginning of the file. The rest of it remains there until you either over write it, or wipe your hard drive, either of which might not occur for a long time. With the right software you can still recover those deleted files. This may not be a good thing if they contain sensitive information. However, if you use the Destroy feature of PowerDesk the file is gone forever. 

PowerDesk can either be run as a stand alone program in addition to Windows Explorer, or as a replacement for Explorer. A click of the mouse in preferences allow you specify if you want to replace explorer, so that when you normally open my computer PowerDesk will load instead. The reason I prefer PowerDesk to other desktop replacements is that if feels and works just like explorer. There is not much of a learning curve. But PowerDesk is like Explorer on steroids.

PowerDesk is completely configurable with none of the bugs or headaches that newer versions of Explorer exhibit. You can see in the picture that there are three bars under the menu. The fist is an icon bar to access commands quickly. The second is a drive bar to access your drives quickly, and a third is a quick launch bar that you can just drag a program file to and create a shortcut to launch from. The Favorites Menu allows you to quickly go to folders that you have specified, which is a real time saver. Updating PowerDesk is as easy as selecting Help ... Easy Update when you're on line. 

If you consider yourself a serious Windows Power User then the freeware version may not be enough for you. For an extremely reasonable $19.95 U.S. dollars, you will get a host of new features including a viewer that supports over 200 file types. The freeware version only supports what Windows Quickview supports. The viewer that comes with PowerDesk Pro is also cable of converting from one graphic format to any of 30 others. It will also do large batch conversions of image files.

One of my favorite features of  PowerDesk Pro is a very sophisticated Folder Synchronizer that will perform folder and sub folder synchronizing the way you have set it up to do so, with a history drop down list for easy repetition at a later time.

Size Manager is a tool much like Treesize Pro which will show you how much hard drive space you are using and where you are using it. Size Manger will also print a folder (directory) list.


PowerDesk Pro also comes with Coolbar. This is a floating bar full of the utilities you have configured to run in it. For example, a CPU monitor, printer manager, QuickLaunch, Multi desktop View, and a number of plug ins like Calendar or clocks. There are as many different ways to set up Coolbar as your imagination can come up with. This is the one feature I don't use because it takes up too much screen real estate for my needs.

New to PowerDesk Pro is a FTP program that works directly within PowerDesk. It logs on to an FTP site and allows you to upload, download and manage files as if you were working in explorer. This can be pretty handy if you routinely work on a particular FTP site like I do on the NOSPIN site. However for serious FTP work I prefer a dedicated FTP program like FTP Explorer.

I have found that some of the interfaces of the PowerDesk utilities aren't all that intuitive and they take a bit of getting use to. I had a problem at first, using the encryption and the extraction utilities. I wish the Find feature didn't pre-scan before you input the search criteria because you have to wait for it to scan all files underneath your folder selection, which can take a bit of time. I would also like to see a three pain view for those of us with large monitors.

Ontrack does not provide technical support for the PowerDesk freeware program other then online documentation, and an excellent help file. However, for PowerDesk Pro Ontrack provides you with one year free technical support, and a sixty day no questions asked money back guarantee. It doesn't get any fairer then this!

I have been a registered user of Powerdesk Pro for 4 or 5 years. I have run it in Windows 95,98, NT4, and 2000 and I wouldn't want to have to work with out it.

 

Rode

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