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
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
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
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
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
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
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.