Dealing with your data is a critical part of the Windows experience. "No, really," you ask? I know, I know. But the kinds of file operations you perform on any given day represent the bread and butter of your operating system. You drag your pictures around, copy and paste your documents to other places, maybe send a file or two over email. It's simple stuff. That's not a value judgment, just a comment about the basic functionality that everyone uses on a modern OS.
When you're ready to step out of this minor league of file management and head into the majors, you'll find a host of freeware applications waiting to hit a pitch or two. These applications take the common elements of your Windows file operations and inject them with a dose of raw energy. For example, you can customize and jack up the very process of copying files from one directory to another. You can also beat back Windows' default system for batch file renaming and instead transform a large number of files with very specific titles and extensions. You can even map out just how much space your files take up on your drive, giving you the perfect opportunity to catch up on some spring cleaning across your battered hard drive.
While these kinds of processes are a mainstay of this week's roundup, I'm also taking a look at two additional programs that pack additional functionality into your operating system as a whole. So what are you waiting for? Quit your file transfers and get ready for a brand new world.
What it does: Copying files is a simple process, right? What if you're copying a ton of files across PCs and your network connection has a hiccup? What if you want to keep a specific set of attributes on a duplicated set files identical to the originals? What if you have a folder full of all sorts of files, but only want to copy those with specific file names or extensions? RichCopy eases your life in these ways, and more, by offering you the chance to customize the copying process with more parameters than you'll ever find in the good ol' Windows drag-and-drop mechanism. And the best part? RichCopy was actually developed by Microsoft's Ken Tamaru.
What it does: Saves your butt. No, really. Did you frak up and accidentally shift-delete a bunch of files you were working on? Try to recover them using this freeware collection of DIY "save thyself" tools. Not only can you possibly recover files you've deleted, but the program also comes with tools to rip the contents of a dying hard drive, as well as backup options akin to a Norton Ghost drive clone. I recommend you check out the latter instead of having to resort to the former to save your missing stuff!
What it does: There are a number of graphical utilities for determining what's taking up all the space on your hard drive. So what makes SpaceSniffer unique? For starters, the program is an executable--slap this freeware file on a flash drive and carry it around to any PC you use. The intuitive, graphical view of your drive's contents teams up with powerful filtering functionality to allow you to conduct comprehensive analyses based on inputs you specify. See how much of your movie collection needs to hit the recycle bin and refine this search process to dig down into the nuances of your file archives even further! SpaceSniffer gives you a lot of options to work with.
What it does: Right-click on a batch of selected files in Windows, hit rename, and the OS will automatically append whatever name you create to the files you picked--automatically adding an ugly (1), (2), (3), et cetera, to the end of said files. Yuck. The freeware application ReNamer rips apart this sad scheme and grants you the ability to mass-rename files in a number of customizable ways. For example, you can change the cases of letters to anything you specify, develop rules for serializing the numbers that get appended to your files, and conduct find-and-replace operations for any part of the file name you want to change. When I say that the sky is the limit with ReNamer, I'm serious: this is the Up of helpful freeware applications.
What it does: This one isn't exactly file-related per se, however, the System Information for Windows application still gives you a ton of information about your PC as a whole. From substantial hardware and software inventory analyses, to built-in realtime monitors for your system's resources, to a fairly thorough suite of network tools, SIW is the kitchen sink of information utilities. It gives the default Windows task manager quite a workout. Best of all, this app doesn't require an installation at all--slap this on a flash drive and you'll be able to fire up a wealth of information about connected PCs with one quick double-click of the mouse. Time saved: limitless.