As a person whose PC is his primary companion, I am well versed with the pain involved in performing the most basic tasks on a Windows machine. It is third party apps that makes the relationship manageable. Windows comes with more tools than you’ll ever need but very few of them are optimized for the task at hand. Take, for example, Windows’ default file copy handler which is terrible in every way. So, there is wisdom in seeking out third-party apps — available in, literally, the thousands — which can save you a lot of time. Here is a list of four basic apps that I use frequently in no particular order. They are available for free. If you aren’t using them, get them now!
If you are tired of the slow and unreliable Search function that comes with Explorer — who isn’t? — it’s time to get Everything. Because Everything is awesome. Forgive that tangent! Everything is a small utility that makes searching for files a snap. This is especially useful if you have a chaotic high capacity drive. It indexes the all files in a database document and spits out the results as you type with zero lag. This app is how you make the lightning fast searches you’ve always wanted to make on the awfully slow hard drive you’ve always had.
Launchy allows you to launch any program with just a few keystrokes. You can get rid of all those shortcuts cluttering your desktop. Generally, you’d want Launchy to store the executable files (those with the extension .exe) from the Program Files folder located in the system partition although it can store pretty much anything from any specified folder — a neat feature if you have portable programs. You can even perform basic calculations by enabling the Calcy plugin.
Use Alt+Spacebar hotkey to bring up the app and even before you’ve finished typing the name of the program, Launchy will bring it up. (If you use Alt+Spacebar for minimising/restoring/closing windows, it’s high time to switch to Win+Up arrow/Win+Down arrow)
If there is one advice about using Explorer’s copy handler, it’s don’t. It is slow, it can’t queue files and it’s handling of multiple transfers is unreliable. Use anything else. Of course, using a third party app is not going to give you blazing fast transfer speeds. Speed is determind by your hardware. What you do get is tons of useful functionality.
TeraCopy in just one of the many many great options. Its UI is slick and minimalistic — a treat for sore eyes. It can handle as many simultaneous transfers as you need. It allows to you to pause the transfer if you notice a bottleneck and skip files if there are errors. The paid version even allows you to remove files already added to the queue.
Accidental deletions are a common occurrence. And if you’re used to Shift+Delete, even the Recycle Bin becomes useless. Often, you’ll have SD cards and Flash drives with files erroneously deleted. The great news is that the files aren’t actually lost and it is easy to recover them provided you haven’t overwritten them.
Recuva is a small data recovery program that has proven to be invaluable for my careless self. It provides a handy context menu option for targeting specific drives or even folders. If there is no overwriting, the files should appear with a green badge. Simply select the files, hit recover and specify an output folder (preferably on a separate drive or partition).