A person, who has had a computer for long, often learns that it's best to know how to setup your computer by yourself. Seldom does the consumer get good after sale support, especially if it's software related. In this article we are going to talk about five very powerful and totally free disk utilities, which will make it very easy for you to manage your hard disk drive, before and after you install your Windows operating system.
Dual OS or installing multiple operating systems seems to have become a trend with most PC enthusiasts. With hard drive prices falling by the fortnight, high capacity disks are very affordable today. This is where a tool like Ranish Partition Manager 2.43 becomes very handy. Simply put, this is a hard disk partition manager, which is free and has a lot more features than FDisk. If you didn't know, FDisk is a disk-partitioning tool, which comes along with the Windows operating system. Unlike FDisk, Ranish Partition Manager 2.43 is much more advanced and boasts of features like copying, moving, resizing and hiding disk partitions. Not only that, it also allows you to convert and create different file systems. With this tool you can create Linux Swap partitions, ext2fs file system, as well as file systems supporting Solaris x86, Unix and BeOS.
The latest version of Ranish Partition Manager 2.43 allows you to create up to 32 primary and extended partitions, which is a lot more than FDisk allows. It also allows for the creation of more than four primary partitions on a single hard drive. FDisk in no way allows you to do this. The Disk manager in Windows XP does make the job of partitioning hard drives really easy, but if you're going to install multiple OSs like Linux, BeOs and Windows then this is a tool for you. After you have used it once you will never look back. It even measures up to commercial applications like Partition Magic. To use Ranish Partition Manager 2.43 you will have to boot using a Windows boot disk. The application can be found at www.ranish.com or you can download it directly by clicking on the download link.
Size: 173 KB
If you happen to install multiple operating systems on a single HDD then XOSL 1.1.5 is the best boot manager you will ever come across. Of course, today Windows XP supports dual boot feature, but it lacks in all departments when compared to XOSL. Extended Operating System Loader (XOSL) is the ultimate boot manager with a graphical user interface. It can mathematically allow you to up to 24 boot items supporting operating systems like BeOS, MS-DOS, FreeDOS, Linux (with Lilo), Solaris, Windows 95/98/Me and Windows NT/2000.
XOSL 1.1.5 allows you to set a boot up time before it can boot into your default, set passwords, or even boot into the last operating system. With the graphical interface it has you can set the screen resolution to whatever your graphics card supports. The boot manager also has support for mouse and keyboard input devices. You can set the mouse speed and even enable hotkeys for the keyboard. XOSL comes with support for different colour schemes to suite your liking. You can go to www.xosl.org to find out more about this freeware utility. XOSL 1.1.5 is again a small application and is installed using a floppy. You can download it at the following link.
Size: 437 KB
O&O Defrag 2000 is the only freeware defragmentation tool available for Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT. It is supposed to perform better than the conventional one shipped with Windows. O&O Defrag 2000 comes with support for FAT, FAT32, NTFS and NTFS5 file systems. Running the defragment tool is always good for the file system. It rearranges cluttered data systematically making the file system perform faster. The O&O Defrag 2000 Freeware Edition 3.5.562 can be found at www.oosoft.de
Size: 2.07 MB
Empty Temp Folders 2.8.3 is a good freeware utility, which lets you delete temp files that eat up a lot of space on your computer and cleans up all the Internet history, browser cache and cookies. Apart from these there are a lot of unnecessary temp files, which are left by many applications. File types like '.temp', '.tmp', '.old', '.mtx', '.dmp', '.chk', '.bsc', '.bak', '.gid' etc. are not really necessary, and this application is able to find such files so you can choose to delete them. It also lets you add additional file types to search. Empty Temp Folders 2.8.3 is one up on other such applications because it able to look for invalid links on your hard drive. This software can be found at www.danish-shareware.dk. If you would like to download it, just click on the link below.
Size: 667 KB
The last of the Freeware Disk Utility that we are going to talk about is a tiny application called Cathy. We have written about this application in the past. But we have still to see a better disk cataloging program than this. This hardly uses any resources and once a drive is cataloged it gives lightning fast accurate results. Cathy 2.19 gives you searching capabilities based on file name, date and size. It becomes very easy to find a song or a movie on the hard disk. You have to actually use it to see how fast it really is. The homepage can be found at rvas.webzdarma.cz and if you would like to go straight ahead and download this utility, just click on the link.
All these tools we talked about are 100% freeware applications. We have found them all to be unique, very stable, and unmatched in their categories. O&O Defrag 2000 is a freeware with a few limited features concerning scheduling tasks, but otherwise runs extremely well. Ranish Partition Manager and XOSL may not be developed anymore, but are still very useful. Microsoft and the Linux community should learn how to make boot managers from XOSL. Nobody has come close to it. In this article we have talked about applications useful from the installation stage to the managing and productive stage of the hard drive. Make the most of it and use these applications where you have to.