time we review a high-end file manager, we fall all over
ourselves offering thanks and happy joy-joy. Re-reading
past reviews is sometimes embarrassing therefore because
of the effusive praise we've heaped on some of these products.
But there's no escaping the fact that several of the file
managers on the market today are genuinely special products.
So how on earth are we going to deal with this review of
Servant Salamander? First off, we're going to ignore the
product name because it just doesn't do justice to a powerful
and classy piece of utility software.
mundane, inherently boring and vacantly powerless nature
of the Windows Explorer file manager (aka "My Computer")
is never more obvious than when it's placed next to something
like Servant Salamander. Where Windows Explorer spawns
either multiple single-pane windows (shudder) or a single
pane window which updates with each successive directory
click (groan), Servant Salamander provides a dual-pane
view, separate drive selectors for each pane and the
ability to navigate different drives in each pane, copying
or moving or performing other file functions independently
in each pane. Use Servant Salamander for as little as
five minutes of copy/move & paste or drag & drop
file management or manual backup tasks and you'll wonder
why Microsoft has allowed Windows Explorer to languish
in its lame and severely limited state for so many years.
sets all the competing file managers apart are the little
things that make (computing) life easier. One of Servant
Salamander's unique claims to fame is its extensive use
of plugins. The software is built to allow third-party
developers, as well as Altap, to create all kinds of
useful utilities which function inside Servant Salamander.
For example, the PictView plugin functions as a useful
little screen capture utility which can be called from
almost any other application as long as Servant Salamander
is up and running. PictView is also capable of displaying
over 60 different file formats. There's a handy File
Undelete plugin which is more than sufficient for accidental
deletions which bypassed the Recycle Bin. The WinSCP
file transfer protocol (FTP) plugin is a rock-solid file
transfer utility. All in all, well over two dozen plugins
are currently available for Servant Salamander.
if plugins aren't your cup of tea, Servant Salamander
has other features in reserve which help to set it apart
from the competition. First and foremost, its windows
refresh on the fly. That means forced or manual refreshes
are largely a thing of the past. This feature amounts
to a significant time saver especially when copying,
pasting, moving and generally performing a lot of different
file management functions. The directory you happen to
be working in is continually updated as you make changes
and do general file housekeeping and maintenance tasks.
Very nice, and a pointed lesson for other developers.
It's this feature in particular, which has forced me
to reassess Total Commander (which has always had a problem
with directory refreshes).
Salamander is supplied with a full set of file archivers
covering every compression and encryption routine you
can imagine. Of course ZIP is available as well and includes
all the usual features such as full paths, password protection,
package encryption and so on.
users will revel in the Commands menu. You'll find a
complete set of power tools for everything from creating
Make File Lists (in preparation for compiling a set of
files into an executable for example), programming custom
user menus, access to the Windows command shell, open
folder lists, drive and directory statistics and about
a dozen other housekeeping functions, as well as network
file association and directory tools. It's a lot to take
in a first glance, but the software is well organized
and well laid out, making it relatively easy to learn.
I've been using Servant Salamander exclusively for file
management over the past month and I'm still discovering
new uses for it.
is a fast file viewer and quite useful, but unfortunately
loses track of the directory it's reading if you change
directories in the active pane. Other than that, Servant
Salamander functions as advertised.
all-time favorite file manager up until recently was
Total Commander. It has traditionally battled three competitors:
PowerDesk, Explorer Plus and xplorer2 Professional. There
is now a fourth contender—Servant Salamander. I'm
probably going to kick creaky old PowerDesk off the list
because V-COM is doing a terrible job of supporting and
developing the program. In any case, I like Servant Salamander
for all the right reasons: extensive functionality, excellent
workflow and usability, and above all else, separate
drive selectors for each file pane. I may be somewhat
easy to please, but a drive selector for each window
pane dramatically shortens path and drive selection time,
copy & paste activities, and many other tasks. Continuous
directory refreshes make manual file management a breeze—this
feature alone helps place Servant Salamander above a
number of its competitors. Although the look and feel
of Servant Salamander is completely different from PentaWare's
unique PentaSuite software, I can't help but note that,
like PentaSuite, Servant Salamander is more like a comprehensive
system utility rather than just a file management tool.
Unlike PentaSuite however, Servant Salamander is a file
manager front & center, hanging all its peripheral
(plugin) functionality on an extremely well designed
and solid framework of robust file management tools.
Easy to understand and use. Fast operation. Unique to
Servant Salamander is a User Skill Level setting in the
Options menu, which allows you to adjust the complexity
and availability of menu commands from Beginning (very
few menu commands) to Intermediate to Advanced (full
set of menu commands and functions). It's a thoughtful
approach (Microsoft take note please) that can make it
quite easy to get started with file maintenance and management
if you're unfamiliar with the process (or if, like most
people, you avoid the effort even at the potential cost
of lost data). It's also an easy way to gradually learn
how to get the most out of the program. Servant Salamander
is a wonderful, well supported file management utility.
I give Servant Salamander the edge as top file dog for
now. Highly recommended.