capsule review

DiskBoss Free (32-bit version)

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder DiskBoss Free (32-bit version)

    PCWorld Rating

    This product features interesting and powerful disk management features, locked in a maze of upsell dialogs.

DiskBoss is a suite of disk management tools that focuses on searching, organizing, and manipulating files. With TB well on its way to replacing GB, and file counts in the hundreds of thousands being all too typical, the need for tools to deal with that morass is clear.

Unfortunately, DiskBoss Free is a perfect example of what I've come to call "teaseware": software that doesn't let you know which features are unavailable until you try to use them. In one particularly egregious case, I had gone through a complex, multi-level, muti-dialog-box process to create a custom rule for organizing files, only to be told when I went to save it that this feature would require an expensive upgrade. DiskBoss has an annoying habit of not letting you know what menu or dialog options are not supported until you click on them and get an upgrade message. Using Free or even Pro (the "standard" version) has some irksome limitations: Free will scan only the first 250K files, for example, and Pro allows only 10 user-defined commands.

On the up side, those features that you can access in any given version work very well and very fast. Many queries returned much faster than I would have anticipated, and DiskBoss has a very responsive interface. DiskBoss tends to give you usable "default" (just click and go) settings, and a wide range of options to give you finer control--but you never know which of the options you can actually use until you try.

Bookmarks allow you to quickly navigate to favorite directories--a virtual necessity in DiskBoss Free, since the 250K file limit makes full-drive queries unlikely to succeed on any but the smallest modern computers. I should also comment on the file classification system; there is only one classification rule set available on Free, but it's pretty good at relating extensions to file types in a user-understandable way. Other plug-ins (in essence, sets of rules for deciding what's a spreadsheet, what's a movie, and so on) are included in higher priced version--and, just to flog this dead horse one more time, DiskBoss Free list of plug-ins for file classification does not let you know which you can use until you've selected them.

One other issue, perhaps not one of concern to most users, is that DiskBoss has no way to use regular expressions in file searches. While the file search rules are fairly robust (begins with, contains, ends with, classified as, size, date, and more), there isn't a way to find "All files beginning with any three alphabetic characters, followed by four numbers", which is the kind of thing I actually need to do on a regular basis, in order to find and sort files whose names are the results of various algorithms. This feature not present in any of the current versions of DiskBoss, but it is intended for a future release.

DiskBoss can be a potent tool for understanding what's on your drive and where your storage is going, and the duplicate-finding and file-organizing tools (that latter only in Ultimate) can help you produce order out of chaos. But the constant upsell, which would shame even the producers of a Facebook game, makes the entire experience so frustrating that it's hard for me to give an unqualified recommendation. For the cost, any prospective user would need to be sure the full feature set matched their need--something they can't do easily. A shorter trial with more functionality, or even greying out unavailable options, would do a lot. As is, I think DiskBoss Free has enough potential utility that it can be worth downloading the trial and giving it a spin, but be prepared for frustration.

Note: This software comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. This is the 32-bit version. If your 64-bit PC is running a 64-bit OS, please download the 64-bit version instead.

--Ian Harac

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This product features interesting and powerful disk management features, locked in a maze of upsell dialogs.

    Pros

    • Useful tools; fast; many viewing options

    Cons

    • Teaseware; often tedious interface; free version has many limits
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