Windows has never really offered much of a disk utility. My Computer doesn't offer many options, and the Disk Management Tool isn't meant for simple, everyday tasks. Alex Nolan's Drive Manager is a free, portable disk management tool that displays available space and a lot of other information about your hard drives, optical drives, removable drives, and even your card readers. It can hide and unhide or lock and unlock drives, access tools like Check Disk, create substitute drive letters for files and folders, search drives, show disk speed, eject USB drives, and more.
As portable freeware, Drive Manager opens as soon as you click its executable file, which can go anywhere, including portable devices like USB drives. Drive Manager's user interface is really quite attractive, with a rounded, shaded Aero look and colorful icons. The main list view displayed a great deal of information about our installed disks, with grayed-out entries for inactive card readers and removable drives as well as the empty DVD-RW drive. The program hides A and B drives, since floppies are scarce these days. Drive Manager displays disk size, space used, and both available space and free space percentage, with automatic refreshing every 10 seconds, as well as Volume Serial, Product ID, and lots more. We could access any drive's Explorer Properties or open it directly in Explorer from Drive Manager's toolbar or menu. The Drives menu accesses much more information, including SMART data. We could also Map and Disconnect Network Drives.
Our favorite extra has to be the Disk Speed tool, which runs benchmarking tests on local or removable drives, depending on which you select. We tested our local disk drives, and the benchmarking tool showed our SSD posting read times more than three times faster than our hard disk. We were surprised that Drive Manager doesn't distinguish SSDs and HDDs in its headings, and also that we couldn't seem to customize the heading selections or reposition them, though we could drag the separators. Perhaps an update will accommodate the rapid changes brought by SSDs. In any case, we have no trouble calling Drive Manager one of our favorite disk utilities.
From Alex Nolan:
Drive Manager continually monitors the space available for each of your drive letters. You can also open a drive in explorer by double clicking on it. The Floppy disk drive letters A and B are ignored. It automatically refreshes every 10 seconds. This saves you having to use the "My Computer" in windows and then change to the report view. The volume label is displayed for all removable drives as well as local drives. This is useful if you have lots of thumb drives or smart media, compact flash. The serial number column is useful for keeping track of which hard disk is which or for logging you customers' hard disk serial numbers.