Full user review
"Has potential, but buggy."
Highly customizable, mostly does what it's supposed to.
Heavy resource usage compared to other file managers I've tried, does not correctly save view type, can be slow to respond, a little unstable at times, context menu extensions are broken, does not always display the contents of a selected folder.
UltraExplorer has some great potential as a file manager and a Windows Explorer replacement, but unfortunately, it suffers form a few problems that cannot be overlooked.
First of all, let's talk about what's good and useful. UltraExplorer has a high level of customizability. You can change a lot of how the program looks, feels, and functions by manipulating toolbars, sub-windows, and layouts.
You can also set the program to remember the folders you've recently visited and display them in a History pane so you can access them again, quickly and easily, which is particularly useful if you are going back and forth between two directory trees for some reason (something I do fairly often). This can be achieved in other file managers through the use of split panes or tabs, but I personally prefer the saved history. UltraExplorer can also be set up for multiple panes as well if that is your style, and it can do so in a tabbed interface or split panes, or both.
The program also offers some extra features not common in most file managers, including a very large array of sub-windows/panes and toolbars that can be customized, shown or hidden, and moved around.
All of that makes getting the program set up just the way you want it a little time consuming, but once it's done, it is worth it.
Unfortunately, as my list of cons would suggest, the program has some problems which make it less than ideal.
First, it uses a lot of RAM compared to other file managers. This is probably due to customizations and allowing it to save a history of visited folders, and as such it could be minimized but choosing not to rely on those features, but those are some of the features that make the program worth using in the first place. It still isn't as much of a memory hog as Windows Explorer though, and that at least is something.
Additionally, it can be slow to respond at times, even when total CPU and memory usage on the system is low, sometimes UltraExplorer just doesn't want to cooperate in a quick manner. This temperamental side of the program usually resolves itself within a few seconds, and it does not rear its ugly head all that often, but when it comes along, it can be quite annoying.
Furthermore, the program is occasionally a little unstable. Particularly, it does not always like to shut down, instead throwing an error that resources are locked out and asking if you would like to force the closure. If you tell it to force out, it does so without difficulty (which more than can be said for Windows' ability to End Task a hung program), but it seems to be random as to when it will give the error in the first place, and there seems to be no reason for the initial failure to close at those times.
Fourth, as I said, the context menu extensions are broken. UltraExplorer as an option under Tools/Shell Extensions to enable its own context menu extensions for use throughout the Windows environment, but attempting to enable those shell extensions will cause windows startup and context menu errors resulting from the fact that the shell extensions for UltraExplorer are not coded and installed correctly. The only way to get rid of the errors is to manually edit the system Registry to remove UltraExplorer's shell extensions (or restore a registry backup from just before you tried to enable the extensions). Since the extensions simply do not work, and they cause problems if you try to install them, it is better to simply never install them.
Also, again as I mentioned, the program does not always display the contents of a selected folder. Specifically, if you have the folders tree view open and you select a folder, then select a different folder, and then go back to the first folder, UltraExplorer will continue to display the contents of the second folder you selected, rather than correctly displaying the contents of the first/third folder. This behavior seems to be random and unpredictable as well, with the program *usually* correctly updating the displayed folder contents, and only occasionally failing to do so. In these rare occasions, in order to get the program to correctly display the folder contents, you have to click the folder again. I have not, however, seen the same behavior when using the history, so you can work around it fairly easily.
Lastly, and most personally annoying to me, while the program allows you to set a default sort option under Tools/Options/Listview/Common/Default Sort Column, it never actually sorts files and folders by the default that you set. When you open a new folder up, you will find that the specified default sort column has an active sort arrow as if the program is sorting by that column, but the files and folders themselves are actually displayed as sorted by Name, not by the sort type you've specified. This is also true if you set the program to remember each individual folder's sort method. Because the program never correctly sorts based on such settings, there is no reason to change the default sort method, or to have the program remember each folder's sort setting individually, but simply set it to always sort by Name for all folders (since it will anyway). This means that if you want to sort by a different method, you have to correct the sorting each and every time you view a folder. If you set the sort method for a folder to something other than by Name, navigate to a different folder, and then navigate back, you will have to set the sort method again.
So in summary, while UltraExplorer has a lot of potential, and while I truly love the customization options available for it, the reality is that the program has too many bugs to ignore. In the end, the potential productivity gains from the customization options are offset by the productivity hindrances of the bugs and the ensuing annoyance. I personally will keep looking for a better alternative.