Seeking alternative file manager
July 15, 2009 7:40 AM   Subscribe

I need a free file manager for Windows XP that will allow me to specify the order in which files are physically written to an SD Card. Specifically - if i have a folder of music containing, say, 32 tracks of varying length, I want to be able to instruct the file manager to complete the copying of them over according to something like the file name (if each track title was prefixed by the track number) - The order in which Windows Explorer seems to complete copying seems to be based purely on how long each track takes - i.e. shorter tracks copy over sooner than longer tracks due to their file size. Any recommendations of free options gratefully received.

CONTINUE READING FOR MORE SPECIFIC DETAILS OF WHY I NEED THIS:

I have recently bought a new card stereo (A Blaupunkt Melbourne) with an SD card slot - it's great.

However, after a bit of head scratching, I have worked out that when it plays back MP3 tracks from a particular folder it plays them back in the order they were written to the card.

For example, I have an album of ten tracks in a folder, I drag the folder onto the SD card in Windows Explorer. If tracks 3 and 10 are the shortest tracks (smallest files) they will complete copying over first and they will effectively be treated as tracks 1 & 2 by the car stereo.

It seems to make no difference how the tracks are named.

It's quiet annoying as it means that to listen to an album in the correct order, I have to drag each file over individually!
posted by mairuzu to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I guess you can just write a batch file (.bat) to control the copy yourself? You'll have to manually edit and type the filenames into the batchfile though.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 7:43 AM on July 15, 2009


I was stumped by this precise problem last year, when trying to figure out WTF was happening with a digital picture frame's file ordering.

No perfect solution, but some ideas in that thread.
posted by rokusan at 7:46 AM on July 15, 2009


Xplorer2 does this with a queue of files to write.
posted by unixrat at 7:48 AM on July 15, 2009


Xplorer2 linky link.
posted by unixrat at 7:49 AM on July 15, 2009


It seems FATsort addresses your exact problem.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:58 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was going to suggest FATsort too. I use it to alphabetize the SD card I use with my DS.
posted by graventy at 8:00 AM on July 15, 2009


Is your windows explorer view of the source folder set to sort by size rather than by filename? And so when you do the copy, Windows *is* doing it in order, but in order by size rather than by filename?

It seems really odd that the car stereo would do it that way. It seems really user unfriendly. Are you sure there's not a setting in the radio that changes how things are sorted?
posted by gjc at 10:53 AM on July 15, 2009


OK, I just did a copy of some files over to a memory card. I can't say what the structure is on the card, but Windows did the copy like this:

It copied the files in the order I had them sorted on my screen. Except that it copied the last file first, then it went in top-down. Very strange.
posted by gjc at 10:58 AM on July 15, 2009


It seems really odd that the car stereo would do it that way.

Its a very basic embedded device. It reads the filesystem from the beginning and seeks for an mp3 header. Once its finds it it tries to play the file. When the file ends it continues to the next sector looking for another mp3 header. So its going to play in copy order.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:27 AM on July 15, 2009


Any recommendations of free options gratefully received

Id just install an ftp server (filezilla server is free), run it locally, and use the built in queue function in my ftp client. The destination would just be the drive letter the SD card is using. Just set it to queue up one file at a time and start double-clicking away.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:29 AM on July 15, 2009


That FATsort program is awesome. I was about to write a script to do this, since I need something like it often too, but that just does it for me. Neato!
posted by koeselitz at 12:26 PM on July 15, 2009


Id just install an ftp server (filezilla server is free), run it locally, and use the built in queue function in my ftp client. The destination would just be the drive letter the SD card is using. Just set it to queue up one file at a time and start double-clicking away.

I guess that might work on the file system of an SD card, but this question could be extended.. For example, I'd like to be able to write a backup drive from beginning to end, just like a CD/DVD burn. If you just drag and drop 200GB of files onto a newly formatted drive, NTFS will choose where to place files somewhat arbitrarily. This leaves gaps, and gaps lead to fragmentation.
posted by Chuckles at 12:36 PM on July 15, 2009


Leads me to another thought- what filesystems can the stereo read? Can it see only FAT, or FAT and FAT32, or those + NTFS? Might be worth seeing if reformatting the flash card to a different filesystem changes the results...

Filesystem thoughts- I wish NTFS were a little more customizable. As chuckles says, it can get fragmented fairly easily. But it's hard for a FS to know what you are going to want to do with the data. Yes, for sure, NTFS will arrange the data on the system drive according to what it thinks will lead to the best performance. I don't know if it does that on non-system drives, however. Also however, leaving gaps between the files probably stops just as much fragmentation as it causes. Reason being that as files grow, the can expand to a contiguous block. If the file was right up against another, adding to a file would cause fragmentation. Or performance would suffer greatly as the filesystem would have to find another place large enough to store the entire file and rewrite the whole thing every time it changed. Truly, there's no winning in the filesystem game. Yet.

If it was me, I would probably create a folder on my desktop called "move to flash" or something like that. I'd copy the songs into there, and then when I had what I wanted, I'd create a batch file that just moves (or copies) everything onto the flash drive. Seems like less of a hassle than setting up an FTP server. Probably the same amount of hassle as using FATsort, if it works as advertised. I've never used it.

Another thought- perhaps the stereo can only "see" the 8.3 filename. Suppose your files are named Artist - Album - Track## - Title.mp3. All the machine will see is artist~1.mp3 artist~2.mp3 artist~3.mp3. In that case, you have to figure out how to get the OS to correctly order the 8.3 filenaming schema.
posted by gjc at 3:21 PM on July 15, 2009


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