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I have quite a few external hard drives that I want to store off-line, and possibly off-site.

The contents is not saved in a structured manner, however; basically there's lots of project data for lots of projects.

Is there any software for Windows XP that will catalog all the hard drives, so I can search the catalog, find the files, and get the ID of the disk that has the content?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

See the freeware Gentibus CD.
It works well for all file types and has a good and quick search function (that you can see in the image below):

alt text

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Thanks! Looks great, I'm testing it out now :-) – Frodo-Norway Oct 2 '09 at 15:41
better avoid using proprietary software and/or proprietary file formats (see my answer for an alternative). – eadmaster Apr 17 '14 at 23:05
@eadmaster: We are all of us sure that our answer is the best, which is why it is advisable not to comment on or to down-vote other answers. Especially an answer dating from 4 years ago, and which at the time was accepted as being the best. – harrymc Apr 18 '14 at 6:04

Where is it?

WhereIsIt is an application written for Windows operating systems, and designed to help you maintain and organize a catalog of your computer media collection, including CD-ROMs and DVDs, audio CDs, diskettes, removable drives, hard drives, network drives, remote file servers, or any other present or future storage media device Windows can access as a drive.

It's shareware.

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You can always roll-yer-own from the commandline. I use this in Cygwin to create md5 checksums for data files getting backed up to data DVD. My primary use is verifing the data after burning, but I keep the file (renamed to reflect the disc label, and moved to a common directory with md5 files of other backups). Searching is as easy as grep'ing through that directory for a filename or keyword (say, a project name that might be found in folder names, since the md5 will store relative paths for each file).

In your case, assuming the data drive was mounted to E:, I'd start in /cygdrive/e/:

$ ( cd /cygdrive/e/ ; find . -type f -print0 | xargs -0 md5sum >> ~/e-drive.md5.txt ; cp ~/e-drive.md5.txt . )

That's everything on the drive, so the drive can be disconnected and stored. Now move the md5 file into wherever you're archiving the md5 files, and give it a more identifiable name:

$ mv ~/e-drive.md5.txt "~/My Documents/Archive Drives/New_E_Drive_Label.md5.txt"

When you need a file, or a project, search for a known keyword (or string of them -- say, only show .DOC files associated with Project X):

$ cd "~/My Documents/Archive Drives"
$ grep "Project X" * | grep -i doc
New_E_Drive_Label.md5.txt:53:0123456789abcdef0123456  Projects/Project X/Design.doc  
New_E_Drive_Label.md5.txt:54:0123456789abcdef0123456  Projects/Project X/Testing.doc  
New_E_Drive_Label.md5.txt:55:0123456789abcdef0123456  Projects/Project X/World Domination.doc
Some_Other_Drive.md5.txt:2:0123456789abcdef0123456  Project X rulez.doc
Old_Broken_Drive.md5.txt:17:0123456789abcdef0123456  What is this Project X again.doc

... you get the idea. That's certainly not the prettiest output, but it cleans up nice with a little perl/python. Or import it into a spreadsheet or database, test your awk skillz, whatever.

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md5 hashing is slower than crc32, better stick with cksum or rhash (see my answer) – eadmaster Apr 16 '14 at 2:20

My favorite is by far Cathy! It's very fast! works superbly, creates small compact catalogs. Its only 59KB in size. I bet you can't find a tinier app for this purpose anywhere else!

See here for other alternatives.

My ideal solution is something like Cathy with these features as well:

  • Auto snapshot Drives on a scheduled period, storing incremental images. (You can sort of do this using a task scheduler and git or mercurial I suppose, but haven't tried it yet)
  • Have a compare option as well. (See FilePro which has this option)
  • Then sync my various PCs and hard drives via dropbox/others

And voila! I have instant search access to all my Disks, plus a backup archive to see my list of files in case of disaster.

I just found ScanFS today, but it had some errors while scanning a catalog, and not as Hard Drive centric as Cathy.

Oh that reminds me, I forgot my most often used one that has now been unsupported since 2011 That can also be used as a cataloger though it requires more effort in adding databases. Great for searching but poor for browsing.

So my final recommendation is still cathy. Damn I have so many great ideas for Cathy, but the author is unwilling to release the source (i asked).

Some more research links:

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there are a lot of free alternatives, but, if you don't need fancy stuff like image thumbnailing, metadata extraction, etc. i've found the best solution is to use regular plaintext files generated with:

  • dir /s /b > myindex.dir (on Windows, store file names only)
  • du -ac > myindex.du (on Linux, store file names + sizes)
  • rhash --crc32 --sfv -r . > myindex.sfv (multiplatform tool, store file names + sizes + moddates + hashes to easily find duplicates)


  • you can read, edit and search plaintext files anywhere, on any OS (you are not bound to any proprietary file format, no need to install any specific software)
  • index generation is usually faster than any disk cataloger software (because they usually build binary search trees)


  • interactive file tree browsing is not possible currently (see my requests here and here)
  • linear search is slower than binary search, but for small datasets is acceptable, especially in modern computers...


  • you can sort the indexes in folders like "burned_discs", "external_hdds", "internal_hdds", "pendrives", etc.
  • if you are not comfortable with the command-line you can add a shortcut in the right-click menu of your filemanager to generate the index of any folder...
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use JR Directory Printer to catalog the drives, output in TXT files, easy to search.

JR Directory Printer is freeware and portable.

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VVV (Virtual Volumes View) is an alternative free and open-source application that runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX.

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