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?


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

  • 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

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 http://locate32.cogit.net/ 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:


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.


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...
  • We dont really need to hash unless we need to detect dupes right – killjoy Aug 9 '18 at 23:02

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


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.

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

use JR Directory Printer to catalog the drives, output in TXT files, easy to search.

JR Directory Printer is freeware and portable.

  • @Molly7244 Does it give folder/file sizes ? I think the du option would work best (linux shell in Win) ? But if this does, nothing beats a GUI. – killjoy Aug 9 '18 at 23:07

I used to use WinCatalog (nag), Disk Explorer Pro 3, and a bunch of others.

Then I tried the du option thinking text would be the simplest option. Not only did it result in a file size of 1/2 G, search would be within Notepad which is kludgy (doesnt filter non-matches)

Then I went back to the DEPro3, not only is file size for the same drive just 39KB, its search is fast and filters other crud out, and is great for organizing many drives.

Imagine cataloging many drives with du !!

Time to index: du & VVV took > 2 hours; WinCat - forever; DEPro3 - 5 min!! - heck was I impressed !

Most of all, size of resulting indexed file matters if you are storing it in a cloud drive, specially during sync.

  • Did you checked download link to DEPro3 you posted? Looks like download domain is expired – Alex Aug 10 '18 at 14:47
  • I guess you are referring to the final link, yeah it didn't work for me either (I had downloaded it years back - must be defunct now). I will hunt it down and re-post. – killjoy Aug 10 '18 at 15:55
  • I guess you are referring to the final link, yeah it didn't work for me either (I had downloaded it years back - must be defunct now). I will hunt it down and re-post. Update: Well I searched and most of the hits seemed iffy. Guess he has closed shop...sorry ! Great piece of software. – killjoy Aug 10 '18 at 16:13

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