XFile is a retro file manager, very similar to the ancient XTree Gold. (And we do mean ancient. XTree first appeared back in 1985, so we're talking a DOS-type character-based interface here.)

One major problem with a program of this age is that it doesn't follow the usual Windows conventions. You can't drag with the mouse to select several files, for instance. Holding down Ctrl or Shift to select multiple files doesn't work, either. And there's no point right-clicking files to see what you can do with them, because context menus aren't supported here.

XFile doesn't automatically read the contents of a folder as you click on it, either (you'll need to double-click). There are no in-line file previews. And while you can open a window to display thumbnails of the images in a folder, you then have to close that before you can switch back to the file manager.

Does this mean the program is entirely useless, though? Maybe not. XFile, like XTree, is really all about providing quick and easy keyboard shortcuts to common file management tasks. In a click or two you could, say, select all the TXT files in the current folder, copy or move them elsewhere, open a file, view or set its file attributes and more.

There's also useful integration with other features of your system. Open the Web menu, say, and you can launch your browser, email client, FTP program or more in a keypress, while Ping, Traceroute and IPConfig are just a hotkey away.

And of course the rather basic technology underlying the program means it's extremely undemanding. XFile can be run from a USB key, requires under 800KB of drive space and used less than 16MB of RAM on our test PC.

This still isn't a program for PC novices, of course. But if you've used an XTree Gold-compatible file manager before, and remember the keypresses, then it could still be useful for a few file management tasks, and the program is now entirely free to try (although there is an annoyingly-placed "Donate" button which tends to obscure the current file path).

Verdict ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings

It looks horrible, doesn't support most Windows conventions and is generally uncomfortable to use. XFile does have a surprising number of features, though, and if you have fond memories of XTree Gold-style file management then it may be worth a try.