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date 2.Apr.2017

■ As good as it gets for social Network file and folder operations


Hooking up computers in networks, be it homegroup, workgroups, network attached storage (NAS), local area network (LAN), all the way to WAN and VPN, is great for sharing information the old trusty pre-cloud way — the only way you can trust with your important files. The down side is that everything over the network gets painfully slow and error prone, especially over remote VPNs. As the saying goes, no amount of fancy controllers can turn a VW Lupo into a Ferrari. Likewise xplorer² cannot speed up a slow network but it can make it more bearable if you are prepared to switch to a spartan remote folder browsing mode.

xplorer² knows which folder browsing modes are most demanding and optionally will take things easy. The option Faster network access (on by default) located in Advanced property page (see pic) is an all-or-nothing optimization switch. Tick it to have as fast as it goes remote browsing, or clear it to have all mod cons, i.e. treat network folders just like any other local filesystem folder — if your network is fast or if you don't mind waiting a while longer. The Fast network switch controls the following:
  • Automatic folder size calculation off
  • Folder free space statusbar panel off
  • Simpler icons and no icon overlays
  • No infotips for network items
  • No automatic alignment of the folder tree
I believe the above limitations do not substantially degrade your browsing experience, but users occasionally complain about the tree synchronization and lack of TSVN icon overlays. If you need all the bells and whistles you must turn off the Fast network option.
options tweak for faster networking

Network folder availability
Many times workgroup folders will be totally unavailable. Never mind about fast access, you cannot have any access! The connection may even drop without notice after an initial successful reading. As a result windows get stuck for long periods trying to (re)connect. xplorer² cannot bend the laws of physics here either, but it does allow you to abort or interrupt a doomed network read attempt, pressing <ESC> key. As we've seen before xplorer² continuously monitors the connection via pinging (the behaviour is adjustable through nPingTimeoutMS advanced option).

Here's another common scenario. You've last used xplorer² at work hooked on a number of LAN/WAN folders, then took the laptop home and xplorer² takes a day or two to start, trying in vain to reconnect to the unavailable network folders. The solution is to use the /N command line switch that tells xplorer² not to reconnect any network drives from the last session.

Network file transfer
Copying files from or to remote computers is not immune to problems peculiar to networks, and xplorer² has some tricks up its sleeve. If you copy very large files (in the GB range) over a network, there are reports of your whole computer choking and freezing because all your RAM is used to cache the huge file — talking about false optimization! xplorer² offers the advanced registry option nUnbufferedCopyMB as a remedy. By default files larger than 2GB will be copied without caching — it is unlikely that you'd want to copy the same movie multiple times, no?

Another trick you can apply is to intentionally slow down a network file transfer using the nCopyThrottleMS registry tweak.

Yet another one: you wake up in the morning to discover your overnight remote file copy of a few gazillions of terabytes has gone foobar somewhere in the middle of the night after a network outage. You can salvage the ruins using xplorer² robust copy function to resume where it faulted (simply using the overwrite if newer else skip copy option). Nice and easy.

ps. If you need a quick refresher about network access including mapping network drives and UNC \\server\paths here's a 10 year old network path article

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