Directory Monitor - Free software and questionable online user intelligence
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I developed Directory Monitor a couple years ago because of a need that could not be satisfied by any software on the internet. This was a great exercise in developing and releasing software online using PAD files and also keeping customers happy with feature requests and automatic updates.
I kept it up to date for free (thanks to some donations) and got a pretty good reception from people using it (check out the comments on my previous blog), won plenty of awards, made it on blog articles and software websites etc. Directory Monitor is currently being used by almost 11,000 users, not to mention it was downloaded 120,000 times last year. Everything was going so well I decided I was going to offer a paid for version with requested features like running it as a service, that was until I was looking at reviews and competing software…
This is a screenshot of what directory monitor looks like so you have something to compare to:
A review from “brain” on Softpedia blew me away. He goes on to conclude that the software is quote “A nice idea implemented using the wrong tools” because it requires .NET 3.5. The rating weren’t exactly flattering either. His final verdict, good--, how clever [insert insult here]++.
Seeing as I had to make Directory Monitor really good to justify asking users for money I wanted to see what I was up against. I was surprised to see how much competition had appeared and even more surprised at how bad it is (images link directly to the third party websites, if any of them are not visible let me know).
1. 365DirMon – This is such plagiarism it’s not even funny. The grid is a nice touch but even calling it “Directory monitor expert” with it’s retro 16 colour icons (256 at most) is a huge exaggeration:
2. TheFolderSpy – This guy “will” on ILoveFreeSoftware blatantly says that this is “a better program” than Directory Monitor. Curious since it also highlights all the features that I offer I stumbled upon this green monstrosity which also claims to be “the ultimate” hard disk monitoring tool:
This is also rated a staggering 4.4 (at time of writing) on Softpedia compared to the measly 3.0 rating that Directory Monitor gets. Can someone explain this?
3. Monitor Folder For Changes Software 7.0 – Not only is this in version 7.0 (that’s right, not a typo) but they are charging $20 for this:
This is also rated higher than Directory Monitor on Softpedia with a rating of 3.1 (at time of writing).
Doing this quick investigation really opened my eyes and actually irritated the hell out of me. I’m not bitter (not much) but I’m definitely going to update Directory Monitor soon…
So the question is, with this brutal competition and bold claims why do people rate bad software so highly? I would love to hear your comments.
I think I've said this before to you, but I'd like to say it again for a wider audience. I think your Directory Monitor is a fine example of a piece of software that:
1) is extremely useful
2) is well thought out and executed
3) does one kind of thing very well, and does it with great simplicity of execution
I think your instincts tell you (and the "votes" of 120,000 downloaders say it also) that you have a fine program, despite the comments of folks who probably don't benefit from using your software on a day-to-day basis.
Ignore the "naysayers" and continue to create great stuff that is useful to many, myself included.
By the way, having this run as a service is a great idea, and I would gladly pay for an upgrade that could do so.
Suggestion: make the current version a free "lite" version, and request a reasonable upgrade fee for the version that will run as a service, and contain perhaps a few other features.
IMHO keep the UI appearance the same, it definitely works for me!
Might be something to do with the .net requirement (need to download the large runtime on clean machines, and the scary "publisher cannot be verified/potentially harmful software" warning dialog is a dropoff point). Or they publicize their software in forums to drum up support/votes (seen that before), or maybe they just have more friends...Ewan
[b]@Bob[/b]: Thanks for the support, definitely motivates me to upgrade and give this 'trial' thing a go. I will always keep v1.x free.Werner
Paid for features that 1.x won't have include:
1. User/security information for who added/changed files.
2. More options of what to monitor instead of hiding that functionality.
3. Improved options menu.
4. Run as a service by default.
5. Different log window configurations (grid, plain text etc).
6. Pluggable framework to extend the 'execute on change' functionality (maybe).
Also want to include a help file just to wrap it up.
[b]@Ewan[/b]: The warning dialog is just a given for most software developers, you just cannot get around it without a certificate which is really costly if you aren't making any money from the signed software.
The download is not really that big (but I guess most end users don't know that, this is a huge problem for .NET apps, check http://www.smallestdotnet.com). I only use one class from the 3.5 framework and various other 'shortcut' techniques like LINQ. I guess I could revert to 2.0 to get a better operating system reach. This is a bunch of extra coding and I'm a lazy programmer...
Excellent little app. Does the job well.Tom
but i think some improvements must be made:
1. Balloon tips. I need balloon tips(notifications), but it pops out too often - its annoying. Had to switch off.
2. Refresh directory time limited to maximum 900 secs. I need it once a day. But no problem here.
3. When Folder is modified (eg date changed), but no files in folder were modified, i don't need notification. Remove or add option.
4. Filter log entries for each folder.
5. Uses 25-32Mb RAM? too much for little app.
Overall very useful app.
[b]@Tom[/b]: Thanks for the informative comment.Werner
[b]1[/b]. I know these get crazy and is only useful when you do not get a lot of changes. The icon image in the tray changes as well which is a less invasive notification.
[b]2[/b]. I'll make sure I increase this limitation.
[b]3[/b]. DM 2.0 will have options to only monitor file changes, directories or both.
[b]4[/b]. DM 2.0 will have much better filtering capabilities per directory being monitored similar to the likes of Disk Pulse.
[b]5[/b]. This is largely due to the amount of information in the log window, even under a huge amount of load the application itself only uses 20MB max (private working set) with a giant log and tons of monitors. The .NET CLR will always consume about 20-30MB and goes up and down based on system usage (no need to clear memory if you have it free). The application itself uses very little resources for a .NET application. The only way I could get less is to do it in C++...
If you're interested there are some interesting opinions on this StackOverflow article: stackoverflow.com/.../reducing-memory-usage-of-net-applications
and another article on the bad rep that .NET applications get about memory usage(quite old): http://www.itwriting.com/dotnetmem.php
I agree on all pointsJonas Onsurez
Very good presentation of directory monitor this software can solve our work easily which is provided by company free for us we should use this kind of packages.computer trouble shooting
Thank you for this very useful application. And I like the Emailer app, too. In combination they would help my with my fax2email problem. It works so far that it notices (immediately, not after the refresh time set) a new fax file that appears in the fax directory and the emailer mails it correctly. But the problem is: the fax program first puts a *.dmy file, then a *.ti_ temporary file and when it is ready there is a *.tif file - so the directory watcher sends the dmy file and the ti_ file and then the fax programm can not write to the temp file. so i put *.dmy; *.tif to the ignore list in the options. But the program ignores these setting completely. I already tried to restart and to remove the watch task and create a new, but it still keeps sending the temp files. Any idea?Marcus Müller
@[b]Marcus[/b]: OK, firstly I think you may have found a bug, the command still gets executed for ignored files but they will not appear in the log list. I'll look at sorting this out but in the meantime it's quite easy to solve your current problem.Werner
I'm sure you are probably executing the emailer application from a batch file because of all the extra parameters that you need to pass in? If not then just change the "Execute" application to a batch file which contains the following check:
[i]if %~x1==.tif echo start the emailer application for TIF files![/i]
Needless to say you just need to replace the ECHO with the command you actually want to execute. With this check in place it will only be executed when the extension of the detected file is .TIF.
Various other interesting ways to check incoming parameters can be found on this page: www.microsoft.com/.../percent.mspx
First a bug report: Create and monitor a folder (for all changes, subfolders too). Create a subfolder. Place a file in the subfolder. All those changes get noted. But now move the folder away - don't delete it, just move, or cut & paste. Nothing in the log. Note, I only tested this on one computer, but I tried a couple of different folders and got the same results. Win7 Pro Sp1, all applicable patches installed.Bill
And a comment: TheFolderSpy is not pretty, I agree - Directory Monitor is much nicer to work with, lots of options and a clean, modern interface. However, TFS correctly handles the situation above, it is a single executable under 100k in size, and it is available at no charge. It would be nice to have a service version, but I can try srvany if I need to, it's simple enough to use. (At the time I needed this functionality, the lack of a service version was not an issue.) That is why TheFolderSpy software gets a good rating.
@[b]Bill:[/b] Thanks for the bug report, this is actually a new issue with how newer versions of Windows report file changes. I have fixed it and released version 22.214.171.124. I also made a change to detect a new directory and get the files in it to improve the logging for moving folders into a monitored directory. Get the latest version here: http://deventerprise.net/Projects.aspxWerner
Thanks for the constructive comments, I still don't understand why it is rated that much higher though :-/.
[b]1[/b]. I'm happy to say that Directory Monitor now also correctly handles the issue in question.
[b]2[/b]. I have decided to re-release the portable version (also at the link above), it's 884KB which is significantly larger but still under a meg which I think is acceptable even under the most horrendous bandwidth situations.
[b]3[/b]. Directory Monitor is still free of charge and I will always keep version one that way.
[b]4[/b]. I have considered wrapping the functionality in a Windows Service because the demand for that is quite high based on user requests but can't justify the effort right now. I will probably do it soon though, even if it means just an additional service executable for now.
Wow that was fast! :-) Great piece of work, definitely superior to TFS (and I don't even count the others, when I looked at this category awhile back TFS was clearly the best that I found). Maybe the Softpedia reviewer's initials were TFS...Bill
There are lots of applications where you want something that can kick off a process when a file is generated (e.g., the fax process Marcus mentioned). This is much preferred over a script to poll the directory trees...
Hi, I just started using the prog, and the first impressions are absolutely positive.Gabriel
One minor thing after some hours of use: would it be possible to enable the full path AND filename being a hyperlink, so a file could be opened directly from there, not only the containing folder?
(I tried also TFP, was OK when it was monitoring only one type, but with multiple filetypes it stopped functioning - a piece of cr*p IMHO)
Anyway, thanks for this great app!!
[b]@Gabriel[/b]: No problem, deleted the first post.Werner
Adding an option to link the file path will be pretty easy, I linked the directory path on purpose because I didn't think linking directly to the file would be useful. I'll add this in the next release (126.96.36.199) along with some other changes I want to make. You can expect something this weekend:
WOW, thanks, look forward for the next release!Gabriel
Well, I'm anything else as a software developer :), but if you plan supporting more languages later, I would gladly provide a professional hungarian and maybe an italian translation, even for changelogs and documentation (eine Deutsche Übersetzung anzubieten wäre wahrscheinlich nicht ganz sinnvoll, oder? ;)
WOW, thanks for the release, got updated automatically :)Gabriel
[b]@Gabriel[/b]: No problem. I have built directory monitor with resources files for the strings (painful) to make it easily translatable. I just never got any requests for other languages so it's been in English for a while.Werner
I'll definitely take you up on that offer when all the changes are in, will be too chaotic now with things changing all the time.
I'm not very good at German (the name is deceiving), looks like you could help there too :)
May I ask for advice, or suggest a feature request?Peter
If log is >1000 things get really slow, GUI freezing and such, can't click the export and clear log. It would be an easy solution to start with a command line parameter to flush log into a custom file.
Made windows directory observed and sometimes witnessed rapid >1000 hit during install with repeated modifications on one file (like some directx.log during a game install and ngen_service.log during an ms update). After opening the GUI it adds all the entries one by one and after >1000 it gets very slow.
[b]@Peter[/b]: Large log performance issues have been resolved in v188.8.131.52.Werner
Seeing how there is other recent activity on this thread and being too lazy to find a more appropriate one, I am posting to thank you for Directory Monitor and a feature on its most recent update (184.108.40.206), the flashing icon. It is an improvement IMO over the pop-up text messages, so much so that I am strongly considering making a donation. I go to the ends of the earth to find completely free software for specialized tasks and had chosen Directory Monitor about a year ago over other similar programs because it did just what I wanted so well. The fact that you are still maintaining and improving on it deserves my support. I am having trouble finding an explanation what the paid unlocked version offers, but what little I can find out about it doesn't appear to offer me anything I'm interested in.Dan Moran
Thanks for a great product.
This is really a great product as it's freeware and the support+listen to end user's input. What can you expect? A software that works like a paid version?HE
I'm also strongly considering making a donation once i've tested this software for 45 days, making sure all "OK". Great job.
Og Btw, see something bug(not sure if it's bug or not). When ever there is a changes, it will show who made the changes. I'm see few "who" like xx or bb or cc or dd. Can you fix this?
I'm also hoping some features like the logs will also auto archive daily so this will not hog up the run resources, exclude file type to monitor and so on.
Continue above as i accidentally press enter.HE
The exclude file features is for individual settings, as i know there's such option for global.
Also i understand the software is free but i just want to give my 5cents end user review to add more value.
Per directory filtering is available in v2 (BETA at the time of writing).Werner