Scroll down to win one of the three licenses of Zentimo (worth $35 each) that I am giving away.
Zentimo is a new(ish) product from Crystal Rich Limited, the folks behind the popular USB Safely Remove tool. Zentimo describes itself as a “Swiss army knife for your external drive needs”. I would describe it as an evolved version of USB Safely Remove that is better suited for external hard disks.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with USB Safely Remove, its major benefit is being able to eject external drives safely and easily. Windows has a safely remove feature that allows you to unmount devices so that they can be removed without any data loss and disk errors. Unfortunately, Windows’ safely remove feature fails, if any process is accessing files stored on the drive. On such occasions, USB Safely Remove can identify the offending process and unlock the drive, before safely removing it. Moreover, unlike Crystal Rich’s application, the built-in safely remove feature is slow, and makes it really hard to correctly identify a device, if there are multiple external drives.
All of these advantages are present in Zentimo. However, it offers several advanced features to make management of external hard drives easier. Some of the major benefits of Zentimo are:
Enhanced Device Menu: The improved device menu not only lists every plugged-in storage device, but also creates separate entries for individual partitions. You can directly open a partition, or even launch portable apps stored on the device from the menu itself. As visible in the screenshot embedded below, the menu also offers other useful information like amount of free space remaining and the name of the partitions.
Improved Safe Removal: Like USB Safely Remove, Zentimo can identify and unlock or close processes preventing a device from being ejected. However, it goes a step further. Zentimo can actually power-off the hard disk to ensure that it is not spinning when you unplug it. However, I am not convinced there are any real benefits to powering off the device. It seems that unless you have a really old device, (at least theoretically) you shouldn’t need to do this. The official explanation of this feature acknowledges as much.
When you safely remove the device in Windows XP it powers the device off – in case off a flash drive its led was switched off and in case of a portable hard drive it was spun down. But Microsoft changed this behavior in Vista and it still exists in Win 7: after you stop the device on these OSes the hard drive continue spinning and flash drive continue lighting. All modern hard drives park theirs heads automatically when you unplug them so in theory this behavior shouldn’t lead to data looses or drive damages. But in practice the hard drive usually sound strangely when you unplug them on run and this makes a hard drive owner being a bit nervous when he hears that.
Enhanced Device Management: Zentimo has some nifty device management settings. You can change the name of the device, as well as assign it a custom icon to make it easier to recognise. Additionally, you can assign it a fixed drive letter, or even mount it as a folder. As in USB Safely Remove, you can automatically run certain applications when a USB device is inserted or removed. Zentimo also claims powerful integration with TrueCrypt. However, I didn’t test this aspect.
Benchmark: Zentimo has a single click benchmark option for external disks, which tests read/write speeds with small as well as large file to give you a comprehensive idea about your device’s performance.
Portability: Zentimo saves the settings in the device itself, so if you plug it into another system running Zentimo, all the customisations will be carried over.
Ideally, we shouldn’t need an application to safely remove devices. Unfortunately, the truth is that Windows’ default implementation is overtly simplistic, and can be extremely frustrating on occasions. USB Safely Remove is amongst my favourite applications, and I regard it as a must have. Zentimo is a significantly improved edition of USB Safely Remove. If you already own USB Safely Remove, take the trial edition of Zentimo for a spin to find out if you really need the additional features. Zentimo is pricier than USB Safely Remove, but a 50% discount is available to the owners of the latter software. If you have never used any of the products from Crystal Rich, I highly recommend trying them out. Zentimo is obviously better than USB Safely Remove, but not everyone will appreciate the advantages offered by it. Go for it, if the extra fifteen bucks doesn’t bother you, or you need the additional features. The benefits of Zentimo are a lot more than skin-deep, and it’s still early days for the product.
Download Zentimo (2.9 MB)
Platforms Supported: Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7(x86 and x64)
License: Shareware (30 days trial)
Cost: $35 (1 Year Upgrade License)
Version Reviewed: 126.96.36.1992 Beta
Zentimo License Giveaway
As promised, I have another contest for my blog readers. Zentimo is sponsoring three licenses worth $105 (each license is worth $35). The license will entitle you to unlimited use of the software along with one year of free updates. Here’s how you can participate in the giveaway.
Comment on this post. Make sure you use a valid e-mail address. (compulsory)
Follow @indyan and retweet this message to get a bonus entry into the lucky draw. You must post the status update URL in the comments section to be considered. (optional)
Subscribe to my e-mail newsletter to get a bonus entry into the lucky draw. After subscribing, you must let me know by leaving a comment. (optional)
You can also blog (post in a forum) about this contest to get 2 additional entries. Once again, you must leave a comment with the URL of the blogpost. Please don’t spam, or violate rules of the board to promote the contest.
The contest will end on December 18, 2010 at 12:00 Noon IST.
* Under all circumstances my decision shall be final and binding.