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Tracking files stored on multiple unconnected hard drives can be a chore, but indexing and database programs can help even when the hard drive isn’t connected to a computer.
These tools are useful when preparing to transfer data to a NAS device, setting up drives in a custom RAID configuration, or simply remembering what has been stored on hard drive number four at home.
NAS, or Network Attached Storage, provides shared storage that multiple users can access. Since the device is connected to a network, its content can be accessed from anywhere, acting as a private cloud. We recommend NAS as a way to manage and share data with friends and family, and many devices work great with Apple devices.
But, they can be expensive. A more common method of storage that isn’t on a storage-limited internal SSD is simply a stack of flash drives or hard drives.
For example, Spotlight, the built-in search engine for Mac, creates a file system index to make files and folders searchable. But that depends on whether the storage is online and available to the looking Mac.
Keeping track of live disk files is simple with third-party apps, whether they’re hosted on a NAS or kept on separate disks. These apps bring Spotlight-like functionality to hard drives other than the Mac’s drive.
DiskCatalogMaker catalogs media storage devices and can archive content. Icons of disks connected to a Mac can be dragged and dropped into DiskCatalogMaker to start browsing.
It provides batch scan mode to scan multiple drives in an intuitive Finder-like interface. Search by name or other file attributes, search catalogs using Spotlight, and use Boolean AND/OR search expressions to quickly access directories.
DiskCatalogMaker can catalog folders on a network volume and import catalog data from other programs. It is available on the Mac App Store for $69.99 with Family Sharing. Single user licenses are available for $38.99 on the company’s website.
Disk Manager imports disk contents into a database, allowing them to be browsed and searched even offline. It safely backs up file information on disk and can find duplicate files to save storage space. Additionally, it supports password-protected connections.
Like DiskCatalogMaker, Disk Manager accepts rich Boolean search queries to add or exclude files, folders, and disks. It is available in the Mac App Store for $4.99..
Viewing Virtual Volumes
Viewing Virtual Volumes catalogs hard drives, CDs, DVDs and other storage media for offline searching. It combines files and folders into a virtual file system, displaying audio file metadata as well. The application can share the catalog on a network server between Windows, Linux and macOS computers.
Virtual Volumes View stores data in a relational database that can handle millions of rows, but the company promises VVV is fast, even with large catalogs. It reveals the contents of the discs in three views:
- Physical view – This shows the contents of each disc. Folders and files are structured in a traditional directory.
- Virtual view – Data is organized as a virtual file system. Folders can be created and physical volumes and folders can be assigned to a virtual folder. Files can be assigned to multiple virtual folders and virtual folders can contain files stored on different disks.
- Search display – The catalog can be searched for files that meet various criteria.
Virtual Volumes View assures customers that its application is fully contained within its installation folder and will not interfere with the operating system. It is available for free downloadand the source code can also be downloaded and inspected.