Analyze disk space usage and delete files to increase free space using WinDirStat

What would I ever do with this space?
I am not going to rip all my music CDs and keep them on the hard disk!
Low disk space error message on Windows
Low disk space error message on Windows

And then we get that dreaded pop-up balloon from the tray saying low disk space. Well, shit happens!

And while purchasing it, you wondered why would you ever need a 500 GB hard disk. Turns out, over a long time, your operating system or your software may end up doing what you resolved not to do–that is, fill up your disk space.

Many tools are available for analysis of disk usage. However, after trying a good number of those, I have settled for WinDirStat (WDS for short) for years now.

From its Wikipedia entry:

WinDirStat is a graphical disk usage analyzer for Microsoft Windows, notable for presenting a sub-tree view with disk use percentage alongside a usage-sorted list of file extensions that is interactively integrated with a colorful graphical display (a treemap).

Let me just share some salient points of WDS below:

  • WinDirStat allows you to not just identify the large files, but also delete them using something called ‘built-in cleanup actions’.
  • And all this while remaining extremely user-friendly. The generated views are sorted by file size, so that one can focus on the biggest offenders 🙂
  • Statistics about the file types help in quickly identifying the offending file types, as well.
  • It is completely free and available as a portable app too.

As an example, check below, an analysis my Windows 7 64-bit installation, which is ~1 year old now. 22.5 GB in just the Windows folder? Holy shit MicroSoft!

Space taken by Windows folder on Win7
Space taken by Windows folder on Win7

Find all FrameMaker files that use a particular image

We know how to find all the graphics used in a FM file. What if you want to find all the FM files using a particular image, screenshot, graphic, or artwork?

Say, an element of your UI has changed and you have to publish only those documents which use that screenshot.

Say, you want to change description of an artwork that is used in a few documents.

On a local copy of your files you can quickly search for such documents using the illustrated method. Besides native FrameMaker files, this method works on XML and other text files too.

You can download Ultra File Search from its homepage.

Do away with data copying hassles on Windows

Read on if you relate the following scenarios:

  • A copy operation you started is hung.
  • There are many small files so the copy is sluggish.
  • In a folder, some files are present on destination, while some are to be copied. You don’t want to overwrite (it takes more time) and you also don’t want to manually look through folders.
  • Electricity went off or you had to close the operation mid-way, even though copying is not finished. Your copying operation is incomplete.
  • You’ve run a copy operation; it is taking up a lot of system resource; you have left the machine running and are attending other chores; suddenly you want to use the system quickly for a min but it is taking forever to even open mail because of the resource-hungry copy operation. Now you want to pause the copy operation!

Use Teracopy.

  • To copy data in bulk. It copied faster using buffers and multiple threads. It copies asynchronously.
  • If something erroneous happens while copying TeraCopy handles it gracefully. It’ll try copying over and over but will time out, skip the file and get going with other files in the queue.
  • You can pause the copying (and later resume it).
  • A simulation will tell you the difference between source and destination.

I have used TeraCopy and RichCopy (by MicroSoft), and they have served me well, former being less intrusive 🙂

What do you use for bulk file copying?

Better and more powerful file search in Windows

If you want to search:

  • in multiple drives and folders simultaneously
  • for file(s) containing a word/sentence
  • by adding case-sensitivity to your search keyword
  • files created within a specific date range
  • and then export the results in a text, HTML, or Excel file

then read on…

With every thing going digital, the amount of data is exploding. With that is the importance of search. We all desire a more powerful search experience, not just on the web, but on the desktop too. Yet most of us don’t look beyond the default Windows search. In my opinion, search cannot get more dumbed-down than Windows XP/7 file search.

UltraFileSearch search utility
UltraFileSearch search utility

UltraFileSearch (download here) is a great utility which addresses all the issues, as well as, your wish list 🙂 Check these screenshots to see its options and some of the possible scenarios in which you can use it. It is available in a portable version too, which you can use without installing. Now that’s a lot of horsepower for a 1 MB utility!

More file syncing software to keep your data updated on different machines

Update, Sep 27, 2011: I have finally settled for Synkron. I feel it is the best amongst these.
Update, Sep28, 2017: Synkron continues to serve all my use cases across all these years.

I just posted praise for FullSync here. While FullSync may not be the best tool for file syncing, it works great for me across multiple use cases and edge cases. At the same time, I have come across other software to do the same task. I’ve tried some of these software for a few weeks to compare the usability and found these to be great. Specifically, Always Sync, SyncToy, and SyncBack are nice-to-know options. They can sync data over a local network too.

Dropbox and Adobe Creative Cloud file sync work by uploading your data to a cloud. So these work across geographies. Such software also use Internet bandwidth and are not the most suitable options to transfer files available locally on a LAN.