Harddrive Cleanup with WinDirStat
Have you tried to save files to your hard drive, only to find that you have run out of space, then when you go to delete something, you can’t find what is taking up all of the space on your hard drive? WinDirStat is a hard disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for various version of Microsoft Windows. You can find it for free at https://windirstat.info/. There are alternatives for other Operating Systems as well, such as KDirStat for Linux, or Disk Inventory X or GrandPerspective on MacOS X.
When you start the application, a window will prompt you to choose the drive you want to explore. It then reads the whole directory tree once and presents it into three views:
- The directory list, which resembles the tree view of the Windows Explorer but is sorted by file/subtree size,
- The tree map, which shows the whole contents of the directory tree straight away,
- The extension list, which serves as a legend and shows statistics about the file types.
The treemap represents each file as a colored rectangle. Bigger rectangles represent bigger files. The rectangles are arranged in such a way, that directories again make up rectangles, which contain all their files and subdirectories. Their area is proportional to the size of the subtrees. The color of a rectangle indicates the type of the file, as shown in the extension list. The cushion shading additionally brings out the directory structure. It can be a little confusing to look at the treemap at first, because it just looks like a bunch of colored squares in varying sizes. There is a legend with each extension, color and description to help as well.
For most users, you will typically run the program and look for the biggest files on your PC that you don’t need. Simply click on the biggest rectangles in the treemap and it will automatically show you the name of the file, where it is stored on your PC, how big it is, the last time a change was made to it, etc. Then you can make the choice of whether or not it is a file that you want to keep. This may require some research on your end – make sure you aren’t deleting anything that your computer may need to keep running! Do a quick google search and, if you still aren’t sure, assume that if you don’t know what something is, you should just leave it until you can ask someone who knows more about it.