It seems like no matter how big a hard drive is, it always gets full in no time and you are left wondering where did all that space go. If you start to look around, you will be surprised to see how many unwanted things you hold on your disk, but if you want to find those space hogs that occupy the bulk of your hard drive, then you will need some help.
If you don’t know for sure where all of your space went, then you might want to use a dedicated software that will sniff out any space hog on your hard drive and show you exactly how much space each folder takes. This is very helpful, as Windows doesn’t show how much a folder occupies unless you view the properties.
Check out the usual suspects first
While this option is time consuming and sometimes boring, some old-school computer users still prefer it over automated options. Both Windows and Mac OS X users can check out how much each file and folder occupies and deletes the old and unused ones.
Also, if you know where the usual space hogs lurk, you go at them directly. Take for example the “Temp” folders that keeps all those temporary files, but forget to delete them and they keep piling up. If you don’t know where the Temp folder is located, navigate to C:\Users\<your_user>\AppData\Local\Temp and delete the content of the folder, but not the folder itself.
Also, other folders will keep information for a long time, such is the case of the “Downloads” folder, where by default, all downloads from the web are saved. Many forget to clean the contents of this folder, and after a time, it will occupy quite a lot of space. To find this folder, navigate to C:\Users\<your_user>\Downloads and you will see all the downloaded files.
Apart from these usual space hogs, each of us uses a different sorting system for files, and your other partitions might be affected by files you keep collecting and don’t delete. If you want to see exactly how much each folder occupies, then all you need to do is right click on it and select “Properties“, in that window, you will see the number of files the folder contains and exactly how much space it takes on the drive.
Additionally, Windows users can benefit from the integrated search feature. Just type in the upper right corner of the screen, in the search bar “size: >1GB” and you will see all the files that are over that size. Keep in mind that you can modify the size to any value, be it MB or GB.
Note: Mac OS X users have the same option, with the name “Get Info”
While this method is pretty easy to use for those that have a very organized hard drive, some might find it too hard, especially when they have lots of folders within other folders and so on. For them, the best way to find the space hogs on their hard drive is to use a dedicated tool that will show them exactly how much each folder occupies.
Dedicated tools for finding space hogs on your hard drive
There are a few programs that are designed for the purpose of allowing users to see what folders on their hard drives are occupying the most space. These can be a great way to monitor your hard drive and always see where all that space goes. Here are a few examples of such programs that can help you discover space hogs on your hard drive.
This is one of the simplest and easy to use programs you can get your hands on. TreeSize Free is a tiny tool that will analyze your partitions and give you an indication of how much each folder occupies. The simple interface allows users to quickly browse folder trees from any partition.
Selecting the partition you want to scan can be done from the menu at the top of the window, and the entire process is finished in seconds. The size of each folder is shown in MB and for complex folder trees, the program can auto-expand folders up to level 6.
If you don’t like the plain interface of TreeSize Free, then SpaceSniffer is a close second for a good program to find space hogs on your hard drive. It is also a small-weight software that will allow you to scan any partition on hard drive and get a graphical look at how your folders are arranged. Although the graphic interface looks awesome, especially in the scanning mode, at a point, it will become hard to see.
After the process if finished, you will see all your folders in box-shapes, showing the name and its size. By clicking on it, you will go one level down and see its containing folders. Also, by clicking on tiny header of each box, you will open just that one and keep on navigating. While SpaceSniffer is another excellent program for finding space hogs on your hard drive, if you have complex folder trees, it will become confusing at some point.
WinDirStat is a favorite for many users due to its simple interface and ease of use. Users will only have to select the partitions that they want scanned and wait a few seconds as the program will scan every folder and file. Once the scan is complete, you will see a graphic representation of the folder tree, which boxes of sizes relative to their disk size.
Clicking on a box will show you the exact file it represents and you can delete it directly from within WinDirStat. While this is fairly easy for large files, if you have lots of small files tucked away in distant folders, it won’t be as easy to find them using WinDirStat. Nevertheless, it is a awesome tool and we highly recommend it.
Even though SpaceMonger saw its final release back in 2006, it still remains a valid program that anyone can use to see exactly what’s eating up their precious hard drive space. The program has old-school look to it, but you will see that it’s rather simple to use it.
Once you’ve installed it, you will have to scan your partitions and after the process is complete, you will see all the information on file sizes arranged neatly in a pie-chart, and from the top of the result window, you can see a tree treemap that can be zoomed into with your mouse wheel. Overall, SpaceMonger is easy to use and shows relevant results in a matter of seconds.
If you are aiming for both functionality and good looks, DiskSpaceFan is a program that will show you a graph of your partition, where you can see all your files and which of them occupy the most. Also, the program can find duplicate files and alert you.
The user interface of DiskSpaceFan is simple and looks great, scan times are very fast and it needs few resources to run. The graph is easily read and the program will remember the results when you scan multiple partitions, so you can go back and forth between them. Keep in mind that this is not a free program, but you do benefit of a 15-day trial.
If simplicity is your thing, and you only wish to view your folder trees and how much they occupy, FolderSize is a good tool. It’s simple interface allows users to quickly find what they are looking for, but the downside is that you must copy and paste in the path of the drive you want to scan.
While the program doesn’t go much past showing you what folders you have and how much they occupy, its very short scan time and ease of use make it a good tool for those that want to get an idea of what fills up their hard drive.
Other programs to find space hogs on Mac OS X and Linux
While the programs shown above are great choices for Windows users, there are other programs that can be used on different platforms. They work pretty much the same way and apart from a different view over the folder trees, they offer users the same functionality.
- OmniDiskSweeper – Mac OS X
- DaisyDisk – Mac OS X
- Disk Inventory X – Mac OS X
- GrandPerspective – Mac OS X
- KDirStat – Linux
With the help of these tools, you will always be able to keep an eye out for big files that take up a lot of room on your hard drive. Also, to ensure your hard drive’s health, be sure to use some repair tools.