Find Out Where Your Hard Drive Space Has Gone
All versions of Windows contain the basic Explorer file manager – although people may know it as (My) Computer. Whilst it lets you browse your hard drive(s) and see folders and files stored there, it does not offer any way to easily see how much space each folder or subfolder takes up.
Such a feature can be really helpful in several situations:
- If you are running out of hard drive space you will want to quickly find big (but not essential) folders and files which you can delete/move to another hard drive to free up space.
- If you have stored a large number of files (e.g. videos) in a folder and don’t know where they are located, viewing folders by size should help you find them quickly.
- If you want to backup your documents and important files it helps to know how much storage space they take up so you can choose a backup storage that is big enough.
WizTree Main Features – a free program which is available as a standard installation or as a Portable version – ideal for putting onto a flash drive to carry between computers.
Speed – the drive scanning is incredibly quick compared to similar utilities. In my own tests the scan completed in 1.13 seconds – my previous favorite such utility (TreeSize Free) took over 30 seconds to scan the same drive.
Tree View – this standard view sorts the selected hard drive by size of folder – from largest to smallest. It is very similar to the layout of programs like TreeSize etc.
Top 1000 Largest Files – this scan is completed at the same time as the Tree View and is a great way to identify ‘big hitter’ files taking up the most space.
Compatibility – works on 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.
The example below shows the Tree View layout of a typical Windows hard drive – you can easily see that the various User folders take up the most space (as expected), followed by Windows and Program Files:
This view shows you exactly where the hard drive space has gone e.g. 8GB in a folder called ‘photos’ which has been created at the root of C: drive (probably by mistake) instead of in the user’s ‘Pictures’ folder.
You can further expand each folder (by clicking on the plus sign next to it) in Explorer-like style so you can immediately see the total size of each subfolder. You can even drill down further to the individual file level to see if there is one huge file you had forgotten about e.g. a video/DVD file or a particular game that could use up 20GB or more.
Limitation Of WizTree – due to the way in which it achieves such quick scanning speeds (it reads the hard drive’s Master File Table (MFT) directly from the disk), WizTree can only work with local (i.e. not network) drives formatted with the NTFS file system. This should be fine for most Windows computers as NTFS is the standard formatting for XP through to Windows 8.
WizTree can therefore scan most external USB hard drives too (as they are usually formatted with NTFS). However, USB flash drives are usually pre-formatted with FAT32 so can’t be scanned – if the drive is larger than 8GB you may find it worthwhile to convert it to NTFS.
Download WizTree – download from the official site here – note there is a Portable Zip link just below the main download button. Once installed, choose which NTFS drive you want to scan or press the Scan button to begin – it starts building a picture of the drive immediately and takes just a few seconds to complete, depending on the drive size and PC speed.
It is well worth running WizTree to get a better insight into where your hard drive space is going – it offers the same functionality as similar utilities but has much quicker performance and adds the ‘Top 1000 files’ option too. It is a shame that Microsoft don’t include such a useful feature within Windows itself.