For almost all Windows users, the time eventually comes when you need to free up space on your hard drive or drives.
Unless you’re unusually well organized, the task of finding unwanted files can be a nightmare. WinDirStat is a small, open-source utility that can help.
There are dozens of applications that can help with finding and removing obsolete and duplicate files. But while I was researching the March 19 Best Utilities story on Autoruns, one of my sources recommended the lesser-known WinDirStat, an app that inventories your entire storage system and lets you easily and effectively remove unwanted files and directories. Here’s a review of this capable tool.
A word of caution: Before using any application that can make significant changes to your system, we recommend making a full backup of the system.
Finding big files and folders quickly
As with many good utilities, WinDirStat (Windows Directory Statistics; site) can be either fully installed or run directly from an executable (a portable version). A Download.com page offers both versions.
When you launch the program, you’re presented with a simple dialog box (Figure 1) for selecting all drives, specific drives, or a single folder to inventory. Note that the C: drive is selected by default.
When you select a drive and click OK, the main WinDirStat window appears and the tool immediately begins searching the selected drives, folders, and files (see Figure 2). As WinDirStat runs its inventory, it displays a green overall progress bar at the bottom and uses roving Pac-Man-like characters to show specifically which folders are being examined. WinDirStat is relatively fast, but — depending on the size of your drive — the full inventory could take some minutes.