Windows has a handy little pie graph in the Properties window of a hard drive that tells you how much free space is left. That seems to be relatively useless information. It tells you the percent of the drive that is free but that’s it. It doesn’t tell you what is really chomping away at your free space.
Alternatively, there are a handful of software utilities out there that will give you a breakdown of what folders are consuming your free space. You can then follow these folders, just like you would in a My Computer window, to the culprit files.
After reviewing a few of the possible programs, based on screenshots and feature lists, I chose to go with Size Explorer Free. It is free for home & personal use. The only downside with the free version is that it has an advertisement that makes you wait a few seconds after you close it. The professional version also has a few more features available in it, like a command-line interface.
If you’re running out of space on your hard drive, you want to be able to track down the biggest files to evaluate if they’re really worth keeping. Deleting the big files is much more effective and a lot less work than tracking down hundreds of tiny files that you don’t need.
Size Explorer Free is able to handle mapped drives perfectly fine. Instead of running on all drives and all folders as soon as you open the program, it waits for you to ‘explore’ the directories you want. This way it’s not doing anything unnecessary and wasting any time. To explore the directories you want, just right-click and go to Explore. This will initiate an investigation into the file sizes of all sub-directories and files. It will take a little time, depending on the size of the drive and the number of files on it. You can see from the screenshot above that my desktop consumes some of the largest file space on my hard drive. Drilling down, I was able to find a directory with a lot of files in it that was taking up the chunk of space. Moving this directory to external storage efficiently freed up a lot of space on my internal hard drive.
You can also generate reports with pie charts to visually display which directories are taking up the most space. This is nice eye candy, but you can gather the same information from the main window with the ‘% of Parent’ column; a nice extra feature none the less. It might come in handy if you’re trying to convince some one that they are using too much file space. Just whip out the pie chart and show them that two-thirds of your SAN has gone to their music collection instead of work-related files.
Download Size Explorer Free.