So, you bought yourself a new 2 TB hard drive thinking, “I’ll never use this much space.” Well, think again. It’s amazing how fast photos, videos, music, and other files start to use up any hard drive space we have.
Then, you think, “How am I going to sort through all these files and figure out what is taking up the most space?” Luckily, we’ve gathered information about 10 free tools to help you do just that.
NOTE: please be careful when downloading and installing freeware, as the installers often attempt to bundle crapware and adware. Make sure to read each screen very carefully.
Editor’s Note: WinDirStat is a great tool and is usually our first choice for figuring out where our drive space went to.
When WinDirStat (Download from Ninite) starts, it reads the whole directory tree once and presents it in three useful views. The directory list, which resembles the tree view in Windows Explorer, displays on the upper left and is sorted by file/subtree size.
The extension list is a legend that displays on the upper right and shows statistics about the different files types.
The treemap takes up the bottom of the WinDirStat window. Each colored rectangle represents a file or directory, and the rectangles are nested, representing subdirectories and files within the directories. The area of each rectangle is proportional to the size of the files or subtrees. The colors of the rectangles for files indicate the file extensions that correspond to the extension list.
SpaceSniffer is a portable, freeware program that helps you understand the structure of the folders and files on your hard drives. The Treemap visualization layout SpaceSniffer uses helps you to immediately visualize where big folders and files are placed on your devices. The area of each rectangle is proportional to that file’s size. You can double-click on any item to see more detail.
If you’re searching for specific file types, such as all .jpg files, or for files older than a year, or any other condition, use the Filter field to limit the results to only those files. For help with how to use the filtering feature, select Filtering help from the Help menu.
TreeSize Free allows you to start the program normally or from the context menu for a folder or a drive. It shows you the size of the selected folder, including its subfolders. The tree is like Windows Explorer in that you can expand every subfolder within the selected folder or drive and drill down to the file level. The results are visible as TreeSize Free scans the selected folder or drive.
You can download TreeSize Free as a portable program or as an installable file. To get the option on the context menu, you must download the installable file and install the program.
Disktective is a free, portable utility that reports the real size of your directories and the distribution of the subdirectories and files inside them. You are asked to select a directory or drive when Disktective opens. The selected folder or drive is analyzed and a tree view displays on the left side of the window and a pie chart with percentages displays on the right.
Because Disktective doesn’t need to be installed, you can take it with you on a USB flash drive to analyze the flash drive or any Windows computer you come across.
DiskSavvy is a fast, easy-to-use disk space analyzer that allows you to analyze disk usage for your hard disks, network share drives, and NAS storage devices. The main window shows you the percentage of disk space used by each directory and file. You can also easily view pie charts or bar charts showing the results in graphical format.
DiskSavvy is available as a freeware version, a Pro version, and an Ultimate version, each successive version providing additional features. The freeware version allows for a maximum number of files of 500,000 and a maximum storage capacity of 2 TB. It has support for long filenames, Unicode filenames, and UNC network path names and allows you to copy, move, and delete files directly within the program.
JDiskReport is another free tool that presents an analysis of the selected folder or drive as a pie chart, ring chart, bar chart, or in a detailed table. Click the Scan a file tree button (magnifying glass) on the toolbar to select a drive or folder and start the scan. The Folders tree view in the left pane presents a Windows Explorer-like tree allowing you to easily access all the subfolders in the selected folder or drive. Multiple tabs at the top of the right pane provide different ways to view the results of the scan. Each tab also has options at the bottom for additional different views. There are buttons on the toolbar that allow you to sort by size or name and to show the file size or number of files on the selected tab as appropriate.
For each folder in the selected folder or drive, GetFoldersize displays the total size for all the files in that folder or drive and the number of files and subfolders within the folder or drive. You can use GetFoldersize to scan an unlimited number of files and folders on internal and external hard drives, CDs and DVDs, and network share drives. It supports long file and folder names and Unicode characters and the ability to display the file size in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes. GetFoldersize allows you to print the folder tree and to save the folder tree and information to a text file.
GetFoldersize is available in a portable version, so you can carry it around with you on a USB flash drive or other external drive. However, if you install GetFoldersize, an option is added to the context menu in Windows Explorer allowing you to start GetFoldersize and scan a folder by right-clicking on it.
RidNacs is a fast disk space analyzer that scans local drives, network drives, or a single directory and shows the results in a tree view with a bar chart displaying percentages. You can save the results of the scan in multiple formats (.txt, .csv, .html, or .xml). Files can be opened and deleted directly within RidNacs. During installation, you can choose to add an option to the Windows Explorer context menu that allows you to right-click on a folder or drive, open RidNacs, and start a scan on the selected folder or drive immediately. When you scan a folder, it’s added to the list of Favorites under a list of available drives on your computer. You can also change the look of the bars on the bar chart with skins.
Scanner uses an extended pie chart with concentric rings to display the usage of the space on your hard drive, external drive, network drive, etc. The outer segments of the rings represent deeper directory levels. Moving your mouse over a segment of the chart displays the full path at the top of the window and the size of the directory and the number of files in the directory below the path. Right-clicking on a segment provides additional options. The Zoom option allows you to zoom into the selected directory and is also available by clicking on the segment. You can also Open, Recycle (delete by moving to the Recycle Bin), and Remove and file or directory directly within Scanner.
Scanner comes with two .reg files that allow you to add Scanner to the Windows Explorer context menu and remove it again. It is a portable program and comes with two text files (one of them in English) that describes the usage of the program.
Free Disk Analyzer
Free Disk Analyzer displays a tree of all your drives on the left like Windows Explorer, allowing you to drill down to deeper folders and files. The right side of the window displays all the subfolders and files in the currently selected folder or drive, the size and the percentage of disk space each subfolder and file uses. Free Disk Analyzer also displays your disk usage as a pie chart at the bottom of the right side of the window. Tabs at the bottom of the right side of the window allow you to view the contents of the selected folder or drive or view the largest files or largest folders. Click the column headings to sort by different criteria. You can also manage your files directly within the program and view, open, delete, copy, and move files the same as you would in Windows Explorer.
For additional ideas on how to regain hard disk space in Windows 7, see our article about simple tips to reduce disk usage. Two Windows files, pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys, take up a lot of room on your hard drive. You can’t delete pagefile.sys, but you can delete the hiberfil.sys file and also learn more about it.