Have you ever wondered, while listening to the sound of your hard drive thrashing, What files on my system are being modified? Since I recently had that thought, I decided to investigate.
There’s more than one way to go about this, of course, but I’ll just share the two easiest methods with you.
Using Vista Search
The simplest method that doesn’t require any additional software is to open up Vista’s Search panel (You can hit the F3 key while Windows Explorer is open).
Change the location to your C: drive or whichever drive you are trying to check, set the Date modified to today, and then check the box for “Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files”.
Press the Search button, and then make sure that the Date modified column is showing up in the list. If that column isn’t showing up, you’ll need to add it by right-clicking on the column area, choosing More and then checking the box for it.
You can then just sort by Date Modified descending to see all the recently changed files, which should give you some insight into what your computer is doing behind your back.
Using a Third-Party Tool
A simpler option is to use the Last Changed Files tool, which scans your entire hard drive and shows you just the last 100 changed files. It’s as simple as downloading and opening the application.
There’s no installation required for this tool, but I should note that the GUI is a little flaky, especially while it’s in the middle of searching.