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Tech Tips

Computer Cleanup Part 1 – Where’s My Disk Space Going?

By James Wise
web posted April 6, 2009
TECH TIPS – I’ve received several emails from readers lately about computer cleanup so I thought it might be good to start a series of columns on this topic. Today, we’ll talk about how you can use a free program called WinDirStat to quickly see what is taking up space on your computer.

Installing WinDirStat

1)    If you want to read up on the program, go to: http://windirstat.info/. A download link is located about half way down on the page (or you can just click here to download the program directly).
2)    When prompted, run this file (or save it to your hard drive and run it from there)
3)    Check the box for accepting the license terms and click Next
4)    Click Next
5)    Click Install
6)    Click Next
7)    Click Close

Using WinDirStat

1)    When you first install the program, it should automatically start after the installation is complete. At other times, you can run it using start, all programs, WinDirStat.
2)    If you want to check a specific drive or folder, you can choose that drive or folder. For most users though, I recommend to choose All Local Drives and click OK.
3)    The program then takes a few minutes to analyze your drive. After it’s complete, you’ll have a screen showing your root directories (the ones immediately below the drive including how much space is used by each (and how many files they contain).

In my case, my “data” directory is using up most of my space. There’s also a graphical section indicating space used (color coded by file type). but I don’t typically use that.
4)    To see more details about a directory (including “drilling down” within it to check subdirectories), just double click that folder. After you open a folder, you can close it by double clicking it once more.
5)    If you find something you would like to delete, just click on it and click the delete key. Be careful though and ONLY DELETE FILES YOU KNOW YOU DON’T NEED. I would strongly discourage deleting any files from the “Windows” directory.

I didn’t make a video of this program because I figured it was easy to use and that the instructions above would be sufficient. If you would like a video though or more detailed instructions with screenshots, please email me at edgefieldtechhelp@gmail.com. You can also checkout a video I found on youtube that someone else made by going to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr5bodZEFus

Coming Soon

In future columns in this series, we’ll talk about:
1)    How to remove old or unused programs from your computer with control panel, add/remove programs
2)    Programs to help cleanup unnecessary files (i.e. files placed on your computer as you browse the Internet) such as CCleaner

Don’t worry, we will be coming back to backups in the future as well with a few more columns. 

Do you have a tech question you would like answered or a program you would like to recommend? Email me at edgefieldtechhelp@gmail.com. For computer questions, please include your operating system version (e.g. Windows Vista) and sorry, but I don’t do Macs.

Disclaimer: Software, tips, and links provided are used at the risk of the reader.


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WEBNEWS –  Send in your favorite or favorites. There is no limit to the number of recipes you can send in. With the Editor’s wife being the driving force behind her own personal section, help her create an exchange of local favorites, home cooking, grilling, sauces, and deserts!  Send in your submissions here.