Thursday, 22 January 2009

Warning: Disk Full

Periodically Windows warns me that I'm running out of disk space. Usually I know why (a large experiment or some video editing) but now and again I find myself at a loss as to where the space has gone. When this happens I turn to a useful piece of free software called WinDirStat.

The author describes WinDirStat as a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows. It is the viewer aspect of the tool that I find exceptionally useful. The phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" is certainly true when it comes to tracking down stray large files on a computer. Rather than hunting through the folders on your computer one by one trying to find the problem one glance at the treemap in this tool makes it clear what is using up the disk space. For those of you who like the details the treemap is described as follows:
The treemap represents each file as a colored rectangle, the area of which is proportional to the file's size. The rectangles are arranged in such a way, that directories again make up rectangles, which contain all their files and subdirectories. So their area is proportional to the size of the subtrees. The color of a rectangle indicates the type of the file, as shown in the extension list. The cushion shading additionally brings out the directory structure.
It turns out that WinDirStat is actually a port of KDirStat for Linux. As a Windows user I haven't tried KDirStat but assuming it is as good as the Windows version then I'd certainly suggest having a look if you are using Linux.

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