WinDirStat & The Mystery of the Missing Drive Space

Last night my beloved ThinkPad, which is only a few months old, started complaining about lack of disk space. Whilst I know I can be a bit of a hoarder, I shouldn’t really have used 500GB since Christmas, so it was looking like a clean-up was in order.

Cleaning up come local backups solved the immediate problem. However I was still using a lot more space that I really should be, even given that I do synchronise parts of the work network to my laptop for remote working. So where was the space going?

Trying to find it with Windows Explorer

Tracking down the missing GBs in windows explorer is painful beyond practicality. Windows takes an age to calculate the usage in each folder. To even understand which top tier folder the issue was in was going to take far longer than is acceptable for someone as impatient as me.

Enter WinDirStat

WinDirStat is one of those wonderful tools that has a crappy name, looks ugly, but really gets a job done. It’s opensource, so it’s free to download WinDirStat. Running WinDirStat took about 3 or 4 minutes then gave me a wonderful breakdown of not only what folders were eating up my space, but what file types were the culprits. It also has some interesting, but unexplained pacman animations.

A quick look at the key and I can instantly see that the bulk of the usage is coming from .NEF and .JPG files from my camera (the interwoven red and blue blocks) and a large block of MP4 video. Clicking on one of the pink blocks representing the video shows me the location and I can see that all those nice HD videos of SEO stuff that I can’t resist buying from Distilled are another culprit.

Thanks to a great little free tool I now know exactly what I need to do: either trim or prune some of my media collection.

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