Clean up your Windows hard drive with WinDirStat

It's much easier to fill up your hard drive than it is to clean it. With so many folders and directories, how do you pinpoint what's taking up space?

TinyHacker

At purchase, you probably thought your 250GB hard drive would suffice, but heavy use and months later, you get a "low disk space" alert.

Unfortunately, it's much easier to fill up your hard drive than it is to clean it. With so many folders and directories, how do you pinpoint what's taking up space?

WinDirStat, a freeware program for Windows, helps you do just that.

The program scans your hard drives and shows you a detailed summary of what's taking up space on your disk in the form of a colorful graphic. Each file type (MP3, ZIP, EXE, JPEG, etc.) is assigned a color in a collage of squares that are large or small, depending on how much space that file type is using.

Once you pinpoint the storage hogs, WinDirStat allows you to permanently delete the files from within the app.

Follow the slideshow or the written instructions below to get started with WinDirStat.

  1. Download and install WinDirStat. Go with the recommended installation.

  2. Launch WinDirStat and select the drive you want to evaluate. Click "OK," and give the program 5 to 10 minutes to scan your hard disk.

  3. When the scan is complete, you'll be presented with the summary screen. The top half lists files and folders sorted by file size. If you click on a folder or file, the corresponding color block will be highlighted below.

  4. Alternatively, click the large blocks of color to find out which files are taking the most space.

  5. Once you've identified the culprit, right-click the file and choose "Delete (to Recycle Bin)" for later disposal, or "Delete (no way to undelete)" for permanent, irreversible deletion.

Perform this scan in WinDirStat about once a month to clean up any files you no longer need access to. For day-to-day file deletion, follow our instructions for permanently deleting files, as emptying the Recycle Bin still leaves traces of the deleted files on your hard drive.

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