I just reclaimed over 57 gigabytes of storage capacity on my Windows Media Center Edition desktop. How did I do it? I needed some help, actually. The 250 GB drive was only showing about 60 GB free and I knew full well that I didn’t have any recorded HDTV on the drive; the biggest consumer of space on that box. So what the heck was going on? Where was all my free space? I did the standard bit of nosing around through Windows Explorer, but ironically finding tens of gigs of used space in the folder hierarchy was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Enter Visual Directory Explorer (aka: VisDir), a small bit of freeware that graphically displays your file system’s usage.
VisDir is a small executable; barely a megabyte, weighing in around 915 Kb after installation. For such a small package, it packs a huge punch by quickly scanning the drive or drives of your choice. My 250 GB drive contains over 5,200 unique folders and VisDir can scan them and display the usage in about 15 seconds. The result of the scan is a usage graph of drive’s capacity, in either pie, horizontal or vertical bar. The graph appears on the right side of the GUI, while the folder structure appears on the left. You can expand or contract the folder structure as needed to graphically display the relative amount of storage used in a folder or a sub-folder. You can also navigate by directly clicking on the appropriate folder in the pie chart. Hovering over any piece of the pie or graph causes the status bar (at the bottom of the GUI) to show the current folder name as well as how much space it takes.
I was sleuthing on my drive manually for about 15 minutes to find out what was taking up so much space. After only two minutes with VisDir, I found a folder that had over 57 GB of recorded television. This data should have been removed when I uninstalled the DTV capture program a few days ago, but clearly it wasn’t. Additionally the folder was buried so deep in the drive structure, it would have taken me much longer to find manually.
Even if you don’t think you have any chunks of data just wasting space on your hard drive, consider a free download of VisDir; just navigating through your drive with it can be very enlightening! Visual Directory Explorer works with Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, and XP.