There are a few utilities built into Vista and XP that allow you to monitor hard drive health, like our previous article on how to generate a full system health report. We’ve also covered third party tools like DriveSpacio, and today we’ll walk through using WinDirStat to visualize hard drive space.
Installing WinDirStat is as easy at it gets… the one thing to point out is that if running on legacy systems you want to make sure to check ANSI as a core component.
When first launching WinDirStat you get the option to select All or Individual drives, you can even choose to scan a single folder. For this example I will go ahead and scan my local drive.
While scanning you can view the progress. Check out the cool Pac-Man animations! I am such a sucker for geek nostalgia=)
The scan tool a bit under a minute, and you end up with a nice graphical representation of the files on your hard drive.
WinDirStat has three sections the Directory List, Extension List, and the graphically crazy colored Treemap. The colors on the extension list correspond with the location of the type of file on the Treemap.
Use different view options to change the look of the utility or amount of data shown in the Treemap. When you mouse over a certain section on the Treemap you can choose to clean that file up, look at its properties, or open the directory it is in via Windows Explorer.
Of course there are customizable settings, here is an example of changing the Treemap color patterns.
The Treemap provides the ability to easily go to each directory or individual file on a hard drive. It is also a very nice graphical representation of each type of file extension. If you have ever wondered what files are taking up so much space this will neatly show you the culprit and allow them to be cleaned directly from the GUI. WinDirStat will work on all versions of Windows from 95 up to Vista. This is great for legacy systems still operation that need maintenance.