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September 23, 2020

Evaluating Software by Maintenance Effort


I’ll admit it. I’m a long-time and big fan of the SourceForge project WinDirStat. So when I saw a TenForums post yesterday that steered readers away from that program and toward Jam Software’s TreeSize Free instead, I bristled. As it happens, both of those programs use similar methods to create similar displays of files on disk to help users identify and deal with space hogs. The TenForums poster argued that the latter program was better, because (a) it was more accurate and (b) it continues to be updated and maintained (its changelog shows the most recent version 4.4.2 went live on June 4, 2020). Much to my consternation and surprise, a quick visit to WinDirStat.net confirmed that it has not been updated since 2016(!).

Looks Aren’t Everything, Indeed

I have to confess that I prefer WinDirStat mostly for its gorgeous looks and its vibrant color scheme (it appears at the left in the lead-in graphic for this story). To me, TreeSize Free’s more muted color scheme and visual impact are nowhere near as nice to look at (it appears to the right in that same lead-in graphic). But the information the two programs convey is nearly identical. I’ve even used WinDirStat often enough to know that the TenForums poster’s gripe about accuracy (which he cites as another reason to prefer TSF over WDS) is easily addressed by right-clicking windirstat.exe and electing “Run as administrator” from the pop-up context menu.

But I have to concede that ongoing attention, development, and bug fixes do mean something to Windows users. Thus, now that I’m getting over my initial reaction, I’m coming around to the point of view that software needs regular maintenance to remain relevant and useful to Windows users.

Only one Windows 10 version appeared in 2016 — namely Version 1607, whose release date occurred just a little over 4 years ago on August 2, 2016. That’s a pretty long time ago, in Windows 10 terms, with 7 subsequent feature updates released since then. It may just be worth considering when it comes to choosing a disk space consumption analysis tool that TreeSize Free is indeed much more current than is WinDirStat. And the longer WinDirStat goes without attention, the worse the disparity between the two programs becomes.

I’ve already picked both programs for the Admin Toolkit here at Win10.Guru. I’m going to have to add a note to the end of the WinDirStat story, warning readers that it hasn’t been updated since its release in 2016, and let them draw their own conclusions — and choose their own tools accordingly. Sigh.

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

2 Responses “Evaluating Software by Maintenance Effort”

  1. August 18, 2020 at 18:10

    You should try Directory Report
    Its last update is April 23, 2020

    • August 27, 2020 at 18:55

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll give it a look. I’ve already recommended WizTree (Antibody Software) as a pretty reasonable alternative in a recent post (“Admin toolkit item: WizTree”). Thanks again, –Ed–

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