In this 14th installment in our ongoing Admin Toolkit series, I cover the excellent TreeSize Free disk space analyzer. It comes from Joachim Marder and colleagues at JAM Software, a company based in Trier, Germany. I’d be remiss in failing to observe that JAM also offers two commercial versions of this tool: TreeSize Personal (US$24.95 and up) and TreeSize Professional (US$54.95 and up). For my purposes — and for those of many readers, I’d bet — the free version is quite adequate.
The graphic at the right is called a treemap, and allocates space base on the size of the files it displays. Big blocks are always worth checking out, even if they all can’t be moved elsewhere or deleted.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
A Visual Guide to Disk Space Consumption
As the preceding screen cap is meant to illustrate the graphic layout of files on the scanned disk shows where the “space hogs” (in the developers’ own words) reside. I find this kind of thing immensely helpful for disk grooming. This goes double, or perhaps triple, for the C: drive where Windows, installed applications, and the Users folder (and user account files) customarily reside. TreeSize provides me with a quick look at where the really big files are, and helps me decide on disk cleanup techniques to employ.
Here’s a list of common things I check, to keep disk space consumption under control:
- Size of the Windows folder hierarchy: Once it gets over 24-25 GB, it will usually benefit from cleanup. This includes using the Disk Cleanup utility, Josh Cell’s excellent Uncleaner tool, DriverStore Explorer (aka RAPR.exe) to check for and get rid of obsolete device drivers, and using DISM /cleanup-image to clean up the component store. In prepping for this story, I reduced my Windows folder size from 26.0 GB to the 20.1 GB shown in the preceding screencap.
- Size of the Users folder, especially the primary user account sub-folder: right now, mine is quite large at over 60 GB, but I see upon inspection that I have half-a-dozen Windows images at 3+ GB each, as well as some big .PST files for Outlook (especially my Archive.pst, itself now quite large at 12.5 GB or thereabouts). I don’t see any obvious candidates for deletion, though I should probably relocate Windows images to my L: drive, where I keep a folder just for such things.
- Size of the System Files folder: this shows up as [6 files] in the TreeSize Free listing. It’s where hiberfile.sys, pagefile.sys, swapfile.sys, bootmgr and a couple of 0-byte but important files reside. On systems with the boot/system drive stressed for space, turning off hibernation can indeed recover a sizable chunk of space (12.8 GB, in my case here).
- Size of System Volume Information: if you have enabled restore points for your system drive (as I have, though I seldom use restore points any more thanks to Macrium Reflect), this folder can get pretty big. I cut the size of mine in half — from around 20 to just under 10 GB — in prepping for this article. You can put a ceiling on restore point space in Control Panel → System Protection → Configure, where you can manage its disk space usage directly.
For general disk grooming, look for big blocks in the treemap display, and try to figure out what they’re for and whether you need them or not. You can search for information based on file name and parent directory and get pretty good information that way. I recommend doing this at least once a month, to help keep up with the ongoing onslaught of files and folders acquired in the background while surfing the web, installing apps and applications, and so forth.
Good stuff! [Hint: for a more nuanced view of what’s up in your file system and on your drives, choose “Run as administrator” when using TreeSize Free. It’ll show and tell you more that way.]
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.