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September 23, 2020

Toolkit Item: WizTree


A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about being forced to re-evaluate my recommendation of the venerable WinDirStat as a disk scanning and space analysis tool. The title of that August 14 item explains why: Evaluating Software by Maintenance Effort. Because it’s been over three years since that software has been touched, I am increasingly leery of recommending this tool to users.

So, based on my own experience and copious endorsements from TenForums.com Guru-level regulars, I’m now recommending the Antibody Software freeware/donationware program WizTree (current version 3.33) instead. This program is free for personal use, and requires a donation of US$10-100 for commercial use, with a US$500 for an Enterprise license (as I’m writing this story, I just kicked in US$20).

WizTree Works Much Like WinDirStat

WizTree also offers a nicely colored and shaded treemap of disk layout, much like WinDirStat, as you can see in the lead-in graphic for this story which shows the disk layout for my production PC’s C: (system/boot) drive. I found that right-click launching WizTree with the “Run as Administrator …” option provides a bit more nuanced view of the C: drive than launching with ordinary user privileges (even from an admin login). Apparently, this trick carries over from WinDirStat to WizTree as well. And in fact, WizTree shows me a bit more information about what’s on my C: drive than WinDirStat could do. To wit:

+1: More details on the hidden System Volume Information folder, including a complete hierarchical, drill-down of its contents.
+2: Information about the hidden OneDriveTemp folder, which shows a single GUID object as its contents.
+3: Information about a hidden $Extend folder, which I’ve never even seen before, and now know is part of the NTFS file structure (see this SuperUser item for some interesting discussion).

I can also say that WizTree is much, much faster that WinDirStat on my production PC. It takes WizTree under 3 seconds to get to the Treemap on that machine (its own metric says 2.6 sec). It takes WinDirStat just over 63 seconds to do likewise on the same machine (one gets tired of the cute Pac-Man inspired icons gobbling back and forth in the meantime, to be sure).

My final word is: if you like WinDirStat, you’lll love WizTree. You can use it for free on home/non-commercial machines. And because it’s donation-ware, you can pay as little as you like to use it that way for commercial purposes. As a token of good faith, I’d have to opine that the software is worth a donation of at least US$5.

And FWIW, function key F12 didn’t work for me to prompt the “Enter Supporter Code” window to remove the donate request in the UI. I found an alternative path to that window through the File menu in the program, which includes an “Enter Supporter Code…” entry near the bottom. That worked just fine!

Concluding Note: Chasing Down Release Date for WizTree

I did have a bit of trouble finding the release date for WizTree 3.3. In the end I had to go with the file modification date in the Install folder on my C: drive (C:\Program Files\WizTree): May 13, 2020 as the most likely release date. If the developers read this blog post, I’d ask them to be more transparent and/or forthcoming about that information on their Website. I couldn’t find that data anywhere on the site. They do, however, allow downloads for old versions of WizTree, so I know for a fact that they are attending to the software (2 older updates so far for 2020, 2 for 2019, and 10 for 2018). Because that’s an important criterion in making this recommendation to replace WinDirStat I’m glad to be able to see that much, indeed!

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.

4 Responses “Toolkit Item: WizTree”

  1. September 21, 2020 at 13:57

    Hi Ed
    Directory Report was last updated Aug 30, 2020
    It looks just like the MS-Explorer but always shows the folder size
    Much easier to use than the eye-candy treemap used by WinDirStat

    • September 22, 2020 at 22:59

      Thanks for sharing that recommendation. I’ll have to check it out. –Ed–

  2. Anonymous
    September 22, 2020 at 04:40

    Binary man scours the internet for any references to disk space analyzers and always posts about Directory Report.

    • September 22, 2020 at 22:58

      Good to know, thanks! I hadn’t heard of Directory Report before, and this may provide some clue as to why. Still need to write about TreeSize Free, though…
      –Ed–

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