How To: Spring Cleaning for Your Drives

The Second Wave

While CCleaner and Disk Cleanup provide a nice, easy way of mass-deleting files that are known to be of no use, what about files that aren't covered? Where do you start looking? One tool that's really handy for finding out what files and even directories are taking up space is WinDirStat. This tool will analyze your drives and creates a graphical representation of their contents.

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An output of WinDirStat. Each of these blocks represents a file. Groups of blocks are folders.

You can also use a duplicate file finder app to weed out unnecessary files. While basic ones only perform file name and checksum comparisons, more advanced versions can check for similarity, such as if you have two image files that are the same, but maybe one has different dimensions.

One free tool that you can use to search for exact and similar duplicate files is Anti-Twin.

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The feature that makes it stand out among other duplicate file finders is that it comes with a content-compare option. This isn't limited to images, either. For example, you can use it to compare MP3 files by their ID3 tags, by lowering the "Match min" threshold a bit.

Odds and Ends

Here are some tips to help you free up disk space.

Reduce the Size of the Page File
By default, Windows allocates the page file (where chunks of memory are stored if RAM gets too full) on the C: drive and takes up about 1–1.5 times the amount of RAM in your system. Here's how to make changes to the size of your page file.

1. Go to Control Panel > System and Security > System
2. On the left pane, click "Advanced system settings"

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3. Click the "Settings..." button in the Performance section.

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4. In the "Advanced" tab, click the "Change..." button in the "Virtual memory" section.

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5. Make sure "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives" isn't ticked.
6. Select the drive that holds the page file you want to change(usually it's just the C: drive), and tick the "Custom size" radio button.
7. Set the initial and maximum size to 1024.
8. Do this for your other drives or select "No paging file," if needed.
9. Press "Set," then "OK" to save.

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10. Restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

Do not completely disable the page file. Some programs will not work correctly or will complain.

Turn Off Hibernate

Hibernate is only really useful for two things:

You're on a laptop and you don't want to lose your system state even if the battery runs dry in standby mode.
You want to take advantage of Windows 8's Fast Boot feature

Otherwise, Windows keeps a file for hibernating that can be as large as the amount of RAM you have in the system. Thankfully, Microsoft provides a tool that can enable or disable hibernate on their support page: