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Monthly Freeware Update
This month’s freeware update pulls double duty, both highlighting a series of outstanding freeware utilities and giving you a way to clean up that hard drive that still has those “temporary” text files you made years ago, reminding you to protest the price of gas going over $1.50. (Wow, how old is that file?)
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Cleaning the Hard Drive
Windows comes with a built-in “disk cleaner”, but several third-party system utilities have them as well. The problem is that those utilities can only find and eliminate files that are created and left behind by your system and applications. The files you create, well, there is nothing they can do about those. After all, you are (for now) still the master of your system, and the utilities must respect that you just might actually need the lyrics to Flying Purple People Eater in eleven different places on your hard drive.
Unfortunately, now that Internet browsers allow you to easily delete their temporary files, there probably aren’t a lot of junk files lurking on your PC anymore, at least not compared to the files that are yours. In order to really clean up your disk you will need to get in there and delete those files that you never will need again. But, it is so tedious to go through your directory tree finding an 8KB file here and there inside directories with three or more files each, before moving on to the next directory. What you really need is a way to see which files and directories are actually hogging all that disk space.
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A great tool for determining where your disk space is being used is a disk visualization utility. These utilities allow you to literally see where your hard drive is being filled up, by converting the amount of disk space used by various files and directories into graphical views that are more easily interpreted by the user.
Good tools available in this arena include - WinDirStat, FileFilter, SpaceMonger, SequoiaView, and Scanner.
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How Freeware Makes It Better
This sounds like a simple concept. Heck, you can sort files by size within the regular Windows Explorer. So, what could these tools bring to the table? A lot.
In the next part of this series we'll look at how different freeware developers have taken what is essentially the same concept and implemented it in different ways such that no matter how you would like to manage your disk drive, there is a choice for you.
Monthly Freeware Universe Update
Examining the world of freeware programs and utilities, highlighting some of the best of what's out there and examining the environment for freeware design and development.