Thursday, July 27, 2006

Analyzing disk space

Know Thy Disk Space

Agreed, hard disks are becoming bigger and bigger as days are passing and your worry about hard disk’s space is a thing of past. Nevertheless, then things like OS and applications are also becoming bigger. For example, Windows XP home addition requires more than one GB hard disk space to install. Further, there are MP3 music and video files, your family album photos and all other data you have collected over time needs hard disk space. These junks quickly filled up your hard disk and you never know which directory is eating your hard disk space. Over the LAN, it is extremely essential to know who is using what amount of hard disk space. The RAID arrays installed in servers required to get analysed for load balancing, hard disk usage etc. Well, it is now clear that it may be not necessary to know how much hard disk space is used since the space is real cheap these days, but you can’t traverse the benefit in knowing how the hard disk space is used.

There are many ways you can analyse your hard disk usage in variety of environment. Yet, the better way is to use some simple freeware/shareware applications that are designed primarily to give you information about hard disk usage and occasionally, providing you some extra tools like capability to delete or remove a directory etc. These applications are small, but proved great in hard disk space management tasks like managing and analyzing hard disk space and shared user space on the LAN. Further, they present your hard disk file / folder statistics in variety of ways like tables, pie/rectangular graph, rectangular segments etc. for clear, instant information. You may find couple of a dozen such tools for Windows / Linux and other platform that have their own merits / demerits. Among them, some such tools had reviewed here for you so that you can rearrange things in your hard disk more efficiently.

jDiskReport

This java-based freeware application has cross platform compatibility and can retrieve hard disk usage information from platform like Windows, Linux, Unix, OSX etc. To run this application, you need to install Java runtime environment in your computer. jDiskReport is distributed in variety of ways. There is Windows based application installer for jDiskReport , which is easy to install and run. It creates right click context menu on start button after installation. Upon starting the application, it scans all the Windows partitions including NTFS and shows the directory structure in two-pan window, either in graph or in table according to settings you make. You can choose from pie chart or rectangular graph or table. The best way is to use pie chart, which shows your disk space in a circles having colour segment of varying area according to the size of the directory. The interface is easy, explorer style and need no extra skill to use this application. You can click on any sector of pie representing a particular directory to zoom in to that directory to go inside for further analysis. Take note that directories having insignificant size may not be visible in the presentation.

Using this application in Linux may take some initial time to install. However, once installed, it runs speedier than in Windows. There is a java version of executable file jdiskreport-jar, which requires to be copied in the directory where you have installed your Java runtime environment. From there, run this file as you run other Java application by giving appropriate command (in this case, give “./java –jar jdiskreport-jar” command, without quote in the directory where JRE is installed and jdiskreport-jar file is copied). It needs Java runtime environment version 1.3 or more. Now, when application starts, select the directory (remember, in Linux, everything is directory) you want to analyse and after a brief moment, you will be presented with hard disk usage of that directory. Depending upon the size of directory and installed number of files and folders, the application may take several minutes for analyzing your hard disk. You can get this freeware from www.jGoodies.com. With cross-platform compatibility, this application is among best in its category.

Disk Triage

This shareware Windows application provides a bit of extra information and had a bit of extra functionality than other disk usage analysis utilities. Disk Triage can also sort out directories according to Age and Date Range so that you can get rid of old files and folders no longer needed. The report thus generated can be viewed in graphical view as well as in tabular form. It can export the generated report in excel format for use at later stage. This utility is also capable to get information of hard disks from connected networked computers running Windows. Download this application from its web site http://www.disktriage.com.

Scanner

However, this application offers nothing extra as for as other functionality is concerned, yet, it is one of the best, simple hard disk usage analysis tool available for Windows PC. It needs no installer and distributed free as single executable file scanner.exe. Upon running this file, it immediately starts scanning the installed hard disks it finds. Individual partitions can be analysed by clicking icons of respective partitions it displays in its window. Though it displays hard disk usage only in pie chart, the graphics is beautiful and fully resizable. Clicking the respective area in pie takes further deep inside that directory and thus individual directory level analysis is possible. It has some useful right click context menu like “Recycle” and “Remove” that can be used effectively and conveniently for hard disk space management. Download the Scanner from http://www.steffengerlach.de .

Dir Quick Viewer

As the name suggests, the Windows based shareware program lets you to know the details of a directory in a quick way. Simply select a particular directory and you will see the statistics of each and every file and folder in the said directory. It is a very simple, raw application but often useful in certain situations. The listed directory structure can be sorted in various ways and can be compared to a previously scanned directory. This application is available to download for evaluation from http://www.eshinesoft.com.

Space Monger

This tool is like hard disk usage analysis program “Scanner” described above, but it displays the disk usage in Rectangular pictures instead of pie charts. Selected directory or partitions are displayed as a full rectangle and inside it various rectangle of sub directories are shown. The sizes of rectangle displayed are proportionate to the size of directories. Though it displays information in peculiar, bizarre rectangular forms, it scans disk very fast and often, the rectangles appropriate to the size of directory size help in analysing disk usage quickly. You can run/open a file or folder and can delete a directory from within the application through its right click context menu. Space Monger is available for free download at http://www.werkema.com .

A word of caution

Hard disk space analysing utilities are good only in certain conditions. For example, if you installed tools like Zipmagic the utility that allows all other Windows application to treat compressed zip files as normal folders; then the results may be erratic. Similarly, hidden or compressed partition, in-accessible files etc. may block the hard disk space-analysing tool in giving you very clear picture of the hard disk space. Nevertheless, an estimate is still can be had which were valuable in managing hard disk space. So, before copying a new movie file or a song by VIVA, better count your hard disk space first.

Screenshot descriptions:

  1. Scan01 Hard disk space analysis tools like Scanner can analyse hard disk space including individual folders and directories.
  2. Scan02 Often, the deleted items residing at Re-cycle bin are taken as free space in Hard disk space analysis utilities. The yellow segment represents the Re-cycle bin is part of segment indicated for free hard disk space.
  3. Scan03 Through Scanner’s right click context menu, simple folder operations can also be done.
  4. Scan04 Scanner can also provide information about CD ROM or a floppy disk about its size and usage.
  5. Scan05 With Scanner’s application wizard, unwanted application can be uninstalled.
  6. Scan06 Disk Triage – the hard disk usage and space analysis tool has some cool extra functionality.
  7. Scan07 Disk Triage can show you the hard disk’s space usage and directory structure in variety of ways.
  8. Scan08 You can identify the directory / files for a particular date range. This feature is useful in managing and identifying specific folders created within specific date range.
  9. Scan09 Scanner’s pie graph is fully resizable which is very convenient and user friendly.
  10. Scan10 Dir QuickView shows the selected directory in a tree structure having different attribute. The generated report can be saved and compared to a later date for finding any change / modification done in between.
  11. Scan11 Space Monger – the hard disk space analysis tool displays hard disk space in rectangular picture, often useful in quick analysis of hard disk space usage.
  12. Scan12 You can delete unwanted, space filling directory and folders from within Space Monger.
  13. Scan13 jDiskReport is Java based cross platform application that runs on any platform that has Java runtime environment 1.3 or later.
  14. Scan14 jDiskReport shows hard disk space analysis in friendly Pie / rectangular graph or tabular form.
  15. Scan15 jDiskReport can identify the files that are aged more than 5-10 years old- and needs burial.
  16. Scan16 jDiskReport running in Linux. Depending on directory structure and hard disk space usage, (including the processor and memory you have) these tool may take several minutes in taking picture of your hard disk space.
  17. Scan17 Tools like jDiskReport is much needed in Linux since in Linux, everything is directory / file and you cannot guess which directory and which file is eating what amount of hard disk space without help of tools like jDiskReport.

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