Visualize your disk usage

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Take a hard, honest look at your desk. It's mostly neat,but there are stacks of papers that you've been meaning to file, a fewbooks, maybe a DVD in a half-open case... you know, the regular clutterthat slowly creeps into a workspace. Now, take a look at yourcomputer's desktop; same thing, right? Pretty well organized, but when you focuson it, there's probably folders and files all over the place. When youcheck your remaining hard drive space, you're shocked! Where'd all thatspace go?


Fortunately, there are many free tools to helptrack down exactlywhat's taking up space, be it forgotten programs, bloated caches, ormisplaced folders. Two applications rise to the top becauseof their size, usability, and features - SpaceMonger andWinDirStat. They each help you keep track of your free space bydisplaying a file or folder as a proportionally sized boxes.

How can they help you? Think of your hard drive as ablank piece of paper. Now, think of a file as a box on the paper. The bigger the file,the bigger the box. You can start to see the potential; if a fileor folder is taking up a lot of space, it will be displayed as a largebox, which is easy to pick out.

SpaceMonger 1.4.0

SpaceMonger 1.4.0 is the discontinued freeware version of Sixty-Five'sSpaceMonger shareware product, currently at v2.1.1. The graphics are alittle dated, but the pure functionality is there, and it's quiteimpressive for its size. The application consists of a singleexecutable, which makes it a great utility to keep on a flash drive. Settingsare stored in the registry, so it doesn't leave little file fragmentswherever it was run.

To use, simply open the drive you wish to view, waitfor it to scan everything, and you're presented with an overview of your harddrive. Turn off Free Space to get a more direct view on what files orfolders are taking up space. To view the contents of a folder,left-click and press zoom, or just double-click.

In addition to viewing space utilization, you canperform extremely simple Explorer operations by right-clicking on a box, such as deletion(warning - it doesn't use Recycle Bin), Run / Open, and viewproperties. In the configuration, you can change the colors and adjustthe visual density.

SpaceMonger 1.4.0 really doesn't do much else, butit does what it'sintended to do very well.

WinDirStat 1.1.2

  • Homepage:
  • ApplicationSize: 733 KB
  • Platforms: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT,2000, XP, 2003
  • License: GPL

WinDirStat is a much more robust application, and it's in active development. In addition to scanning drives, you can also just scan anindividual folder. As it scans, little Pac-Man figures traverse thescreen, indicating the progress (a light touch which can be disabledthrough the configuration panel).

WinDirStat offers a much more complete view whencompared to SpaceMonger. It color codes files using a shaded palette based on theirextension, displays an expandable tree of folders and information, andeven sorts files by extension and size. By simply clicking on a box,the tree view switches to that particular file, giving you a large amountof information about the location, size, and attributes. Byright-clicking on a box, you can delete, copy path, open an explorer orcommand prompt, or select the parent of a particular file.

Multi-language support, tweakable graphics, and userdefined cleanup scripts help round out this versatile application.


Everybody's computer gets cluttered; bothSpaceMonger 1.4.0 andWinDirStat 1.1.2 offer the free means to help organize and clean up upyour workstation. SpaceMonger's easier and smaller, but WinDirStat ismore powerful; the choice is yours. Now, if you can only figure outwhich pile of papers your mouse is hiding under...



Mauro Bieg's picture

Nice article, but just one thing:

It's a pitty that the adjective 'free' is used in this article a bit confusing. Free Software Magazine was always keen to use that term in reference to freedom, not price. I think this is an important distinction, especially when talking about a freeware product and a free software tool.
Just a little remark.

Jon Peck's picture
Submitted by Jon Peck on

So noted. Our editor mentioned that as well after I posted the draft, but since the article showed that the GPL utility was superior when compared to the alternative, he let it slide. In the future, I'll avoid confusion by sticking to GPL only software. Thanks for the suggestion!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

You don't have to do that, just label the non-free and no-charge software as non-free and no-charge.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Aren't most of the readers of the FSM GNU/Linux users? Neither of these tools works on GNU/Linux so to use them you need a non-free platform which is windows.

Jon Peck's picture
Submitted by Jon Peck on

WinDirStat was inspired by (or a clone, depending on your perspective) the KDE project KDirStat, which runs on any X11 desktop. I personally use both Linux and Windows desktops, and I'm probably not the only one. I haven't tried either utility in ReactOS or Wine, but in theory, it should work.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I just apt-got KDirStat and tried it out. What a great program. :) Thanks for the link.

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Jon Peck's picture


Jon Peck is a Zend PHP 4 & 5 Certified Engineer and Staff Developer / System Administrator for He writes a blog about technology and web programming at