Prior to removing any data from your computer, it is best to have a local and physical copy of your data, routinely cloned to an external backup drive.
Cloud is NOT backup! Depending on how the files are removed from your system, deleting files from a synced folder associated with a cloud-based account like Dropbox may cause those files to be permanently deleted from the cloud as well.
Avoid altering any system files or directories unless directed to do so by your IT professional.
Use WinDirStat, a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Windows, to scan your hard drive and present you with a list of files and their associated size.
Observations and Common Problem Examples:
- Sharp or patterned decrease of available hard drive space for no obvious reason
- A folder full of chronologically-ordered backup archive files that you need to manually remove and periodically clean up, such as those backup files that QuickBooks creates at different time intervals while the database is open and whenever the program is closed.
- A Dropbox folder that continues to grow in size because of what is shared with you and your Dropbox account. Modifying Selective Sync settings in the Dropbox app would help reduce the amount of space occupied on your hard drive -- access our article to learn more about this here.
- Adobe Creative Cloud cache files that the Adobe CC programs fail to purge automatically
- Windows system updates files and logs that Windows OS fails to purge automatically
- Discover what files take up space on your hard drive and where those files are located
- Find large files or file batches and delete them if they are not necessary/no longer needed, or move them to an external drive to free up space on the internal drive
- Identify trends and patterns of system folders or folders containing log files that continue to grow and accumulate -- all of which may be early indicators of a malfunctioning Windows OS or malfunctioning programs and their associated program files
Proposed Solution: Install and use WinDirStat to analyze the contents of a drive
1. Download the WinDirStat program from https://windirstat.net/ and choose one of the mirror sites, i.e. click “SourceForge” under additional download mirrors
2. Allow the installer file to download, run the installer, and follow the prompts to install the program
3. Open WinDirStat and choose the “Individual Drives” radio button
4. Select the drive you want to scan then click “OK”
5. WinDirStat will scan the contents of the selected drive. A green bar at the bottom of the screen and percentage in the window bar show progress.
6. The results are listed with largest-sized files and folders at the top of the list. The right pane shows a breakdown of hard drive space used by file type.
7. A graphical interpretation of the space used appears as a “Treemap”. To increase available screen space from within the program, remove the Treemap by pressing F9 or choosing “Treemap” menu and unchecking “Show Treemap”
8. Click the “+” next to each folder to expand and show its contents to see further into specific files that are contained in the folders.
9. If you want to go directly to a folder within Windows OS, right-click on the folder and choose “Explorer Here” and the folder will open in a new window -- from there, you can delete or move the file to another location.