Freeware maps hard drives to help you find giant files

Graphic maps of hard drives are a good way to see what's using up space on given volumes.

Most of us have used some variant of a utility to create a graphic map of our hard drive -- a way to actually see what's using up all the space on a given volume. Such maps are far more useful than static lists of files. For one thing, they let you see at a glance what is taking up most of the space and, two, they can help you find giant files lurking deep in the folder hierarchy that might otherwise escape notice.

SequoiaView is a visual storage-mapping program developed by the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven in the Netherlands. It's free, although the source code is not publicly available. Two things make SequoiaView more useful than most programs of its kind: the visual metaphor (the exact way the map of the drive is built) and the presentation.

SequoiaView uses a visual metaphor called treemapping, in which the hierarchies of folders are represented by subdivided rectangles. When you first run the program, it analyzes all the directories on a given drive and creates a map from the top down. The topmost folders in the directory are represented by rectangles on the outside edges of the map, and the rectangles most enclosed by others are the ones buried the deepest in the folder hierarchy.

When you hover the mouse over a given rectangle, a tooltip describes the file and path name, and the rectangles that delineate the topmost folder held by that file become highlighted. This gives you a fast, intuitive view of where everything is and how much space it's taking up. Note that it may take a while for the map to build the first time, but subsequent refreshes after changing files occur much faster.

SequoiaView also allows you to interactively browse the map. Right-click on one of the selected areas, and you can launch an Explorer process on the folder or file in question. If you see large files hidden deep in the directory hierarchy, you can then determine if they're really needed and compress them or delete them.

 


Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the  Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!

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This was first published in November 2005

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