Mon. Aug 10th, 2020

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Using WinDirStat To Manage Cloud Drive Space

3 min read

imagesOne of my favorite desktop utilities for both Windows is tool called WinDirStat. On Mac the equivalent is called Disk Inventory X. Both are graphical directory analyzers to give you a clear picture of how much space you are using and what is taking up the most space. In the pre-cloud services world this tool was used on the local PC to manage hard drive space. With a simple configuration you can use this tool to manage your Dropbox, OneDrive and any other service mapped to your computer.

I use my Dropbox as a dumping ground for backups, iPhone photo backups and holding areas for shared files between friends and colleagues. The other day I received a pop up message my Dropbox was full. I loaded up WinDirStat to find out what was using the most space, if I needed those files out there and cleaned it up.

First, go down load WinDirStat here.

In order for this to work properly you need to install the local Dropbox or OneDrive client so it creates and links a local directory to the cloud service. To WinDirStat it will look like a regular folder. Open WinDirStat and select to scan a folder (at the bottom) and select the DropBox folder to only scan Dropbox.

WInDirStat 1

After the scan the results will be displayed in two sections. The top half will be the folder view and file types. The bottom half will be a graphical representation of the results.

windirstat 3

On the upper right you can see very clearly what file types are taking up the most space. In my case it’s JPGs and MP3s. From there I can drill into the folders and delete out what I can right from WinDirStat, no need to leave the tool. As you delete it will recalculate the size and breakdown of the storage use.

The bottom half’s graphical representation is overwhelming at first but there is a very distinct order to the colors. In the file type window above there’s a color by each type, that is shown in the graphical picture. Each folder is clustered together as well. If you look in the picture below there’s a small white box around the yellow and blue boxes. That tells you that those files are all in the same directory. Each box size is also important, the bigger the box the bigger the file.

Another pattern identification you see is just to the right of the white box you see two sets of clusters that are identical or very close in appearance. The file types, size of the boxes and arrangement tell me I have a duplicate folders. Turns out I backed up the same folder twice. I don’t need both so I cleared up almost 1/3 of my used space. I did this in a few minutes of using WinDirStat rather than going through Dropbox manually.

windirstat 2

Easy, fast and useful.

If you have anything you need to manage space on I would highly recommend WinDirStat for Windows and Disk Inventory X for Mac.

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