Sunday, October 2, 2011

Virtually useful

Today, I introduced my wife to a wonderful, nerdy waste of time: WinDirStat.

WinDirStat sorts your hard drive folders by file size, and then shows you a colorful, interactive chart of your hard drive usage (see a screen shot by following the above link). It also makes it easy to send unwanted files to the recycling bin (where they will continue to take up hard drive space, as the graph will show you), or to delete them permanently.

My wife was excited to see what was taking up all her space, but was a bit disappointed to realize the inevitable: her writing, which she loves, takes up significantly less space than even a single mp3.

I am always adding new files to my hard drive, so to prevent a loss in performance, I regularly use this program to help me prioritize the files to sort, delete, or move to an external hard drive.

I called this program a waste of time. There's no question in my mind that it's immensely useful. If your hard drive is full, Windows is going to do nothing to help you find the principal culprits efficiently. But after the 10 minutes it takes to run the program, find the 550MB Microsoft Office Enterprise 2010 installation file, and burn a backup CD or two; or move those ridiculously large home video files to an external hard drive, are you really going to stop there?

No, you're not, because freeing up hard drive space is more fun than most video games, and has a direct tangible (virtual?) benefit! So you're going to spend another hour looking at pictures, thinking about deleting them or saving them for posterity, and contemplating whether they make you look fat.1

Due to the advent of the digital camera, and because I've attended 3 family weddings and taken 2 vacations in the last year, there are thousands of unsorted pictures sitting on my hard drive, and at least 500 of them deserve to be deleted to make space for new ones.

Challenge accepted.

1 Maybe that's just me.