How do you check how much space is available on your drive(s), and how do you check the size of the files themselves?

The usual way of checking on file sizes and space is by using “Windows Explorer”. This is nothing to do with “Internet Explorer” (the Microsoft browser program used to view web pages). Rather, it is a part of the Windows programming that comes to the fore when you double-click on the desktop item or “Start Menu” item called either “Computer” or “My Computer” (depending on the version of Windows you are using).

Here is a typical screenshot of what you will see when you invoke Windows Explorer using Windows 7. This view varies slightly between the different versions of Windows and you can choose to display the computer’s contents in different ways. The following is typical:

Windows Explorer (in Windows 7)

A typical view of Windows Explorer

There appear to be four different hard drives on this computer. There is, in fact, just one but I have split it into 4 “partitions” because that suits the way I work. It is quite common these days for computer manufacturers to supply their machines with the hard drive split into at least two partitions – usually called something like “System” and “Data”. It is easy to see both the total size of each “partition” and the free space available.

Notice also that Windows Explorer treats any CD/DVD drive in the same way as a hard drive. In the screenshot above there is no disc in my DVD drive (called a “BD-ROM drive” in this instance) so there is no figure for total space or free space.

Also, there is a USB pen drive (aka “memory stick”, “flash drive” etc) connected at the moment that has a total capacity of 3.72gb and free space of 1.42gb. Actually, this is a “4gb” drive. See this blog for an explanation as to why Windows thinks it’s only 3.72gb.

Viewing the Contents of a Drive

If we double-click on any of the rows describing a drive or disk then Windows Explorer will open up to show us the folders and files that are on that drive. Here is a screenshot of the contents of a particular folder somewhere on my hard drive:

Windows Explorer

Folders and Files

“Folders” are identified by the yellow icon. This is confirmed by looking under the “Type” heading and seeing that they are, indeed, described as “File Folders”. Folders are just places into which we can place files. We can easily create, move, rename, and delete folders. It makes sense to use folders to store files of a similar nature, according to our own wishes. So, we may have a folder called “Family photos”. We can then have folders inside folders (eg “Family Holidays”, “Family Events”) and then the individual files in the appropriate folder. Unfortunately, Windows does not automatically give us a figure for the size of the folder (ie the total amount of space occupied by the files in that folder). To find out how much space is taken up by the folder and its contents, we can “hover” the mouse over the folder name so that an “information box” pops up showing us the space taken by the folder:

Folder Size

Assessing the Folder Size

In the example above, I just placed my mouse cursor over the name “Seagate” and the box popped up telling me that that folder and its contents occupy 188mb of space. I could find more information about the folder by right-clicking on it and then left-clicking on the “Properties” option that comes up at the bottom of the menu.

It is easy to see the size of individual files using Windows Explorer. When I’m training clients I usually also show them how to find the size of groups of files but there isn’t really the space here today.

Windows has always been a bit limited in the information it gives about the size of folders – which are the ones hogging all the space on your drive, and other useful information of this kind. For many years there has been an excellent program available called “Treesize” that gives more information and a much better idea of what is going on with your disc space. There are different versions available – just click on the appropriate link below:

Treesize Free
Treesize Personal
Treesize Professional

Treesize integrates itself into Windows and is very easy to use. Once installed, you just right-click on the folder or filename and Treesize appears in the context menu that pops up. I recommend it to all my PC computer clients.

Dropbox logoOne final topic this week. I keep banging on about how good Dropbox is. Well, it definitely saved me some grief yesterday. I was doing some database development and something went wrong. I wanted to step back to a situation about one hour earlier but I had not taken a deliberate backup since I started the session about three hours earlier. So, I logged into my Dropbox account online. Dropbox appears to keep a backup copy of EVERY saved version of a file for the last month. There were about 200 different backup versions of the (very important) file I was working on. It was a very simple matter to just choose a version from about an hour earlier and restore that to the current version. Brilliant. And all these backup copies do not eat in to the allocation of data storage that Dropbox provides. In this case, my one single database file was bigger than 100mb so the 200-odd versions being kept online by Dropbox take up about 20gb on their own. However, only the current version counts against the storage allocation! Remember, if you want a free Dropbox account – with 2.25gb storage – register using this Dropbox link to gain that extra last 0.25gb free space.

© 2011-2018 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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