How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner

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scanner detail   How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with ScannerThere’s an old adage that you cannot have enough disk space. It’s true, but a much cheaper option to purchasing more is to make more sense of the space you already have.

Windows doesn’t make that terribly easy, though. While you can get a decent view of the clutter in a single folder, expanding the view to cover more ground isn’t easy.

It’s not a new problem though, and there are plenty of tools around that will help you to visualize disk usage so that you can get organized.


We’ve covered some of these before. Karl reviewed a very geeky tool called Space Sniffer for Windows, Beth ran a giveaway of DaisyDisk for the Mac, and David talked us through using TreeSize, again for Windows. Damien even had a set of six option for Linux. I want to tell you about another Windows tool. A simple little application that can visualize disk usage called Scanner.

For a long time my favourite tool for finding more room on a drive has been Scanner, by Steffen Gerlach. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but it works just fine. Just download the .zip file, and run the scanner.exe that you will find inside it. No install needed, so you can also run it from a memory stick or external drive. You can use the other files in the folder to integrate Scanner with your right-click menu if you are so inclined.

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When you start Scanner, the first thing it wants to do is to scan your whole PC and get a picture of what is stored where. It’s quite happy to scan external, removable and mapped drives.

scanner2   How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner

Thankfully, you can stop that sometimes lengthy process by clicking on a specific drive icon on the left if you feel the need. Whether it’s scanning the machine or a specific drive, you’ll be presented with a complex sort of pie chart indicating what you’ve got. I’m a photographer, so my concern is usually with space for photos, which are mostly on my I: drive, so let’s take a look there.

scanner3   How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner

First things first. The interface is a little”¦ well, peculiar. I like it, but it takes some getting used to. We can walk through how it works.

The chart itself shows what is stored in the drive. Indications are that it’s about 90% full, worse luck.

As you move the mouse around, the boxes in the top left of the display show the size and number of files for that location. Mouse over the central grey area, and you’ll see a number matching the large label, but as you move out from the centre, you’re working your way down the folder hierarchy.

In the example above, it’s showing that I:\_modified\7D (and all its subfolders) contain a total of 111GB spread over 7,109 files. That’s staggering, given that I’ve only had my EOS 7D camera for a few weeks.

If you click on the section of the chart rather than just mousing over it, the screen is redrawn to drill down to that folder.

scanner 19   How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner

I store my photos on the basis of the date they were taken, so mousing over one of the large folders shows that I have 36GB of images for 19 March. Hot air balloons. It’s tough to resist.

There are a couple of buttons in the interface to reverse your journey. The left-pointing arrow takes you back where you were (in this case to the root of the drive), and the arrow with an elbow takes you back up one level at a time.

scanner arrows   How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner

You can use some of the tools in the interface to delete files and clean things up if you wish, but I much prefer to just use this tool to visualize disk usage, and then go back to Windows Explorer to commit the necessary crimes.

If you do hop out and undertake any housekeeping elsewhere, Scanner won’t know what you’ve done until it gets a chance to rescan. There’s a button for that, as well.

scanner rescan   How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner

You might well find when you start Scanner that its default size is a little small on a modern monitor. And you’d be reasonable in thinking that you could drag the corner of the window to adjust the size. You would also be wrong. You need to use the small (+) and (-) buttons to resize instead.

scanner resize   How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner

It’s not the most comprehensive tool out there, even amongst the free options, but I like it a lot. After all, to a photographer, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

So if you tried it out, how did you like Scanner? Do you have a disk space tool of choice? Let me know in the comments below.

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17 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Jim Hubbard

I never have liked the circular layout of tools like these. I much prefer the logical layout offered by the free SpaceSniffer (a free alternative to SpaceMonger).

You can download a free copy at http://www.uderzo.it/main_products/space_sniffer/index.html.

Aibek

Nice app but I personally prefer when the app simply shows folder size
next to each folder, especially when it’s integrated into the windows
shell.

MakeUseOf covered a bunch of those,
http://www.makeuseof.com/tags/disk-usage/

Jim Henderson

Perfectly valid choice, Jim, but it doesn’t work for me. :-)

Reply

Aibek

Nice app but I personally prefer when the app simply shows folder size
next to each folder, especially when it’s integrated into the windows
shell.

MakeUseOf covered a bunch of those,
http://www.makeuseof.com/tags/

Reply

Jim Hubbard

I never have liked the circular layout of tools like these. I much prefer the logical layout offered by the free SpaceSniffer (a free alternative to SpaceMonger).

You can download a free copy at http://www.uderzo.it/main_prod

Reply

Altzan

This looks a lot like Overdisk that was featured awhile back.

Jim Henderson

Oh, so much for our cross-linking. I never saw that one. I’m not sure which I prefer…

Reply

Scott_T

Spacemonger has the old free version that still works fine http://www.sixty-five.cc/sm/v1x.php

Jim Henderson

Yeah, now see that’s an interface that drives me bananas. :-)

Aibek

:-)

Reply

Nick

I don’t think you can beat WinDirStat (http://windirstat.info/)

Jim Henderson

Yep, and thoroughly capable it is… this just shows how everyone has different preferences. I hope Microsoft are listening. :-)

Reply

Scott_T

Spacemonger has the old free version that still works fine http://www.sixty-five.cc/sm/v1

Reply

Nick

I don’t think you can beat WinDirStat (http://windirstat.info/)

Reply

outsourcing

how come the scanner is not showing rest of the reports

Jim Henderson

I’m not sure what you mean…

Reply

Jim Henderson

Yeah, that one’s not bad.

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