Find Lost Space On Your Hard Disk With Space Sniffer

Karl L. Gechlik 29-10-2009

Find Lost Space On Your Hard Disk With Space Sniffer AskTheAdminHeadSSDo you know what is on your system? I mean do you really really know what is occupying your hard drive’s space?


Do you know where your 200GB is on free space? What’s that? You only have 72MB free? What is using all that lost hard drive space? What do you mean you don’t know?

It looks like you are in need of a virtual canine application called Space Sniffer (Windows only)”¦ Get it? Like a dog.

Umm well, the software is MUCH better than my joke – I assure you. No, really!


Go ahead and grab the download from here. It is a 1.1MB file. Once you get that file downloaded, go ahead and extract the executable file from the zip file. It is called SpaceSniffer.exe and it is completely portable!

Once you get the file out and run it you will see a screen that looks like this:



On that first screen, select the drive you want to analyze or sniff for lost hard drive space. I selected my C:\ drive. And hit Start. That starts the action and you will see a moving representation of your selected drive as it sorts out what is on your drive. You will see something similar to this as it runs:


If you click on any of the drive portions, you can “Zoom In” like so (even while you are still scanning). I double-clicked on the desktop portion occupying 5.4GB of data and saw this:


hard drive space missing

It is pretty damn cool to see the directories or drives broken down like this. My drive did take some time to complete. In the area of 15 minutes. But I was using the system as I went for normal day to day activities. Then it was complete.


Now let’s take a look at your options. You can see them by hitting Edit – Options. Then, you can see each of the four tabs below:


The first tab denotes if you should show free space, show unknown space, sort item and the minimum size of an element (this is the smallest items), proportions of items against each other and initial detail level. Mess around with them and see what works for you.


Hmm dynamic zoom as a effect? Let’s enable it and see what happens. After enabling this feature it, shows the effect of “Zooming in”. It’s cool but not very useful. It did not use as much memory as I expected.



Scan alternate data steams? This had me stumped so I checked my friend Google and read this:

Just after that I heard about an Alternate Data Stream (ADS) scanner named LADS. When I ran it on one of my drives I was shocked to find that I had over 17,000 hidden objects that ETrust had apparently placed there as part of it’s virus scanning procedure. They’re “Alternate Data Streams”, and one was associated with every file on my NTFS partitions. []

That sparked my interest enough for me to check the box and re-run my scan.


My new scan showed free space but no Alternate Data Streams – but I will scan my servers tonight and let you guys know via the comments how it went later on.


The last option in the preferences is the colors of items placed on your map. Tweak them to your heart’s desire and let us know how it works out in the comments!


Do you use a similar free program to find lost hard drive space? We would love to hear how you keep your hard drives in check! Voice it out in the comments.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Hard Drive, Portable App.

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  1. LifeH2O
    November 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    This application is a duplicate of Space Monger( same tool that has many other useful feature.

  2. whs
    November 7, 2009 at 10:17 am

    It does not seem to show the shadowstorage - or am I missing something?

  3. Umberto
    October 29, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Cute review Karl! I would like to tell you more about Alternate Data Streams: Not every file has an ADS, and usually they contain a small amount of data, so a global sight on SpaceSniffer is not much useful to see them. You need a bit of digging.


  4. Anomaly
    October 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I have tried more disk space analyzers than I can count. I prefer the ones that display disk usage in a tree format with a bar graph displaying the percentage of space each file/folder uses. The best I have used is built into Glarys Utilities. As a bonus Glarys has many other useful tools built in to the app besides the disk space analyzer and there is a portable version.

    • Aibek
      October 30, 2009 at 8:11 am

      Yep, Varun covered it a while ago

      [Broken Link Removed]