Recover Hard Drive Space with TreeSize [Windows]

David Pierce 17-06-2009

recover-hard-drive-space My hard drive is 100GB in total. My computer is a couple years old, and 100GB was gigantic when I bought it. I never, ever thought in a billion, trillion years, that I would use all that space.


And then, I got that fun-filed message saying,”You have less than 200MB available space on your hard drive. Please free some space, or your computer will begin to die a slow, painful, bitter death.” I paraphrase, but it’s not a fun message to read. And it was a shock to me because I wasn’t downloading tens of gigabytes of stuff – so where did my space go?

One quick download later, I figured it out. TreeSize, a great and simple application that helps you find those bulky folders and recover hard drive space. There’s a free version and a paid version, but for the basic purposes of getting rid of all the cra… I mean junk, on your computer, the free version is great.


Once you download the app, run it. It automatically scans your whole hard drive (and any other attached drive you choose), and then sorts the folders by how much space they’re taking up. It searches through hidden folders, system folders, literally everything on your hard drive, to give you a complete look at the size of every folder there is — much like WinDirStat Visualize your Hard Drive Usage with WinDirStat Read More , which was covered by Jimmy a while ago.


TreeSize tells you how much space is being taken up by each folder, and which subfolder is the largest one. It doesn’t isolate a particular file, as the tree in the free version just doesn’t go down that far. But once you get to the offending folder, it’s usually pretty easy to figure out.


TreeSize can open a folder for you, or even delete it for you right from within the application. This is where the warning comes in: don’t delete things just because they take up tons of space. A quick Google for most folder names, particularly ones you don’t recognize, usually provides information on what a folder holds and whether or not you can afford to delete it.


The reason I love applications like this is because most of the space on my hard drive isn’t devoted to music, or movies; it’s devoted to old system restores, leftover logs from applications that I don’t use anymore, and more useless files that happen to make their way onto my system. I don’t need them, I don’t notice they’re gone, and about ten minutes ago, I freed up over 16GB of space by deleting a few of them.

The paid version, which costs $23 for a single license, provides even more detailed and visual information about how your hard drive is set up and filled, as well as a few useful features like a duplicate file search (though DoubleKiller 5 Ways to Find Duplicate Image Files on Windows PC Duplicate image files are unnecessary and a waste of space. These tools will help you find and eradicate the image duplicates that are wasting space on your data drives. Read More can do this as well and free). But for finding and deleting those black holes on your hard drive, the functionality and usefulness are essentially the same.


TreeSize can make your computer run faster, free up space for more music, documents, and fun things, and avoid the disastrous slow-down and crash of your hard drive as it constantly spins, looking for massive files you don’t need anyway.

Am I the only one with this problem of random, huge files taking up all the space on my computer? What do you use to fix (or better yet, avoid) this problem? I would love to find out if there any better tools out there to recover hard drive space, so let me know in the comments!

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Hard Drive.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Matt Carson
    November 18, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    If you are a fan of Edward Tufte and his crusade of effective graphical communication of information you might like SpaceSniffer.

    SpaceSniffer may not attract power-tool geeks because it lacks the power of syntax-based tools nor automates tasks that affect files.
    But, it's open, allows comprehensive search parameters, and extremely visual. It shows everything on your HD as relative-sized boxes crammed into each other. Many many options. Really fast. Mesmerizing to watch and super intuitive. Seems to be well written. Comprehensive search parameters based on size, tags, attributes, age, file class, folder or file name. It's obviously a labor of love, not profit. I wouldn't mind a more comprehensive GUI for the filter parameters so I don't have to learn the extensive text-based search syntax (I didn't even realize it HAD extensive filtering syntax until stimulated by this blog).

  2. cristiano007
    June 22, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Here's the link to download the freeware Scanner by Steffen Gerlach: Again, nice, light and very useful.

  3. Atraktos
    June 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Nasty. Nah, I don't think so. I just speak my mind. As I said there are far better alternatives compared to even the paid edition and in the end, any freeware search program like Locate32 or Everything will point out those biggies easily any time. I found it pointless, just because we emphasized on an inferior utility. You can actually have the job done easily without spending a dime.

  4. Philly Cheesesteak
    June 18, 2009 at 10:49 am

    doesn't compressing your files stop you from using them? Dont you then have to decompress them everything you need to use them? I believe if you can afford to compress a file, then you probably dont really need it....move it to an external HD then.

    • Ryan P
      June 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm

      Philly Cheesesteak, if you compress like Jalley suggested, then NO, it doesn't stop you from using them. It's NTFS compression. It can reduce the space used on a drive WITHOUT having to Zip/Rar/etc them. (The only downside of using NTFS compression is that files are slower to access, since they are uncompressed automatically before opening.)

      I use NTFS compression (like Jalley suggests) on my external/storage/backup drives, but rarely use compression on my 'main' Windows drive. (You can choose to compress a file, folder, or drive... if you wanted to.)

  5. Joey
    June 18, 2009 at 9:38 am

    By the way, in the latest version TreeSize Free is able to drill down to file level in its tree.

  6. Jalley
    June 18, 2009 at 3:32 am

    The free utility "Advanced SystemCare" comes with a very handy, similar tool simply called Disk Explorer. Following installation of the program, click on the "Utilities" button, and then click the "Admin Tools" tab. Once you've initiated the Disk Explorer feature, it will scan your HDD and provide a detailed report as to what files are consuming the most space. A cool feature will also organize the 100 largest space-takers in order, allowing for easy deletion/clean-up.

    • David Pierce
      June 20, 2009 at 12:26 am

      Great idea - thanks for this! I like the 100 largest thing in particular; off to give it a go!

  7. Clive
    June 18, 2009 at 2:20 am

    My, my some people just like to be nasty with their comments don't they?
    I'd like to add that once you've cleaned out all the clutter you can gain still more space by compressing your files.
    Do this by right clicking on a drive in My Computer, select Properties from the menu & then tick the "Compress drive to save disk space" option in the "General" tab. Of about 80 Gb on my drive this process "saved" me 20Gb!

  8. Simon Slangen
    June 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    100GB? That really is ancient! I'm going to need this for my 2TB soon :-D

    • David Pierce
      June 20, 2009 at 12:25 am

      I know! It's crazy. New computer, here I come!

  9. hipsterdoofus
    June 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Not really sure how this program frees up your space - it just tells you where it is being taken up at - much better tool to use would be jdisk by jgoodies in my opinion. Completely free.

    • Carnivore
      June 18, 2009 at 9:27 am

      JDisk is a reporting tool as well. TreeSize Free at least supports the Explorer right click menu within the application, which is very useful as it provides access to many Explorer extensions like compression tools, and the possibility to delete to the recycle bin.

  10. moklet
    June 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    100 GB I can still remember he times that we thought 100 Mb was a lot and how the Fcuk you could fill that up. Guess it shows my age

  11. Dean Pugh
    June 17, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Spacemonger is the way to go. It's much better.

  12. cristiano007
    June 17, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Yes, WinDirStat is a lot better, you literally get the whole picture, color coded. But I really love an old and little app simply called Scanner that makes waht I call a "Cake Tree". It's faster and lighter than WinDirStat and do the work perfectly.

    • David Pierce
      June 20, 2009 at 12:25 am

      Fair enough - WinDirStat is awesome, it's true. But the thing I love about TreeSize is that it's kind of stupidly simple - all it does is show you big files, no frill or fuss. I like that. Scanner might be worth checking out, too - thanks!

  13. Philly Cheesesteak
    June 17, 2009 at 9:23 am

    i dont believe this post is pointless at all, how ever, i do agree that there are other utility softwares out there which do the same thing, with a better interface and all. CCcleaner however does not tell you which folders are "eating" up the most space on your hard drive, so i dont really think its a viable counter software to treesize. I use tuneUp utilities and it does this for me easily. I will rather continue using that than this.... but still a good post. thanks

    • arif qasim
      October 14, 2009 at 1:58 am

      I have 4 partitions of my hard drive. Drive "C" was alotted 6.88 GB but now theres ony few MBs. I dont know what is eating my drive space .Pls guide me

  14. JGamble
    June 17, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I've been using a program called spacemonger for years. It will give a great graphical view of your entire hard drive and quickly let you visualize what and where the large, space sucking files are.

  15. Atraktos
    June 17, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Sorry but I find the post pointless, considering that the utility is mediocrity and far inferior to other similar programs. WinDirStat does it so much better, compared even to the paid version of TreeSize.

    And to be honest, even though such programs are in fact useful, in the end CCleaner is more than enough for the majority of people who want to get rid of useless system files (since the average Joe doesn't even know if a file is crucial or not).

    • Carnivore
      June 18, 2009 at 9:39 am

      CCleaner can only free up space of those system files it knows of. That's usually some 10 or 100 MB. If TreeSize ever pointed you to the 5 DVD rips of last year that you had totally forgotten and that each occupied 4GB disk space, you will be very happy about the unexpected free disk space.

      I can only recommend to anyone who has an aged Windows installation: Let TreeSize Free scan your C: drive (there is even a version that does not require installation) and you will be surprised what space hogs it reveals.

      While I understand that "home users" don't want to pay money for the commercial editions of TreeSize, I cannot understand how any can suggest that WinDirStat is better than TreeSize Professional, as the Pro edition covers all features of WinDirStat, has several more, scans fatser and finally has a ( tree map chart that is actually useful.