Calculate dir size – Treesize vs. WinDirStat vs. VisDir

Have you ever ran out of disk space in Windows or wondered what’s taking up all the space on your harddrive and think right-clicking, choosing Properties is way to limited? Here are three alternatives that are free and portable:

Options that are quite useful is to visualize the result, but also get the size of a dir. Another good feature is to be able to “go” to the dir in question so you can check what files are taking up the space and possibly delete them. It’s also important it’s fast to scan.

Treesize visualize it quite nicely where you can choose to show you size/number of files/& and also KB/MB/GB. WinDirStat also offers you to visualize in different views. WinDirStat also offers you “treemap” and “filetype” which shows you what kind of files is taking up all the space. This can be useful when you scan a huge fileserver so you can see how much space all those media files take up (mp3, avi etc). TreeSize offers you a professional version ($49.95) that offers even more features which might be useful if you use it on a daily basis.

VisDir doesn’t allow you to see the actual size directly in the interface – it only visualize it for you as pie chart or horizontal/vertical bar, which makes it pretty limited.

My choice: I would choose WinDirStat since it offers some additional views. It’s not as fast as TreeSize but fast enough.

TreeSize Free screenshot:


WinDirStat Portable screenshot:

WinDirStat Portable

VisDir screenshots:

VisDir 1
VisDir 2

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Backup your disk to an external harddrive using Toucan

Too many times, friends have called med and said “Hey, my external USB-disk i used for backup crashed – can you get my data back?” Well, my first question is always “But it’s a backup right? So you have all the original data somwhere else?” Sometimes they don’t. Either they moved/saved everything to the USB-disk only or they haven’t copied the data for months.

This post will exaplin how fast and easy to make backup (copy that is) from your internal C: drive to your external USB-disk. Do it before it’s too late!

So for this example, you have all your important files on your internal harddrive C:\Files\. What you will do is to make sure everything in that folder is backed up (copied) to Z:\FilesBackup\ which is on your externdal harddrive. After this, you will continue to save everything to C:\Files\ and on a regular basis you will make sure this folder will be copied to Z:\FilesBackup\ – simply by clicking an icon.

First you need a small application to help you do this – and I will use the portable app Toucan.

  1. Download Toucan to C:\Files.
  2. Doubleclick the downloaded file and choose to install it to C:\Files\Toucan. After installation you can delete the .exe file you downloaded.
  3. Doubleclick the application C:\Files\Toucan\Toucan.exe and it will start:
    Toucan 1
  4. Click the + sign to add a job. Name your job to for example “Backup”.
  5. In Function, choose Update. This is how the files are copied to the external harddrive. If you want to know more about the differences, read the Help.
  6. In the Source, click and choose the source directory – in this case C:\Files
  7. In the Destination, click and choose the destination directory – in this case Z:\FilesBackup on your external harddrive.
  8. Press the disk to save the job settings.
  9. Then you can click Preview. This will show how the result will look but not actually do anything.
  10. Once everything looks OK – press OK and the job will start. During the copy you will get a progress window.
  11. Finished!

Now you can simply start Toucan and select the job and choose OK and it will update your backup with all new and changed files.

You don’t trust it? Simply right-click both C:\Files and Z:\FilesBackup and choose Properties. This will show you the size and number of files in each folder – do they match? Then it’s very likely it worked!

You don’t trust yourself that you will run this often enough? One simple way is to autostart the application at startup – but that could be irritating.

Another way is to create a “script” that runs the job you created above automatically:

  1. Start -> Notepad
  2. Write the following line in Notepad:
    C:\Files\Toucan\Toucan.exe Backup
  3. Choose Save As and browse to C:\Files\Toucan. Save the files as Backup.bat.
  4. Now you can doubleclick that Backup.bat and it will automatically run the job for you.
  5. If you from Explorer drag this file holding down the RIGHT mousebutton and drop it on the desktop you will have the possibility to create a shortcut to it on your desktop. This might remind you more often to simply doubleclick it and make a backup.
  6. Finished!

But maybe you still don’t trust yourself? Maybe you want to schedule a backup at certain times so it runs automatically? Now it starts to get a little bit more complicated.

  1. Start -> Task Scheduler. Press Continue if Vista asks you a question regarding Access.
  2. Rightclick the root called Task Scheduler (Local) and choose Create a Basic Task…
  3. Name it whatever you want, for example Backup and then Next>
  4. Then you can choose how often you want the backup to run. When you logon can be a good option but then you might get a slow cmoputer every time you start if a lot of files has been changed. Daily could be a good option but maybe your computer is not always on at a certain time? It’s up to you! I choose When I log on. Then click Next>
  5. Choose Start a program and Next>
  6. Choose Browse and choose the C:\Files\Toucan\Backup.bat you created above and click Next>
  7. Choose Finish. Now try your job by logging of and logging on again. If there are not much changes to C:\Files you might even notice the window opening.

But please – make sure that the backups work! Add a bunch of files to C:\Files and test that it gets copied to Z:\FilesBackup on a regular basis.

Next time your disk crashes – be happy you spent this time configuring the above and don’t have to spend thousands of € to send the harddrive to a repair shop.

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