Killer Download: Make space on your hard drive

When I realized I didn't have enough space on my hard drive to download a hot new game, I knew it was time for a little hard drive maintenance. Check out some of the best file management software in Killer Download.

Killer Download

When I bought a gaming PC for home use a little over a year ago, I bought a middle-of-the-road machine that had everything I needed with a little room to upgrade later on down the line. I got a 2.2GHz processor, a high-end (at the time) video card so I could play the latest games, 2 gigs of RAM (on the advice of a gamer friend), and I opted for a 120GB hard drive to save a little money.

At the time, it seemed like 120GB would be more than enough. After all, I can remember when a 1GB hard drive was the pinnacle of storage capacity--120GB ought to be able to hold anything right? Games these days generally take up a few gigs each so I thought I would never run out of space. I now know I was wrong. If you wait long enough, even the biggest hard drives will fill up.

I can't complain about my video card or processor performance for most games, though they are beginning to fall behind. But just the other day, I was about to download the demo for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare when I was shocked to find I was almost completely out of room on my hard drive. Instead of taking the obvious route--going through and uninstalling older games--I approached the problem from a different angle. I found a few useful programs which calculate file and folder sizes and present them in a tree format, according to which games, media folders, and apps were taking up the most space. From there it was easy to see what I could do without, enabling me to free up space before deciding to make my next big hard drive purchase.

SizeExplorer Pro
Use the analyze function to get a detailed graph of file distribution (Credit: CNET Networks)

SizeExplorer Pro shows you a tree structure so you can see where all the space is being used up, but you also can view files in different types of graphs for a visual representation of file distribution across several hard drives. You can use this app to search by file extension which comes in handy if you want to delete extraneous movie files or images that you no longer need. This one might be the best for multiple drives or if you're charged with managing files across a network. SizeExplorer Pro has the most options of the group, but you'll have to pay for the added features ($35).

TreeSize Free
Though it\'s lacking in flashy features, TreeSize Free does the job (Credit: CNET Networks)

TreeSize Free shows you a tree structure like SizeExplorer Pro but won't give you nearly as many options as the paid program. The developers of the bare-bones TreeSize Free offer more expansive products, but if you only need to see which files are taking up space, this free version is a great choice. You will be able to view your files in a familiar Windows Explorer layout, which makes it easy to navigate your hard drive. You also can delete directories from within TreeSize Free.

JDiskReport offers a slick interface and a few more options than TreeSize Free (Credit: CNET Networks)

JDiskReport gives you a tree structure like the others, and you can view your drive in a colorful graph and sort by a number of different criteria, such as file types and file sizes. JDiskReport offers themes so you can personalize the look and feel of the utility, though it seems a little strange for a file-management tool. One issue I have with this app is you can't delete files directly from within the program, though you can access Windows Explorer pretty quickly through a contextual menu. Even with this caveat, JDiskReport is one of my favorites in the category.

If you're running out of space on your hard drive or are interested in doing a little maintenance, check out one of these apps. When your folders are broken down by size, it's easier to make decisions on what to delete and what to keep.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.