I'm not really sure what I'm looking for, so maybe someone can help...
I recently noticed that my HDD free space has been dropping. I think it's happened twice now in increments of 6 GB. I'm not sure if it's some random background process, or maybe a strange form of virus (WL OneCare didn't find anything though), or perhaps some program I run (a game, maybe?) installs itself again each time it's run?
Anyways, I'm looking for a way to view the breakdown of data on the disk - where various chunks are located. Windows Explorer is far to tedious - is there a piece of software I can use to (hopefully) locate these chunks of unwanted data?
There are a few different things that you can do from within windows.
They dont really show you what the files are but they are unneeded files that can be deleted and will return some space.
1. I think in concern to your 6GB drops it is most likely system restore that is using that space. Windows regularly records certain vital system information that it can use in the event that you have a system failure to reset itself to a earliers time.
Depending on you system, it can use an amazing amount of space.
If you are certain that your system is running well and dont see a need to go back to a time earlier than today then do this.
goto start|accessories|system tools|disk cleanup
first you will notice a list of items that can be cleaned out. Just put a checkmark next to the things you want to delete.
At the top of the same window there is a tab called More Options.
Click that and goto system restore and shadow copies|clean up.
This will delete all of the backup items discussed above.
Now onto Iexplorer.
Goto tools|internet options|browsing history delete.
Select delete all. In the next window ckick the checkbox and hit ok.
This will delete a huge amount of temporary internet files.
In the same internet options|browsing history use settings and view files.
In the right pane highlight the top file. goto the edit menu and hit select all. They will all turn blue. Now with your cursor over the right window right click and hit delete. This will delete all of your cookies.
NOTE: if you have any web sites set to log in automatically such as this one you will have to log on again.
These 2 things should reclaim a fair amount of space for you.
I have Firefox (default browser) set to delete cookies and temp. files on exit, so that's not a problem. I forgot about system restore, though. Is there a way to reduce the frequency/size of restore files rather than completely disabling it?
You arent disableing it.
You are just reducing the amount of stored records.
In normal operation it will create a restore point whenever you do something big to the system such as hardware addition, program addition, antivirus change etc.
Over time you get several of these records on the HDD.
So as long as you know your system is in good shape you can delete them and new ones will be added when necessary.
Note by using the above mentioned technique. The current record wont be deleted so you will have the ability to revert to todays setup at any point in the future.
One thing I forgot to mention earlier is in Vista you can turn off indexing and save some space also. It will make searching a little slower, but if that isnt something that matters much to you it will also improve system speed a bit by not writeing to the index all the time.