Where did my hard drive space go?

One of the very first applications I installed the first time I got a mac was JDiskReport. This is a very handy app that will scan your hard drive (or any other storage space) and show you how much space each file uses. You can see the file size distribution as a pie chart, a histogram, etc. That way, you can easily spot huge files that eat away all your space without your knowledge, and you can also see what folder you should “prune” (maybe by burning a few DVDs…). But JDiskReport has its flaws – the most glaring one being that it is a Java application. Of course, the cross-platform thing is nice (I have used this app in Windows and Linux as well) but the whole interface feels kind of sluggish, and it takes its sweet time to load. So I went on a hunt for native disk scanning applications.
OmniDiskSweeper IconOne of the most popular I found is Omni Disk Sweeper from the Omni Group (yeah, the makers of OmniOutliner, which is maybe the greatest app ever). It’s pretty nice and fast, but you have to buy it if you want to use all the features, and it’s $14.95. Which is ok, I guess, if you scan your hard drive for huge files every day – but most of us don’t do it often enough to justify the investment (at least I don’t).
WhatSize iconMoreover, WhatSize from Id design does exactly the same thing (if I’m not mistaken) and is totally free. It shows you how your hard drive is organized in a way very similar to the finder’s column view (like OmniDiskSweeper), and optionally sorts each column according to folder size, so you can spot very fast the space-eating bad guy (for me it’s usually the “divx” folder…). Also you can re-scan a folder whose content you just modified (e.g. by trashing a few files) without rescanning the entire hard drive, which is nice.
The last application I found is Tree Size 2.0 from Monkey Bread software (the makers of the very fine Combine PDFs). This one shows you disk occupation in a tree form, which is not as nice as the column view but still gets the job done. However, the application does not use Cocoa, and feels very sluggish in user interaction (opening a folder tree takes forever, and summons the pizza beach ball of death every time).
In conclusion : get WhatSize. Or JDiskReport, which, after all, still has a buttload of features that all these other apps haven’t.
Update : I just found out about Disk Inventory X, which is different from the others in that it shows your disk occupation as a Treemap ie a graphical 2D representation where files occupy a surface proportional to their size on disk. Could be interesting.

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4 Responses to Where did my hard drive space go?

  1. aenh says:

    thank YOU for your conclusion(s)!

  2. dgkfp says:

    Good site!!!

  3. govboy says:

    Lots of good information above. Turns out JDiskReport was exactly what I was searching for. Thank you

  4. vnoel says:

    FWIW, I’m now using Grand Perspective, which does kinda exactly the same thing as Disk Inventory X, except that it’s able to handle correctly hard linked directories in Time Machine backups.

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