Tutorial Thursday

Many of you probably have files residing on your computer that haven’t been touched in ages. You may even have documents created years ago that you haven’t found a need to remove, or maybe there are some programs that you never got around to uninstalling. The problem is trying to find these unnecessary files and programs so that you can get around to removing them.

Windows (and many other operating systems) stamps the date and time on a file when it is accessed. Unfortunately, in Windows there is no easy way to sort every file on your computer by the date and time it was last accessed. With the help of a specialized freeware application, we can find this information in a heartbeat.

Find Unused Files

There is a free program that I came across called Find Unused Files (Download Mirror) and it will scour your hard drive looking for old files. What defines old? You choose what is considered old based upon the number of days that a specific file has not been accessed. By default the program will search for files that haven’t been used in over 100 days and will limit the search to 5000 results, but you can customize both of those options.

Once you change the program’s options you can go ahead and run it. If you decide to have it crawl your whole hard drive, I’m sure it will find a ton of files. I recommend that you choose a specific folder such as the Program Files or My Documents so that the unused system files are not pulled in with the results. After it finishes running, you can click “View the Report” to have it show you the info that it retrieved:

Find Unused Files

The nice thing about the program is that you can delete files from the window so that you don’t have to open a separate application to hunt down the file(s) it found. Just right-click and select ‘delete’ to remove the program from your computer.

You should obviously be careful when deleting files that you’re not familiar with because they could be important to an application. I recommend only deleting files that you recognize.

While the program is free it does require that you install it. I would have preferred to see this as more of a portable application that I could easily carry around with me to help clean up other people’s computers that I’m working on. This is a program that is nice to keep on your computer and run from time to time so that you can find documents/files to archive on an external hard drive or maybe even programs that you haven’t used in a long time.

Find Unused Files (Download Mirror)