How to search through hundreds of gigs of crap?

So I have a lot of hard drives, I tend to install way to much software that tends to conflict, that tends to crash windows and everytime windows crashes, I try to pick out big files and kill as nessasary, do a new install of windows, use it to read all the contents of the old install to a folder, not to mention that I change hardware around too much (or try to install to much hardware) and again, it crashes things, I wind up with my entire boot drive in a folder. I also had a fatal hard drive falure that I got partial recovery from (could have improtant personal stuff (mostly family pics is what I am worried about). It was only numbered files (file names wer lost due to coruption).

Basically I have a few hundred gig of crap that I need to wade through.

I would like to
be able to find duplicate files because there are many. I would like to search gigis of data and find duplicates.
pull all files of a particular type from a large chunk of data and relocate them to a new place (without the duplicate finding software mentioned above, it would also have to rename duplicates with a singel charicter change or something).
Be able to mass delete stuff, without having to step through windows hoops (like click this mouse buton, kill it forever, click this mouse button, send it to the recycling bin).

I’m sure that there are plenty of other things that would be nice, but y0ou get the point. Pay software is fine (I’m poor so its gotta do everything or be cheap) and of course I’m skeptical about buying a bunch o software so a free trial is nice (even if it is a crippled one). Of course free software is the best but I cannot do command line, unix, dos or whatever (10 years ago maybe, now, now way). I can figure programs like that out but it takes so much time its not worth it. I keep wanting to get into unix (all I have done is a little c programing in unix in college on sun workstations).
Does anyone have any recomendations???
Free is great, pay, I’ll check it out.
Fyi file count is a big problem. Among all the dirive and folders, there are plenty of software installs, that I would love to just kill, and software can have thousands of files (all of which I would want to just kill to the extreme), but there are probably millions of files from hundreds if not more software installs. that my bigest problems wading throught the crap.

Shift + delete will permanently delete (large selections as well)
System Mechanic is worth a free Trial for finding duplicates

I am sure there are plenty of others but this is off the top of my head, will post more if it comes up

I should mention those damn locked files, someone recomended unlocker
Even with reboot this program couldn’t del files. franklly, I have empty directories, and dmam if every massive file chung I deal with doesn’e have un erasible shit???
unlocker couldn’t, promised to on reboot (I was willing to reboot many times), and no luck…

I’m going to have to try that out…
Honestlly, if it works 10% of the time, great tool, I’m guessing it might get …30-40% of the crapp, if I had the time
ok I think I cross posted

you should google for an unistaller and a registry cleaner. plenty of those out there, even free.

Actually I am starting with a fresh install of windows xp. My previous boot drive has become a data drive (with contents as they were) so I can search through it all. I wonder if an uninstaller would be able to find program files even if they were not on the boot drive? As far as a registry cleaner, the one that came with fix it utilities is what trashed my system requiring the reinstall so I’m a little nervous about using them.

Well, I tried the free trial of system mechanic and all I can say is, this is not going to be fun. Excluding the c drive (it is a fresh install), on the data drives, I stopped the scan about half way through, after it had found over 27 thousand duplicate files. Thats only on two drives, and I have 4-5 other drives to go through. I guess I have my work cut out for me, and I guess I should have gone through some of this stuff a long time ago instead of letting it just pile up and buy new hard drives when space got low.
I think I will go through and try to delete all the old windows and program installs as that has got to be a lot of those files.

If you just delete program files, your registry will remain bloated with bad/empty entries. As for duplicates, try a prog like VisualCD, which is a free catalog-maker for cd’s and folders, which has a tool for finding duplicates.

I have a few pople at work that insist on installing every trial version of software that they can. I use JV16 Power tools to eliminate left over crap from the software in the reg. They have a free trial. It has many other useful registry tools. Like with all registry tools or doing any export a backup. JV16 makes automatic backups also.

I’m actually running a new and clean install of windows so no registry problems. Here is what happened. I used fix it utilities registry cleaner. It killed windows dead as can be. I did a repair install (a few times) to try to keep it running but eventually gave up. I took the actual physical drive that was the c drive with windows installed and removed it. I installed windows on a new clean drive. I then reinstalled the old drive with all my stuff on it as a secondary, non boot drive. It still has the corupt windows install on it, as well as installed programs, but they are not tied to the clean install I am running (but when using duplicate file finder programs and such, they still find all that crap from all those programs on that data drive). In the past, I have eventually taken the contents of that drive, deleted some of the obvious big crap, then relocated the entire contents of the drive to a folder, so I can continue to go through it for personal files later. Problem is I am stupid and lasy about going through it, and now have at least 4-5 of these huge folders that at one time were a complete boot drive. They have windows and programs and all kinds of data but nothing attached to the current windows install.
Just deleting it all is not an option. Barried in all that crap, are very inportant things (like the photos and video from when my son was born). MY lasyness in the past, not having gone through this stuff earlier has caught up with me. My stupidity in letting this stuff just acumulate over years, getting more hard drives when space ran low has caught up with me. I now have 9 hard drives with over a terrabyte of space, and 2/3 or more of it is full. There are several windows installs barried in it and several programs installed, but they are in no way tied to the fresh windows install I am running now.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had a fresh install on a raid array, and had just one game installed (tron). So I was playing the light cycles part (actually pretty cool for a cheesy and cheap game), decided that I could hit the windows key on the keyboard and check the forum here, then go back to my game, instead of shutting the game down (I know games tend to take control of the system and that was a very stupid thing to do), and it locked up the computer and killed windows (damn it). So now am running a fresh install that I stayed up till 8 in the morning doing, on a brand new seagate 160 gig (got 2 so I can raid them but ran just one ia a pannic right now). Now I gotta rush on 4 hours sleep to get all the software installed before I can start doing the ads (don’t you just love murphys law). I know I could skip it and you guys would forgive me (but I have only missed one week in almost a year so I’m not gonna skip it, cause thats just the way I am). So the ads will be late (AGAIN, LOL), even though I have the whole day off.

So I’ll search through this install for some of the more importand stuff, delete some stuff, get lasy and move it all to a folder, and add to the massive acumulation of crap that will soon be a terabyte of crap if I keep going the way I am. In all honesty, I am really going to go through it all this time, but then again, I have said that before, LOL!!!

That might actually be a good tip for the future. I have a bad habit of installing way too much software (not trials though). Thats probably half the reason I eventually kill my systems (not that an occational clean install isn’t a good idea anyway). I’m a little nervious about using registry cleaners after fix it utilities killed a good system, but I’ll check it out.


Consider doing a full backup (ie: via Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image) after the fresh Windows install you just did and after setting up all the options, mandetory software, and updates to the best of your liking to how Windows should run under your credentials. Then, whenever things go haywire, just wipe the drive back to that last known guaranteed state.

Just a thought and recmmendation.

and a very good thought/recommendation.

the feeling of a brand new reformatted hard drive is a good one…until the reality sets in that you now have to reinstall ALL of your programs

Hi folks,

I am not sure if I have posted this in the correct Forum!?!?

Does anyone know of some “FREEWARE” that I can use to EXTRACT my music off of a VCD that I have. I want to get the music on a CD so I can play it in my car.


Sorry to hear of your misfortune. As xtacydima stated using an imaging program is a smart idea. I own Acronis True Image and find it a superb program, in fact it’s my most cherished piece of software. I have restored well over 200 images and have never lost a file. When you restore an image your PC will be EXACTLY like you had it when you took the image, unlike XP restore that I find useless and have it inactive.

To minimize the time it takes to make an image or restore it I keep all my unnecessary stuff on an external hard drive or another hard drive I have installed. I have gutted XP to the bare minimum and my C drive is 1280 MB, that includes all my programs that I need. Total time for an image is about 1 minute and 15 seconds, a bit longer on the restore. Keep in mind this time will be far greater the more you have on your computer and will take up more room wherever you store it. The compression rate is about 50 %, so if you have 4 GB to back up, the image will be about 2GB. Obviously you can not store the image on your C drive. Using my external USB2 backup drive takes about a minute longer. The program comes with the ability to create a bootable CD with the program on it, if the system fails you can easily restore the image by inserting the CD, making sure your bios is set to boot from the cd, then navigate to where the saved image is saved, it does load drivers for USB so if the image is on an external drive you will have access to it.

Whenever I install new software I always make an image before the install, this way if I don’t like the program I simply restore the image and there is never ever any leftover crap. I have about 10 images saved at all times, beginning with a fresh install of XP and in stages thereafter. Even after a hardware change such as printer etc, the image still works, the balloon will pop up and tell you found new hardware, you just have to remove the old software and your good to go.

The fact is, with an imaging program you can have your system back in short order, instead of countless hours with a fresh install and all the XP updates and tweaks to your system. I can’t begin to count the times I had little sleep in trying to fix a problem or doing a fresh install. With the imaging software I no longer lose any sleep and am never fearful to install anything, if something goes wrong I do a restore.

I use to do image backups with ghost. I’m not sure why I stoped. Partlly later on because ghost cannot work with raid. Do you know if acronis can work with raid arrays (or does anyone else have recomendations of software that works with raid arrays)?
I’m also wondering about bounce back express (it came free with a couple of segates that I recently got).

Sorry, I have no experience with Raid environment. I did do a search for answers, with the Acronis site not confirming it can be done. I did come upon an interesting article that shows it does work, but far too complicated for my mentality and the effort required.

If you want to give the article a look you can find it here:

You could always email Acronis and ask them if there is an easier way.

Paragon Professional will. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Thanks for the answers. I’ll look into it a little further.

Best of luck, in whatever you decide.