Thursday, October 4, 2007

Remove clutter with Windows XP SP2's Duplicate Finder tool

Even if you're a conscientious computer user (i.e., you regularly delete unnecessary files, empty the Recycle Bin, and run Disk Defragmenter), you may be unaware of a potentially big waster of hard disk space: duplicate files. Applications can litter your hard disk with duplicate files, or you can actually create duplicate files by copying files from one folder to another.

Windows XP's default installation doesn't provide you with a decent utility for tracking down duplicate files. However, Microsoft does have a tool called Duplicate Finder, which is part of the Windows XP Service Pack 2 Support Tools. Here's how to install and use the Duplicate Finder tool:

1. Download the Windows XP Service Pack 2 Support Tools and follow the instructions for installing the Complete installation version.
2. Open the Run dialog box by pressing [Windows]R.
3. Type Dupfinder in the Open text box and click OK.
4. Once DupFinder loads, simply select the drive or folder to search and then click the Start Search button.
5. When DupFinder completes its search, you can scan through the list and examine the duplicate files.

Here are tips for working with the list of duplicate files:

* Use either the Print Report or Export Data commands on the File menu to create a permanent record of the duplicate files.
* Use the Sort command on the View menu to reorganize the list for better analysis.
* To get more detailed information about any file, select the file, pull down the File menu, and select the Info command.
* Leave duplicate files in the Windows folder and its subfolders alone.
* If you don't recognize the duplicate file, it's better to use the Rename or Move commands on the File menu rather than the Delete command.

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