Disk Mapper does spring cleaning of your hard drive, anytime

As hard drives clog up with ever-larger files, it's getting to be a real
challenge to clean them out properly.


Disk Mapper shows all your files graphically, so you can pinpoint the largest ones for
deleting or compressing. It has handy management tools for large and small files, too.


The best thing about Micro Logic's Disk Mapper 2.0 for Microsoft Windows 95 is its
customizable file display. For instance, you could map only files larger than a certain
limit or only those with specified filenames.


Always approach file deletion cautiously. The Disk Mapper documentation has good advice
for beginners, although you must read through to Page 13 for an explanation of files and
subdirectories.


Users who don't understand how directories work shouldn't delete files in the first
place. Many users are forced to do so, however, because their offices have no technical
staff to free up storage on overloaded systems.


Disk Mapper provides valuable hints such as this: If you aren't sure whether certain
files are needed, compress them first instead of deleting them.


Even though you don't gain much storage room by compressing such files, you can safely
discover whether they're useless. Just run your applications normally for several days. If
your system crashes, uncompress the files. If not, delete them.


When you first fire up Disk Mapper, its images and colors can be confusing. A tree
structure of directories appears along the left side of the screen; a large area to the
right is broken up into rectangles of varying sizes.


Files appear as colored blocks sized proportionately to file size. Very small files
display differently, because they're the least significant in freeing up space. But you
can quickly zoom in for details about them.


To display individual file information, move the mouse across the blocks. A status bar
displays the characteristics.


The first thing to do is customize Disk Mapper's display so you can understand what
you're seeing. The software can't automate this task completely because everyone has
different priorities, but Disk Mapper is easy to customize.


You'll probably want to suppress the small file displays, but the minimum size file you
choose to work with will depend on your system and needs.


Disk Mapper categorizes files by color. Mapping options let you color-key files by age,
type, size, extension, multiplicity, and protected or archived status.


But with thousands of files on your hard drive, even this much customization won't be
enough. Disk Mapper's filter function shows only files that meet certain conditions, such
as "never used after creation."


Once the display shows what's clogging your drive, Disk Mapper's tools clean out
unwanted files.


To check, you can launch applications, print text files, copy data to the Windows
Clipboard or launch a viewer directly from within Disk Mapper.


If poor organization seems to be a problem, you can copy or drag and drop files from
one directory to another. Disk Mapper is not a defragmenting tool. It shows how files are
organized logically, not where each file is located on the disk.


You can compress or uncompress files from within Disk Mapper, either to see whether
they're important or just to archive seldom-used items.


Other utilities called uninstallers will eliminate applications and related files you
no longer need.


But they don't clean up the clutter of old image, text and data files made by programs
you use daily, as Disk Mapper does.


It used to be hard enough finding old and useless files when hard drives held only 70M.
Today's multigigabyte drives are a nightmare to tidy up if all you have to work with is a
directory listing. Disk Mapper's display may be complex, but so is the task.


I recommend this software with one piece of advice: Designate one person to delete
files and always make compressed backups. Trashing the wrong file can be devastating to a
user or workgroup, yet we all have to clean up our drives or run out of room.


Disk Mapper helps you find the best candidates for trashing. But it can't protect you
from your own mistakes.


John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s.


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