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Issue 11.2 ('Boolean')
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Issue: 11.2 (March/April 2013)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 5,701
Starting Page Number: 13
Article Number: 12102
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If you've got an SSD (solid-state drive), you love the speed but you know that storage space is at a premium. Ideally, you want to get rid of any excess files that aren't needed, yet even today's "small" SSDs contain thousands of gigabytes of data. How do you find out what's hogging all the space?

Enter DaisyDisk, an elegant Mac app that shows you graphically exactly what's on your disk and where. It's interesting and innovative circular graph color-codes your disk's content by type and lets you easily see which portions of your computer are taking up the most space. Point at any graph piece to see a text breakdown of its contents, or click to expand that graph to the full window.

For example, Figure 1 shows my laptop's hard drive. At a glance I can see which areas are taking up the most space (such as the Users' directory, at 73.9GB). I can click on the graph piece which represents that area and go into my main user account (Figure 2) and see what's using space there (such as Pictures, which are using 7.5GB).

When I drill into Pictures, I see that my Aperture folder's using almost all of the space (Figure 3). Since I rarely use that program, I could move that folder to an external drive and save nearly 8GB if I wanted.

There's a contextual menu that's available either on the graph or on the textual listing on the right side, and it lets me do things such as previewing the file or revealing it in the Finder.

DaisyDisk features something called the "Collector" which is a depository where you can temporarily place files for later deletion. You can drag files to the Collector or use menu commands to move items there. When you're ready to delete the files, you tell the Collection to delete everything it's holding.

This sounds convenient, but there's a major flaw in the Collector's implementation. Occasionally, the Collector can't delete a file—perhaps because of a permissions problem or the file's in use—and the Collector will just give you an error message that it couldn't delete all the files. The files are still in the Collector—they have not been moved from their original location—so you can simply remove them from the Collector if you'd like.

But generally you really want to delete those files. Unfortunately, DaisyDisk doesn't give you a way to do that. There's no way to access the files in the Collector (you can't select them or reveal them in the Finder). Your only choice is to remove them from the Collector and leave them in their original location. If these are files you retrieve from many folder-levels deep in your disk, it's a real pain to find them again. For instance, I'll often find odd support or cache files for programs I'm not using any more and I want them deleted. But it's really annoying to spend time scouring for these files only to have DaisyDisk refuse to delete them and refuse to tell me where they are so I can delete them manually.

Thus, I find the Collector feature useless; it's better to simply reveal the item in the Finder and move it to the trash yourself. At least, that way, if it's a permissions issue, the OS will prompt you for an admin password to allow the deletion of the file.

It would be far better if DaisyDisk just had a move-to-trash command built-in; instead you have to do that yourself after finding the file in the Finder, which is an extra step.

But, despite that one drawback, DaisyDisk really is handy at discovering just what is taking up so much space on your disk. I've found hidden caches, cruft from ancient applications, file duplicates and temporary backups, old downloads, and much more that was easily deleted and retrieved me dozens of gigabytes of storage space. On an SSD, that's a huge deal.

DaisyDisk is also good for big external drives, where it's often easy to have duplicate backups or extra stuff you just don't need any more.

Whenever I notice my disk space is disappearing, I run DaisyDisk. It's like a detective for your hard drive.

End of article.