SOFTWARE TOOLBOX

Space Hound Takes Bite Out of Disk Space Waste

At the risk of revealing my age, I can remember when a 10 gigabyte hard drive seemed enormous. Of course those were the days before PCs became vaults for music collections, family photo albums and home video libraries.

Now, it seems, no matter how much hard disk space we have, we always need more, which is why software makers continue to make programs like Space Hound (US$40).

I’ve seen more than a few applications for recapturing disk space on a hard drive, but Space Hound — its fourth version released in February by Fineware Systems of Burlington, N.C. — is one of the most elaborateand professional that I’ve seen to date.

Another Realm

Not only does Space Hound look different than most programs in this category, it takes the space reclaiming genre into another realm, the realm of file management.

It has a file finder that will also do text searches in compressed as well as ordinary files.

It will create a folder structure of your storage devices so you can see where your space is being consumed.

It will synchronize folders and subfolders.

Unlike many shareware programs, Space Hound exploits Windows XP’s enhanced graphics to their fullest. Color gradients are expertly used to give the application’s interface an attractive 3D appearance. Plus, 32-bit icons add visual pop to the program’s windows. Space Hound’s purpose — sniffing outwasted space on a hard drive — may be pedestrian, but its visual display has dash and whimsy.

Quick Wash Hard Drive

If you want to do a quick wash of your hard drive, you can use Space Hound’s common space waster function. With it, the program tags for trashing the usual suspects in space wasting. These include files with extensions such as .bak, .chk, .gid, .fts, as well as files in your recycling bin and temporaryInternet files. Should a question mark pop up in your brain about why any of these files exist in the first place, Space Hound’s help section will explain all.

When I tried removing all the usual suspects from my computer, Space Hound found 194 files — most of them of the temporary variety. After identifying some likely culprits, it flagged several files that might be dicey to remove. Those files were easily stripped from the death queue with a single mouse click.

In addition to deleting a set of files, you can play it safe by archiving them or moving them to another location. You can also tote them to the recycling bin, where they could be recovered should your system start misbehaving after the move, or you can erase the files immediately.

Safety Features

As any experienced user of programs like Space Hound can attest, these applications can be dangerous. Ordinarily, they lack the intelligence to determine if a system needs a duplicate file to operate properly. It can be maddening to see copies of the same file in various folders, but sometimes that’s just a quirk of the operating system or of a particular application.

One of the ways Space Hound addresses that problem is by surveying your system and creating a “dependency database.” It’s a way for the program to keep track of the connections between files and programs. It adds an element of intelligence to the software that prevents you from deleting essential files from your system.

Space Hound also gives you tools for examining files before you delete them and its robust help system can be readily consulted for expert advice on whether or not a files should be nixed.

If you seem to be forever looking for ways to free up space on your hard disk drive, Space Hound can give you an organized way to do it, as well as provide you with some rich detail about the files and folders on your system. As with any program like this — even one as safety conscious as SpaceHound — a word of caution is in order. Take care when deleting files lest you do some nasty harm to your system.


John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at reviews@jpmello.com.


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