Dup Scout provides a quick and easy way to locate and deal with all the duplicate files which could be cluttering your hard drive.
Of course if you've lots of free hard drive space left then a few duplicates may not seem to matter a great deal. But more files means searches, disk defrags, Explorer browsing, virus scans and more can all take longer, so it can be worth checking your system for duplicates, just occasionally. And Dup Scout makes this all very easy.
All you need to worry about when you launch the program first is its right-hand "Input Directories" panel. Dup Scout will search these (and any folders beneath them) looking for duplicate files. So if there's anything there now, right-click it and select Delete, then click the Add button and choose the root folder of a drive you'd like to check: C:\ , for instance.
With that done, click the Duplicates button on the toolbar and leave the program to work. This is a reasonably quick process - it took only around 7 minutes to scan 56,000 files and 112GB of data on our test PC - but may take much longer with, say, network drives which are crammed with data. You don't have to wait until the scan is complete to get a report, though, as Dup Scout displays duplicates as they're found, so that should keep you entertained while it works.
Once the process is complete, just right-clicking any of the listed duplicates will give you a feel for exactly what Dup Scout can do. It can delete all duplicates, compress them, or move them all to a folder somewhere. There are options to help Dup Scout decide exactly which is the duplicate file (the newest, or the oldest?) Or you can choose to open a duplicate set and take manual control, deciding yourself exactly what should be done with each individual file.
You do need to be careful here. Deleting duplicate MP3 files will generally be safe, but wiping EXEs, DLLs or other executable files may cause very real problems: Windows or your applications may require duplicate files to be present, and so removing them will be a very bad idea.
What to do, then? We would say run Dup Scout, but don't use the general options to delete all duplicates. Instead work only with the duplicates which are using the most drive space, and which you know are entirely safe to delete (that is, they're files you've created or downloaded, not parts of Windows or a program's installation). It'll take a little longer, but you'll still free up plenty of hard drive space, while ensuring your safety as well.
Please note, this free version of Dup Scout can scan a maximum of 500,000 files and 2TB of storage space. If you need more, the commercial Pro and Ultimate versions of the program extend these limits considerably, and add a host of other features. Prices start at $25 and you can read more at the DupScout site.
DupScout v6.5 "adds the ability to analyze the number of duplicate files and the amount of duplicate disk space per server and per user. In addition, the new product version adds the ability to save graphical PDF reports showing the number of duplicate files per server and per user, improves the duplicate files reports dialog and fixes a number of bugs. "