General Users who need to check their 'documents' folders for duplicates that have accumulated. For example, if you tend to make temporary backups of various documents/pictures/etc while working on a project, Duplicate File Finder can be handy for disk cleanup and housekeeping.
General and Technical Users who need to verify the integrity of backups. Although our Directory Toolkit utility is perhaps better suited to this type of operation, you can use Duplicate File Finder to scan just those two paths, with the expectation that you should see two of each file once the scan is complete.
Technical Users who need to examine their entire disk for duplicates that have accumulated related to operating system files, program files, and the like.
Important: Duplicate File Finder has no internal decision-making to tell you what is safe to delete or not. If you are a non-technical user, please read through the usage notes below for some general advice. Thanks.
Important: If you receive a "Disk is Locked" or "Drive is Unavailable" type of error message when attempted to delete files is because the operating system is restricting access to one or more files in the Duplicate File Finder results list. In most cases this is because the file(s) are either part of Windows itself or related to the Windows 'System Restore' function. There is no workaround within Duplicate File Finder. In fact, we recommend against deleting any files directly related to Windows itself or system recovery functions. You should limit your scan to specific folders and avoid the \Windows folder and 'System Volume Information' type folders.
Additional Usage Suggestions
We recommend scans be done on specific paths (folders), rather than the root of a drive. For many users, a scan of C:\My Documents or perhaps C:\My Documents\My Pictures makes more sense than a scan of C:\ alone. Confining the scan to specific paths will make for faster operation and will yield results that are easier to examine, especially if you are a 'non-technical' user. This will also keep the scan away from duplicate files in operating system folders, many of which either should not be removed or cannot be removed because Windows prevents them from being deleted.
As noted above, Duplicate File Finder cannot decide what files are safe to delete or not. You must make that determination yourself, based on your knowledge of the files found. When in doubt, do not delete!
We recommend doing cleanups in multiple steps. For example, if you organize files by project in separate folders, begin at a lower level folder. Do a cleanup at that level before moving to a higher-level folder. Taking smaller bites will probably make it easier to be systematic and organized with your cleanup detective work.
It is normal for the Windows operating systems to create &/or maintain duplicate files related to operating system updates, uninstall functions related to the operating system, and 'System Restore/Recovery' functions. In fact, it is not unusual for Windows to have 1000's of duplicates taking several GB of disk space \Windows folder and 'System Volume Information' or '_Restore' type folders. Duplicate File Finder will list these files if you scan those paths but Windows will prevent them from being deleted. There is no way to circumvent the restrictions Windows puts on those files. These files should not be disturbed because doing so will break the System Recovery functions. See below for more info.
For reasons similar to the above we recommend that you not delete duplicates from \Program Files unless you are sure of purpose of the files involved.
Do not rely on the Windows Recycle Bin as a safety mechanism for large-scale duplicate deletions. DO NOT attempt to clean out files from \Windows with the idea that "If something breaks I can just restore from Recycle Bin." The Recycle Bin is not limitless! Files you put there today may be gone forever two weeks from now.
The paths to scan are determined in the Paths area of the Search for Duplicate Files dialog (Screenshot - 25K). This dialog is activated from the Search toolbar button or File Menu. Upon initial installation the program may default to scanning all hard drives on your computer. We recommend scans be done on specific paths, rather than starting with the root of a drive. For many users, a scan of C:\My Documents or perhaps C:\My Documents\My Pictures makes more sense than a scan of C:\ alone. Confining the scan to specific paths makes for faster operation and will also yield more meaningful results, especially if you are a 'non-technical' user.
In addition to using the Paths to make a basic setting about where to scan, you can also use File Masks to control which files in those path(s) to scan or not. Basic File Masks are specified using * and ? wildcards. For example, *.jpg tells the program to check only .jpg files. More complex masks are possible using the Include/Exclude builder (Screenshot - 30K). Filters (Screenshot - 25K) can also be used to, for example, scan for files that fall within a specified date or size range.
If you must scan for all files from the root of a drive, consider using Include/Exclude feature to tell the program to skip one or more subdirectories. For example, a File Mask of *.*;~\*\System Volume Information\*\*.*;~\*\Windows\*\*.* will keep the program from scanning System Volume Information and Windows.
Duplicate File Finder is not intended as utility to provide forensic, legal, court related, or high security guarantees that two or more files are identical. Please see the program F1 hlp for more information about the matching methods used by the program.
Are you short of disk space and need to reduce the amount of space used by Windows System Restore files? The amount of space used by System Restore is governed by Windows. Check your Windows Help and Support function for more info about this. For most Windows flavors, go to Control Panel | System | System Restore. Look for a settings button of some that you can use to adjust the disk space percentage used by System Restore. Again, be sure to see Windows documentation about the consequences of reducing the space used by System Restore.