Microsoft

Storage Sense in Windows 10 will allow you to track hard disk usage

Greg Shultz takes a look at Storage Sense in Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879.

Storage Sense

There have always been ways to take a look at the amount of hard disk space currently in use in the Windows operating system. However, while those systems have been able to provide you with a general accounting, they haven't been very granular. To get a more detailed picture of your hard disk, you've had to turn to third-party solutions, such as TreeSize Professional. Until now, that is.

The Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879 comes with a feature borrowed from Windows Phone called Storage Sense. Let's take a closer look.

Windows Phone

As you know, smartphones generally have a limited amount of storage space that's used to save music, pictures, apps, updates, and others things. To help you manage that precious space, Microsoft endowed the Windows Phone with an app called Storage Sense. You just launch the app, tap the Phone or SD card bar, and you see the amount the storage space used on the phone, plus the amount of free space left. You can also see the breakdown by category of what's using that space (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Storage Sense originated on the Windows Phone.

Storage Sense in Windows 10

Since Windows 10 is designed for both tablets and PCs, Microsoft decided that it would make sense to port the Storage Sense app over from the Windows Phone to Windows 10. Of course, the information displayed by Storage Sense is more crucial on a tablet, where the amount of storage space is a critical factor. However, having Storage Sense available on a PC is a nice feature.

Getting to Storage Sense in Windows 10 is easy. To begin, launch File Explorer, select This PC, and then click the Open Settings icon on the Ribbon. When you see the PC Settings page, select the Storage Sense tab at the bottom of the list. You'll then see the Storage Sense page, which offers a Storage overview tab (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Storage overview provides a simple bar graph showing the amount of space used out of the total available.

Storage overview displays all the drives currently attached to your system. This PC is the main hard drive. As you can see, it provides a simple bar graph showing the amount of space used out of the total available. Nothing new there. The real magic appears when you click This PC, which reveals a more detailed view of what locations are using how much space (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

The bar graph at the top of the This PC page is broken down into color-coded segments according to the location categories.

At the top is a bar graph that's similar to the one on the previous page; however, this one is broken down into color-coded segments according to the location categories displayed below it. Storage Sense shows the following categories: System and reserved; Desktop apps; Apps and games; Pictures, music and videos; Mail; Documents; OneDrive offline files; Downloads; other user profiles; Temporary files; and Other. In each category is the amount of space used and a colored bar.

The categories

When you click the categories, you'll find more details and various controls. For instance, when you click System and reserved, you'll see the Manage optional components button, which provides access to the Windows Features utility where you can turn features on or off (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

The Manage optional components button provides access to the Windows Features utility.

Clicking the arrow button will take you back to the previous page. If you then select Desktop apps, you'll see the Uninstall programs button, where you can access the Programs and Features utility to uninstall programs (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

The Desktop apps tab gives you the ability to access the Programs and Features utility.

Clicking Apps and games will show you all the apps that you've installed and how much space each app is taking up on the hard disk. Clicking an app icon reveals an Uninstall button (Figure F).

Figure F

Figure F

On the Apps and games tab, you'll see all of the apps that you've downloaded from the Windows Store.

The Pictures, music and videos category allows you to view those files (Figure G). The Mail feature doesn't appear to be working at this point in time — clicking it reveals a page containing a button titled Manage mail, which is grayed out. The Documents category works exactly like the Pictures, music and videos category except that it allows you to view the Documents folder.

Figure G

Figure G

This tab allows you to open folders and view your data files.

OneDrive offline files accesses a similarly named page containing a button titled View OneDrive files. Clicking it launches the OneDrive app. The Downloads category works exactly like the Documents and Pictures, music and videos categories except that it allows you to view the Downloads folder. The Other user profiles page contains a button titled Manage users that provides access to the Users and accounts tab of PC Settings.

When you select the Temporary files category, you'll find a page with two buttons titled Manage temporary files and View recycle bin. Clicking the latter opens the Recycle Bin folder and clicking the former launches the Disk Cleanup utility (Figure H). At this point in time, clicking the Other category reveals a page that simply indentifies that content as uncategorized — there isn't a button on this page.

Figure H

Figure H

Clicking the Manage temporary files button launches the Disk Cleanup utility.

Save Locations

If you return to the main Storage Sense page and select the Save locations tab, you'll see that you can change the save locations for the Pictures, Music, Videos, and Documents categories. Clicking a drop-down on this page reveals my external hard disk, which is drive E (Figure I).

Figure I

Figure I

You can change the save locations for the Pictures, Music, Videos, and Documents categories.

What's your take?

While much of the Storage Sense app is working, there appears to be a lot that isn't finished yet. Nonetheless, Storage Sense looks promising. What do you think about Storage Sense? Is it something that you might find useful? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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