By Todd LeFort

I’m a third-generation network administrator. My predecessors were very intelligent and capable employees, but boy were they slobs—not in appearance or anything, but in the way they kept house. The following experience will explain what I mean.

Who made this big mess?!
Recently, we experienced a problem with our server: our hard drive space no longer had enough free space to effectively defrag. As we spouted off options to add another hard drive to our array, set up another server and move data, and so forth, we also thought that perhaps there might be some files that we could delete off the server to tide us over in the meantime. What we found was shocking—about a gigabyte of useless garbage!

All right, let’s clean it up!
We started with the obvious—temp files. We ran a slick little utility called TidyDisk, which you can obtain from American Systems . In American Systems’ words, “TidyDisk is a handy utility for cleaning unwanted and unnecessary files off your hard disk. It can clean temporary files, Internet cache files, and any other files you want removed.” TidyDisk also allows you to specify how the unneeded files are discarded. You can save them to a Zip file, send them to the Recycle Bin, or permanently delete them. Personally, I send everything to the Recycle Bin so that I can view the files before they’re permanently deleted and easily restore the ones that I want to keep.

Running that utility cleared up a bunch of space, but not enough to allow our defrag software to run effectively. Next, we started going through each folder on the hard drive to see if there was anything that was not needed. Here’s where we encountered the “slob stuff.” We found log files and archive files from years ago! Delete. Delete. Delete.

We found extraction files from programs downloaded off the Internet. Once the programs and files have been extracted, the extraction files are no longer needed. Delete. Removing those files freed up a significant amount of space.

But we kept searching, and we found the biggest shocker of all. Apparently, in the past, a hard drive on a computer must have gone bad or something. We’re not sure what the situation was, but an entire hard drive was dumped onto the server and never deleted. It was taking up about 800 megabytes of hard disk space! Delete!!! All of those unneeded files amounted to about 1 gigabyte of space.

Now, doesn’t that look better!
Well, we emptied the Recycle Bin and checked out our hard-drive space capacity. What was once 19 percent free space was now 40 percent!! Needless to say, our defragging software runs great now, and our thoughts of adding additional hard drives to our array and/or building another server computer have been pushed further into the future.

What’s the moral of the story? When stepping into the shoes of previous network administrators, be sure to check out the closet where they came from. You just might open the door and get buried.
Todd was inspired to write after reading Jake Necessary’s article, “Are you ready for initiation into The Second Network Admin’s Club?” To comment on this article or to recommend your favorite disk utilities, please post a comment below or drop us a note .