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Find duplicate files fast with the very speedy CloneSpy

20 August 2012, Mike Williams

If you need to free up some hard drive space then using something like CCleaner to remove leftover and temporary files is a good place to start. But duplicate files can also tie up a surprising amount of real estate, and so it’s often a good idea to use a specialist duplicate detector, such as CloneSpy, to see how bad the problem might be on your system.

To get started, launch the program, click Add Folder and choose the drive you’d like to scan: C:\, say. Click Add Selected Folder > OK > Start Scanning, and in just a few seconds (it’s very fast) CloneSpy will display the first pair of matching files.

You can now select the surplus file and delete it (being careful – wiping something important could trash your PC), or click “Skip” for the next pair, repeating the process to cycle through everything CloneSpy has found.

Of course this could take a very long time, particularly if CloneSpy has located thousands of duplicates. But fortunately there are a few ways to speed things up.

Click File > Options > Report, for instance, and select “Wait until all files are scanned…” and “display all equal files together in a list”. Now your duplicates will be displayed in a single window, making it much easier to review and resolve them.

CloneSpy can display a report of your duplicates, or delete the surplus files automatically at a click

Choose the Files and Folders sections of the Options dialog and you’ll be able to define exactly what CloneSpy examines. If you’re only interested in looking for particular file types, for instance, you can tell the program to report only on those. And you can tell it not to examine particular folders (it already avoids \Windows, \Program Files and other folders, for safety).

And if you’re really confident in the program and your settings then select “Automatically delete” on the opening page, and you can have CloneSpy remove duplicates without asking you at all. You might tell it to always delete the older files, say, or the smaller ones.

Just in case that’s not enough, CloneSpy can also search for more than just simple duplicates. Choose the appropriate action in the “Search for” box and you can have it look for duplicate files which have the same name. Or it can even report on files which aren’t identical, but perhaps just have the same name, perhaps with a similar size.

As usual with this kind of tool, there’s a huge amount of destructive potential here. Especially with the ability to automatically delete duplicate or similar files (there’s no prompting for confirmation first). The program tries to protect you from this by not examining the main system and application folders, and excluding EXE and DLL files from its searches, amongst others, but make a mistake and you could still break Windows or your applications. Don’t use this at all unless you have a full and recent backup to hand.

As duplicate file finders go, though, CloneSpy is extremely fast, very configurable, and entirely free (not even any adware annoyances). Give it a try and we think you’ll find the program to be a great asset in your drive cleaning efforts.

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