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Create a shareable file and folder tree with Snap2HTML

30 November 2011, Mike Williams

When you’re trying to troubleshoot a friend’s PC then it’s often useful to know more about what’s on their hard drive: installed programs, the \Windows folder, temporary folders maybe, and more.

If you’re sitting in front of the system then you can just launch Explorer and take a look. When the friend is far away, though, this becomes rather more difficult, as Explorer provides no way to for your friend to, say, save a report on the contents of the \Windows folder.

And while you could try a command line trick or two – dir c:\windows /s > \report.txt, maybe – that won’t exactly produce the most readable of file listings.

Fortunately this isn’t necessary, though – not if you have a copy of the free Snap2HTML, which makes it very simple to record the contents of any folder tree.

The program is tiny (a 142KB zip file), so easily emailed. And it’s portable, too. Your faraway friend can simply unzip it and be ready to go.

It’s also easy to use. Point Snap2HTML at the root folder you’d like to map (\Windows, \Program Files, whatever it might be), optionally check a couple of boxes to include hidden or system objects, and that’s the configuration done. Now click Create Folder Snapshot, provide a name for the form, and Snap2HTML will scan every file and folder beneath the specified root and save them in a single report.

But the best part is that the report comes in the form of an HTML file, which makes smart use of JavaScript to display the file and folder information dynamically, just like Explorer. So the left-hand pane shows the folder tree, which you can expand as you like to zoom in on any particular detail. And whenever you select an individual folder, the right-hand pane will show you what it contains: file names, their sizes and “last modified” dates. If you need to get a feel for what’s stored on a hard drive then this really is an easy way to find out.

Snap2HTML does have one notable issue. Its HTML report format may be great to look at, but it’s not exactly compact. And so while the program is capable of producing a tree representing an entire hard drive, this will take a very long time, and result in a file that will probably be too large to email to anyone (maybe even if it’s zipped up). So wherever possible you’ll want to restrict its scanning to the minimum of folders.

Still, it’s a clever idea, and one which has more applications than just remote troubleshooting. If you need to see how your hard drive changes over time, for instance, you could store a snapshot of its current state as an HTML report, then browse this later for easy comparison with your current layout. And you can probably come up with more uses, too: give Snap2HTML a try, see what the program can do for you.

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