The lowdown on removing duplicate files

A question we hear a lot around here is “Do you know any programs that will help me do X?”. The problem when it comes to duplicate files, however, is the opposite – the question’s more likely to be: “There are so many dupe programs out there, how do I know which one is best?!”. So what’s important when it comes to zapping dupes?

First, make sure you’re using the best tools for the job. If you need to focus on music or images, grab a format-specific cleaner, because it will offer you specific tools for the files in question. If you want a general cull of duplicate files, it’s worth paying attention to how the program analyzes your files. This is especially important to make sure you don’t accidentally delete files that are not actually the same. There are various ways the program will do its job, so have a look at the following before you download anything:

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Name

This is a simple but not very accurate search. Just think – you’ve saved the same document twice under different names. If you just search by name, you’ll still end up with two copies clogging up your hard drive!

Size/File Type/Date of Modification

In a small collection, it’s unlikely that two of these factors will be the same, but if we’re talking larger numbers of documents, it could conceivably happen. Best to avoid this method (or use it in conjunction with one of the alternatives below) if you want to be sure.

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Byte-by-Byte

This extra-safe way analyzes the content of the files, meaning that no amount of similarly named and sized files can escape the chop. If two files aren’t duplicates of each other, they won’t be flagged and you can be sure that your information isn’t at risk of being trashed.

Checksum/Content

This is also a great method of comparing files. All files have checksums and, in theory, no two are alike, which means that the dupe app you are using will find it really easy to pick out the doubles.

So now you know what you should be looking for, why not take a look at the duplicate file tools we’ve got? Go on, after reading this article, you’re practically an expert – no dupe is safe!

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