How to Delete Duplicate Files

Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP

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Most computer hard drives end up with duplicate files on them in the normal course of operation. Users may copy photos, music or movies to different locations for sending/printing/storing. Moving application folders may result in duplicate files being created in two or more locations. Downloading software updates or any other files from the web, moving photos from camera to PC, making attempts to organize files on the drive with no clear plan will also often lead to file duplication. The problem can get especially critical with large media files, such as movies: having just one duplicate is already a big waste of space, but having a whole folder of movies duplicated can lead to a hard drive getting full very quickly.

Duplicate files can be cleaned out and their accumulation can be prevented with special software that detects and eliminates duplicates – download here.

The article provides details on the symptoms and causes of duplicate file accumulations, as well as ways to remove file duplicates from a PC.

Symptoms of duplicate file accumulations

The most common symptom of duplicate file accumulations is low percentage of free disk space remaining. Unlike plain temporary files or other regular junk files, duplicate files will take up more space, as each of them weighs the same as the original file. In the case of duplicate movie copies that weight can be several gigabytes for each file. When free space on a drive gets to a critically low level, you may experience errors, such as failed software downloads or installs, file copying errors, virtual memory errors and similar. Some symptoms of an almost full hard drive may not be attributed to it right away, such as longer antivirus scans or disk defrags, which happens because antivirus programs and defragmenters have to process more data, a lot of it being file duplicates. Another symptom may be a certain level of fragmentation that cannot be reduced by defragmenting, because there is no consecutive free space large enough to place the defragmented files.

Causes of duplicate file accumulations

Among the most common causes of duplicate file accumulation are user actions that lead to repeat downloads of the same photos, music, movies or other files. Other reasons for the issue may be malfunctions with software updates or efforts to organize files by an inexperienced user, who may copy instead of move files between locations. The files become more difficult to locate and remove when they get renamed by the user or the system in the process of duplication. For instance, a file is being copied to the same folder where it is located: the system will slightly modify the file name and the user may never realize it is a duplicate. When downloading a second or third copy of the same file or program from the web, the user may give the file a different name, which will prevent them from being able to identify the file as a duplicate later.

Ways to remove file duplicates from a PC

Even advanced PC users will have difficulty locating file duplicates, especially if they have different names. There is always a risk that a file that has the same name, but is not a duplicate, may get deleted in a cleaning spree that will result in various problems later on. This is why using special software to locate and delete duplicate files is the only sure way to avoid problems, such as important files getting falsely identified as duplicates and removed leading to data loss.

Safe way to remove file duplicates from a PC:

The same application can be used to run preventative scans to keep duplicate files from accumulating.