Review: Remove Empty Directories sweeps the trash out of your Windows OS
By Mark O'Neill
At a Glance
Works as advertised
Allows you to preview empty directories before deletion
Allows you to specify directories to avoid
On large drives, very difficult to determine if you are going to delete something essential
No backup/restore solution provided in case of accidental deletion
Remove Empty Directories is a small freeware program that hunts out and deletes empty folders to clean your system up. It works well, but would be better with a restore feature.
One of the downsides of using Windows is that, as time goes on, a lot of crud builds up in the nooks and crannies, eventually slowing the whole PC down to a crawl. One example of this is the empty folders left behind by things such as uninstalled software and temporary files. A small freeware app called Remove Empty Directories exists to make your PC experience that little bit easier.
RED is a very simple program with a very simple interface. And it should be; deleting empty folders isn’t complicated, just tedious and time-consuming.
After installing Remove Empty Directories, you first need to visit the settings and check /uncheck the options, according to your preferences. You can also construct a whitelist of directories and files that the app should leave well alone. Examples include cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, as well as temporary files that apps need in order to be able to operate.
When you have the settings configured to your satisfaction, you will then be asked to choose a directory or drive to scan. Since a lot of people choose to install Windows in the C drive, this is usually the drive with the greatest number of empty folders in it, but of course you can change the drive letter if you wish. All you have to do is click the “browse” button and navigate to the directory or drive’s location.
Then it’s just a matter of clicking “scan folders” and letting it get to work. RED will speed through the selected directory or drive, and color-coding each folder as it goes. It marks folders containing installed software gray, so RED’s deletion process won’t touch it. Folders marked blue are protected by the Windows OS, and again, will not be touched during deletion. The folders it marks red are destined for deletion; those are the ones you need to review carefully before committing them to the digital ether.
When the scan has finished, you will see the usual tree-like Windows directory structure, with each folder color coded. Focus on the red ones and see if there are any you want to keep. The ones you previously whitelisted will be protected, so check the other folders. This is where the app’s downside becomes apparent. You will have a lot of files to cast your eye over, and only a very small window to look at them with. It is not that difficult to accidently overlook and delete a critical folder that happens to be temporarily empty. So be careful!
Once you are convinced that’s safe to delete the red folders, click the “delete folders” button and the folders will be zapped into oblivion. When I tested the app, it deleted over 1,000 folders, which just goes to show how much can build up in such a short time.
RED is a really great program, but it would be even better if it provided some sort of backup option, so you could restore an accidentally deleted critical folder. But as it stands, it’s a nice little program run every few months to keep your Windows OS in tip-top condition.
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