Looking for utilities to quickly and easily find duplicate files and photos on your computer? I recently organized all of the data my dad kept on multiple computers and multiple external hard drives into one secure backup location, but found that almost everything was duplicated. I had no way of manually determining what was the same and what was a duplicate, so I went ahead and tried a couple of duplicate finder programs.
In this article, I will mention the ones I used and give a quick overview of how the program works, its effectiveness, and any issues I encountered. It is worth noting that you should never completely trust the results of a duplicate finder, because there are always scripts that can confuse search algorithms and give false positives. Therefore, always check again before deleting anything.
Also, it goes without saying that you should definitely back up all data before starting this process, just in case. After making sure the correct data has been deleted, you can get rid of the original backup.
If you are looking for some of the most useful Windows software tools, then you should first look for NirSoft. One of their tools is SearchMyFiles, which is essentially a super search for your local files and folders. It has many filters that let you search by pattern, file date, file content, file size, file attributes, and more.
It also has a search mode called duplicate finder. After you download and run it (no need to install), just click on the dropdown at the very top and change the value to find duplicates.
Then you choose the base folder you want to start searching from. As you can see, the rest is self-explanatory. If you’re only looking for duplicate files and want to find all of them, don’t change your filters or settings. By default, they are set to search for everything. If you want to limit the types of files scanned, you should use filters.
Go ahead and click Start Search and you will see the results in a pop-up window. I tried my tests on the sample photos included with Windows 7 and they worked pretty well. Even though the filenames were different for the photos, it looks like duplicates are only detected by size. If they are the same size, the files are considered duplicate. When I resized one of the photos, they no longer appeared as duplicates, although it was the same photo, just a different size.
This search method is good, but it is not ideal for photographs because there may be times when you have the same photo with two different names or the same photos in different sizes. I also ran into problems with documents that had the same content and even the same name, but were slightly different in size and therefore did not appear in the results. It would be nice if they also show files with the same name, even if they have different sizes.
It really depends on your purpose, but I will mention other programs that search differently, in case that is not what you are looking for.
Duplicate Cleaner Free is slightly better than NirSoft because it has more advanced options for search criteria. First, you have to choose whether you want to find files with the same content or ignore the content. You can then also choose options such as the same file name, similar file names, and the same size.
Using these criteria, you can perform more advanced duplicate searches, such as finding all files with the same name, but not necessarily the same size, and finding all files with the same content, but not necessarily the same name.
After you choose your search criteria, you will need to add search locations. Go ahead and navigate to a folder, and then click the little arrow button to move that folder towards the “Search Path” side.
When you’re done, click the Scan Now button at the top and the results will appear in the Duplicated Files or Duplicated Folders sections.
Now, to get rid of the files, you need to click the little magic wand icon next to the Selection Assistant, click Mark, then Select by Group, then select all but one file in each group.
This will mark all but one of the files in the duplicate group. To remove duplicates, you need to click the circular file delete icon at the top. You can also mark files according to different criteria, but this is the easiest way to get rid of duplicates.
You may have also noticed that the picture mode and sound mode in the search criteria work very well, but not all features are free. The picture mode option is the best, but it requires you to purchase the $ 30 Pro version. I highly recommend Pro to anyone who really has to deal with a lot of duplicates, including photos and audio files, because I used it and it saved me a lot of time that the free version couldn’t.
In picture mode, you can find similar pictures even if they have a different resolution or have been rotated or inverted. Audio mode will let you search for duplicate songs by metadata for free, but if you want to compare actual audio data, you’ll have to purchase the Pro version.
Fast duplicate file finder
If you just want to find exact duplicates, then Fast Duplicate File Finder is a good choice. The free version will allow you to find unlimited exact duplicates, but only 10 groups of similar files. The functionality of similar files is very useful because it can help you find documents, such as Word documents, that are exactly the same in content, but for some reason have different sizes and other minor variations.
However, this functionality, along with some other features such as filters and the ability to remove duplicate files, will set you back $ 40, which is too expensive for a program that simply finds duplicates. However, the free version does an excellent job of finding exact duplicates.
Just click Add Folder at the top to select the folders you want to search for duplicates in, then choose a search method and finally click the Start Scan button. By default, the free version gives unlimited results for 100% identical files, which means they must be exactly the same size.
Again, this program didn’t show me two Word files with the same name and the same content because they were slightly different in size. When I selected the Similar Files option and set the Similarity to 75%, it showed them correctly. However, the free version will only show 10 groups of similar files, which is a little annoying.
Overall this is a good program, but only useful for exact duplicates. Works best with multiple copies of images, video or audio files, but worse with documents.
It has a funny name, but Anti-Twin is another good duplicate finder that has a clean interface and doesn’t try to bombard you with ads. As with most of the other programs mentioned above, it cannot completely catch all duplicate documents unless you search for an identical file name. Duplicates with a different name are rarely found with documents, so these programs will still work for most people.
In Anti-Twin, you have to select one or two “base” folders and then several options. If you have two folders in the main folder, you can simply select the top-level folder as the base folder and then check the Include subfolders box. Then you must select only files in different subfolders for comparison.
If you have two folders that are in completely different locations, select one base folder, then select the Second Folder checkbox and select the second folder as the other base folder. Then you have to check the box Only files in different main folders. You can also select Compare All Files to compare everything in base folders and / or subfolders with each other.
For comparison methods, you can either Compare Names, Compare Content, or compare both. Note that if you check both boxes, the comparison will be before the AND operation, which means that both criteria must match in order for them to appear as duplicate.
Click the Search Duplicate Files button and you will be taken to the next screen where you can see the results. What I really like about this program is the ability to compare images (in pixels) when looking for duplicate images. Typically, if you have two identical images, but one has a lower resolution, you will need to click Compare Content and then select the Compare Images (Pixels) radio button. Decrease the percentage to 95% of less and then search.
As you can see, I had two files with the same name but different sizes due to the resolution. When you decrease the match percentage, you will see a new checkbox called inc. 100%, which will basically show you images that are also exact copies. Otherwise, you will only see similar, but not exact matches.
So, you have four programs that have different advantages and disadvantages, but get the job done. There are many other duplicate remover programs, but many of them have ads or come bundled with unwanted software. If you have questions or concerns, please leave a comment. Enjoy!