One of the best upgrades you can make for your computer is installing a solid state hard drive. However, the increase in performance can quickly become hindered as your photo and video production software fills up your drives with temporary files and thumbnails. With the help of WinDirStat you can easily track folders hiding these temp files and take back control over your drives.
Photographers these days have to use more and more software in their digital workflow. Programs like Adobe Photoshop are great for editing single images, but if you need to batch multiple images or cull through full weddings containing 1000s of images then Lightroom is probably your software of choice. As photographers begin filming more and more HD video on their DSLRs, programs such as Premiere or Final Cut Pro get installed on work stations as well. Each one of these programs likes to save hundreds of files in "temporary" folders which if left unattended often take up permanent residence on your hard drive.
One of the most useful programs for identifying these temp folders buried deep in your operating system is WinDirStat (or Disk Inventory X if you are on a Mac). WinDirStat quickly scans your entire hard drive and shows you exactly which folders contain the bulk of your stored data. Once you have identified these folders, you can then clear out old and unused data such as temp files, cache files, thumbnails, render files, and auto saves.
One good idea one of our readers shared with me a while back was to create a single temp folder on an external or secondary drive labeled "Adobe Temp Files". You can then go into the preferences of all your editing software and redirect temp and cache directories to this one single location. Having one single folder for cached data makes it a lot easier to clear out every now and then to avoid your computer from becoming full of unused files.
Also, if you are like me then you might have a bunch of test render files or random screen capture videos on your hard drive that have been abandoned after you finish a project. So even if you have become familiar with the standard Adobe paths for temp files, you may find some unexpected files laying around that you meant to delete once the project was done.