[xplorer˛] — Discover duplicate songs
home » blog » 12 December 2010
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You can't have too much of a good thing but having two or more duplicate versions of the same file on your computer isn't contributing to more happiness, it is just a waste of storage space. If you have 1TB of music in your hard disk are you sure that you don't have the same MP3 songs in more than one location? For duplicate files it's definitely a case of the less the merrier. But as with all exceedingly good ideas, discovering and removing duplicate files is easier said than done.

xplorer˛ has a tool that checks for duplicate files (Tools > Check duplicates menu command). You invoke it from the root folder e.g. C:\users\nikos\my music then it extracts recursively all the contents of the subfolders in a scrap window and then you pass your duplicates detection parameters. The dialog (see pic) looks simple but it packs a lot of strength.

How do you define a duplicate file? Clearly 2 files having the same Name and same byte Size (in MB) are most probably the one and the same, but things aren't always that easy. What if you have the same song twice but with slightly different filename? (e.g.
duplicate checker parameters
Desire.MP3 and the same as U2-Desire.MP3). You could possibly compare just the byte sizes — but 2 songs of the same duration (length) and same bitrate will have the same size but they are not necessarily the same! How about something even trickier: the same song encoded in a different bitrate, so it will have different size, how do you deal with this scenario?

The parameters in the duplicates checker dialog are flexible enough to cope with all eventualities. You just tick all the file attributes that make sense and find your duplicate files, for example:

  • To find exact duplicates tick Name, Size (and perhaps modification date) boxes
  • To find the same file with a different name clear all options except for Content tickbox
  • To find a similar file that's probably the same song (but you can't rely either on its name or size) use the Audio title property

This means that you may have to do more than 1 pass to dig up all the duplicate files, each time using a different set of detection parameters. Keep in mind that the bigger your file collection and the more complex parameters you use, the longer it will take for xplorer˛ to finish the scan (e.g. checking file content will take ages).

Let me explain a little the trick with the Audio title property above. Most MP3 music files have valid ID3 tags (you will need the audioshell extension to use them) that may be less variable than filenames. So the same song may have the same Audio title ID3 tag despite having different filename and bitrate. Or maybe it doesn't. We are trying to make use of a specialized property of the type of music files we are working with. The duplicates checker dialog supports other custom file attributes (columns/details) that may be useful in other situations.

Confused? Here is an explanatory demo video

To close this subject if you sometimes need to have the same file in multiple locations (for ease of access perhaps) then instead of copying it use links for all the copies. There are many types of links from a regular windows shortcut to advanced types of hard and symbolic links (look in Edit menu). But I digress.

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