Over the years, the size of the hard disc drive has increased quite significantly. It was only but a decade ago, when a 40GB hard drive was a pretty decent solution; today it’s not out of the question to purchase a drive with 1 TB of storage space.
However, despite all of that, it is still possible for the end user to use up all of their memory. The size of applications has also grown in tandem with the hard drives, and if you’re on an older machine or laptop, you can hit that upper limit pretty quickly. Even if you computer is not close to its limit, freeing up hard drive space can have a positive impact on the overall performance of your machine.
There are tons of third party applications that you can use to free up your hard disc space, but I won’t mention any of them.
Determine Hard Drive Space
The first thing you’ll want to do when you receive a low disc space warning is to determine how much of your space has been used up. This can be done, by doing the following:
1. First, make sure you have booted into your computer with administrative access.
2. Then press Windows Key + R, type … into the Run Command box and click on OK.
3. When My Computer loads up, you’ll want to right click on the Hard Drive in question and click on Properties.
4. The Hard Drive Properties applet on the General Tab will tell you how much Used space and Free space you have.
Use Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup is a built-in Windows tool, used for removing unnecessary and old files from your computer. Files contained in the Recycle Bin, Temp folder(s) and other areas of the computer, will usually hog up a considerable amount of hard disc space over time, fortunately, these files can be safely deleted.
Running this tool is fairly simply, just do the following:
1. Follow steps 1 – 3 of Determine Hard Drive Space.
2. Once your Hard Drive Properties applet has loaded up click on Disk Cleanup on the General Tab.
Note: Disk cleanup will now determine how much hard disc space can be saved; it can take several minutes to complete this process, depending on the system.
3. Once it has finished, it will load up Disk Cleanup, from here you can select the options where it has found potential files it can delete, then click on OK.
Note: Keep in mind that compressing files can take a considerable length of time, depending on the number of files it intends to compress. Only use this option if you have the time to wait.
As our computers age, they invariably end up with an assortment of applications on them, all of which we have installed, over that time period. These applications may be of really old games, outdated versions of productivity suites or just tools you installed initially so you could try them out.
Keeping track of all the applications you have installed on your computer is very important when it comes to maintaining its performance and health. To remove these programs, simply do the following:
1. First, ensure you have booted into your computer with full administrative privileges.
2. Then press Windows Key + R, this will open the Run Command box, then type appwiz.cpl into it and click on OK.
3. When Add or Remove Programs loads up, click on the Redundant Application, and then click on Uninstall.
Note: You may need to repeat this process several times, depending on the number of unnecessary or unneeded applications you have running on your computer.
Compress Your Files
All Windows operating systems use a file system that offers built-in file compression capabilities. With this feature you can compress files that you rarely use, while still being able to access them whenever you deem fit.
The only downside is that compressed files can take slightly longer for you to open them. However, if your computer is relatively fast, then you shouldn’t really notice it. For those users with pretty slow machines, it’s probably best that you stay away from this option.
Compression comes most in handy when it comes to archiving MS Office documents, those documents that you no longer open, but need to keep on your computer. Video and music files do not require compression since they are already saved in a compressed format. You should also avoid compressing system files and other application files, as this will slow your computer down quite considerably and in some circumstances lead to system errors.
To compress a file, you can use Disk Cleanup (which I’ve already mentioned), or you can do the following:
1. Boot into your computer with administrative rights.
2. Then right click on the File you would like to compress and select Properties.
3. When the File Properties applet loads up, click on the Advanced Tab.
4. When the Advanced Attributes box appears, tick the box next to Compress contents to save disk space, then click on OK.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website http://www.compuchenna.co.uk.