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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Running Out of Space on your Hard Drive?

Is your computer running really slow? Have you received error messages when downloading or installing applications? You may be running out of space on your hard drive. Before you go out and buy a new hard drive or a new computer all-together, there are a few things you can do to fix the problem in the meantime.

<strong>Running out of Disk Space?</strong> First, take a look at the disk space. Double click on the My Computer Icon on the Desktop, or click on the My Computer icon located in the Start Menu. (In Windows 7 and Vista, this has been changed to Computer.) Locate the hard disk drive. It will most likely be called Local Disk (C:). Right click on the drive and click on Properties. If the free space on the computer is less than 15% of the total space, you will need to clean out the computer. (For example, if you have a 100GB hard drive, you will need a minimum of 15GB free in order for the computer to function properly.)

If you need to free up space on your computer, then here are just few things that you can do.

Download and run CCleaner. This is the easiest and fastest way to free up the hard drive.

<strong>Running out of Disk Space?</strong>

Disk Cleanup
From the Local Disk (C:) Properties dialog box, click on Disk Cleanup or go to the Start Menu -->All Programs -->Accessories -->System Tools and choose Disk Cleanup from the menu. Run Disk Cleanup.

<strong>Running out of Disk Space?</strong> After it has finished calculating how much space will be freed, you will be prompted to choose the types of files you would like to delete.

Check all the files in the list. (Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Offline WebPages, etc.)

Note: I will often leave “Office Setup Files” unchecked. This can be useful if you do not want to always look for the Microsoft Office Installation Disks every time you need to run a repair or make changes to the Microsoft Office Installation.

Click Yes when asked if you want to perform these actions.

This may take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours depending on the speed of the computer and how much needs to be cleaned up. (If you have already run CCleaner, it will not take as long.)

Delete Unnecessary and Temporary Files

Go through the folders on the hard drive one by one and delete unnecessary files.
  • Do not delete anything in the Windows directory.

  • Do not delete anything in the Program files directory (yet).

  • Do not delete anything that you do not recognize, just in case it is a necessary file.

  • What you can delete are temporary folders (for example, c:\TEMP), document files and downloaded files that are no longer needed.

  • You can also download a hard drive visualization program, such as WinDirStat, to help you determine which files and folders take up the most space on the hard drive.

<strong>Running out of Disk Space?</strong>

Add/Remove Programs
Open CCleaner and click on the Tools tab on the left hand side. Click on Uninstall. If you do not want to download and install CCleaner, you can use Add/Remove Programs located in the Control Panel. Uninstall any unnecessary programs.

Once you have uninstalled those unnecessary programs and restarted the computer, you can go into the Program Files folder and search for the folders that contained these programs. If they are still in the Program Files folder, you can delete them.

Move Files to a New Drive

If you have purchased a new hard drive, then you can begin moving over some of the files.

<strong>Running out of Disk Space?</strong> One of the easiest things to move over is the My Documents folder. From the Desktop, right click My Documents. You can also access the My Documents folder from the Start Menu. From the right-click menu, choose Properties. In the Target tab, click on the Move… button and choose a new location for the My Documents folder on the new hard drive.

You can also move over documents, downloads, and other files that are located in folders other than the My Documents folder.

If you have to move over programs, you will need to uninstall them from the old hard drive and reinstall them on the new hard drive. Sometimes, you will have to choose custom or advanced settings for the installation in order to install the program on a drive other than the C: Drive.

Compress Drive to Save Disk Space

If you still need to free up some room on the hard drive, you may want to consider allowing Windows to compress the drive. If you go back to Local Disk (C:) Properties, you will see an option to Compress drive to save disk space. Once you check this box and click OK, the drive compression will start. This process may take hours, but will free up room on the hard drive. The drawback is that files that have been compressed may take longer to open.

If you don't want to compress the whole drive, you also have the option to only compress files and folders of your choosing. For example, if you want to compress the files located in the My Documents folder, you would right-click on My Documents and click on Properties. In the General tab, click on the Advanced button. Under Compress or Encrypt attributes, check the option to compress contents to save disk space.

<strong>Running out of Disk Space?</strong>

Once you have completed these steps, you should run Disk Defragmenter. You can find Disk Defragmenter in the Tools tab of the Local Disk (C:) Properties dialog box or in Start Menu -->All Programs -->Accessories -->System Tools.

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