How to: Free up hard drive space

Ever been just using your computer, and suddenly a message pops up saying you need more disk space?

Don’t fret, we’ve all got it at least once!  However, this is no need to run out and buy a new hard drive.  Sometimes, all you have to do is clean up.

A lot of the time, we download files to use once.  This leaves clutter in the download folder, so if you don’t need any of those, you can just delete them.  Often times for Firefox, the download folder is %username%\Documents\Downloads or %username%\My Documents\Downloads.  For Internet Explorer running in Windows Vista, you can find it in %username%\Downloads.  Just open these and delete any files you don’t need.

Another good cleanup tool is Disk Cleanup, which comes baked-in to Windows.  Under the Programs section of the Start menu, go to Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup.  Run it, and select what you don’t need.

As I was checking out this tool, I found something suprizing- I had over 7GB of junk in the Recycling Bin.  This included some dupes of vacation pictures and the Adobe trial downloads- nothing I care about.

Next up, take a quick jog around your computer.  Is there anything you don’t need? Delete old documents you know you’ll never need.  Of course, make sure you back them up first!  Clear out those videos you made when you were first trying out Windows Movie Maker. Uninstall those freebies you know you’ll never use.

Next on the path to recovery is to defragment your hard drive.  It’s under Start/All Programs/Acessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter.  What it does is it takes all your files that have been invisibly split across your hard drive and it de-splits and reorganizes them.  This won’t gain much space, but it will speed your file acess slightly.

Another space-freeing way is to use CCleaner to do the heavy lifting.

CCleaner is a system utilities tool that clears personal information, but that includes cache.  Once you download and install CCleaner from here (install the Slim version for no nasty toolbar) then open it.

You should select Cache, but DESELECT (very important!) COOKIES.  If you select cookies you’ll need to log in to every single site again, and reselect all non -logged in settings.

appsccleaner.png - upload images with Picamatic

On the “Windows” tab, select “Temporary Internet Files” and Recycle Bin” to save space without sacrificing some settings.

windowsccleaner.png - upload images with Picamatic

NOTE:  Check “Empty Recycle Bin” for more space-saving.

After no cleaning and no following of the instructions above, CCleaner is offering to save 7.7GB of space.  Even without the Recycling Bin, that’s over 1/2 a GB!  That doesn’t even include Firefox’s cache, which is because you need it to be closed to clear the cache.


So now we’ve cleaned and cleared, deleted and del… whatever.  Let’s check the numbers:


hddfreebeginning.png - upload images with Picamatic

And, of course, the AFTER:

HDDafter.png - Picamatic - upload your images

With over 70GB free, 7GB may not seem like a lot, but on my old laptop, I freed 12GB with this method.


This article has been contributed to dotTech by Locutus. It is copyright 2009 by Jean-Luc Picard (aka Locutus).  Any uses of this article outside of dotTech[.org] will be considered illegal.


This article is copyright 2009 by Jean-Luc Picard.  Any uses of this article outside of dotTech[.org] will be considered illegal.

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