If you’ve had your computer or laptop for more than a year or two, you may find yourself looking for ways to clear up disk space before installing a new program. And although the cost of hard drives continually goes down while the size goes up, you may not want to deal with the headache of installing a larger hard drive and then transferring your files to it. Even on the fastest of machines, it could take between several hours to more than a day to transfer an old hard drive to a new one, depending on the amount of data being transferred.
Instead of picking and choosing what gets deleted and what stays on your computer or laptop, try out these four ways to easily clear up disk space.
1. Windows Disk Cleanup
Windows has a built-in Disk Cleanup utility that will safely remove unnecessary files from your computer, including your internet cache, Recycle Bin, dump files and temporary system files–the total of which may be claiming a big chunk of your disk space.
Disk Cleanup is the first defense in the battle against low disk space, so be sure to run it by typing Disk Cleanup in the Start Menu. For more information on how to set it up to run automatically on your computer or laptop, read our post titled TIP: Use Disk Cleanup to Clear Up Disk Space on Your Laptop.
2. Move your Documents to an external drive
One of the easiest substitutes to installing a new hard drive to store your documents a high-capacity external drive. External drives are very inexpensive, very easy to install and typically several times larger than your computer or laptop’s internal hard drive.
In order to save space, however, you’ll need to move your Documents, Music, Videos and Photos folders to your external drive. To do this, press Windows Key + R at the same time to bring up the Run window. In the “Open:” field, type %homepath% and press OK.
A Windows Explorer window will appear, displaying your My Documents, My Music, My Videos and My Pictures folders, along with a few others. Starting with My Documents, right-click on the folder and select Properties. In the Location tab, click Move and choose your external drive for the new location. It may take a bit, but when it’s done, Windows will have moved your My Documents folder to your external drive. Repeat this process for each of the remaining folders: Music, Videos and Photos.
Now that you have an external drive with your important documents and files on it, you will want to have a backup of it (if you don’t already). Try using an online backup service like Backblaze to automatically backup your files to the cloud.
3. Use the cloud
Another easy option for moving those large files off your hard drive is to move them into cloud, accessing them only when you need them. You won’t incur the cost of buying an external drive, so this solution is ideal on a budget or if you have large files that you don’t always need instant access to.
A few good places to look for online storage would be Box, Google Drive or Dropbox. For music files, try Amazon Cloud Drive. For photos, Picasa and Flickr are great choices. You’ll have to set these services up to only store your files online, otherwise you’ll still have copies of the files left on your computer.
4. Uninstall programs you don’t use
The last tip we’ll go over today is to remove programs you either don’t want or don’t use. To view a list of programs installed on your computer, type Add or remove programs in the Start Menu.
Browse the list of programs and Uninstall programs you don’t use, games you don’t play, software for printers you no longer have or trial versions of programs that have expired. If you notice you have two different programs that do the same thing, remove the one you don’t want. The idea to keep in mind here is digital Spring cleaning… If you haven’t used it or don’t foresee yourself using it in the future, then you can probably uninstall it.
If you’re still experiencing low disk space after using these tips, Minneapolis-based OAC Technology can review your computer and provide personalized recommendations that fit your needs. With our Desktop and Laptop Support, we can help clear up disk space, install hard drives, transfer and backup files, remove viruses and malware and optimize the settings of your computer to ensure your computer runs better than the day you bought it.