How is your hard drive looking? Are you struggling to find places for those larger files? Are you afraid to try downloading any new large applications? Do you hunt for files to delete before adding anything new?
Squeezed hard drive space and lagging load times can be problems in computers (especially laptops and similar, portable options) with smaller hard drives that have trouble keeping up with the massive media files and album collections present today. The good news is that there are a few tricks you can use to help clean up your hard drive space — without spending any more money. The process depends on what type of operating system you have.
Cutting Down Space on Windows
Most Windows computers allow you to look at your current hard drive space by looking for the “This PC” drive or a similar drive. This is a great window to keep open, because you can check what effect your cleanup processes have.
PCs have an internal program that takes a close look at your files and recompartmentalizes them to save space — a lot like taking all the packages out of a big box and re-stacking them to make more room. This is usually called Disk Cleanup, and you can find it in your Settings or Control Panel. You should be able to specify the types of files that you want to delete, too.
For a more detailed cleanup, try downloading external programs like CCleaner. These programs add a valuable service: They help you delete temporary files and web caches that Disk Cleanup will not touch. Or, if you want to manage things yourself, open up your web browser and empty out your cache and cookies through its own settings. If you use more than one web browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) then remember to clear caches in each version.
Of course, taking a manual approach is also smart. Check your list of Programs and Features or Windows Store apps and see if you need all of them. Chances are good you can find a few to delete to help save space. Look for the “Size” feature or column that shows you exactly how much room each application takes up — this is also very handy when choosing what media files to delete. Big video and high-definition image files are hard-drive hogs and should be removed if possible.
When you finish, refresh your hard drive window to see how much space you have saved!
Clearing Up Space on a Mac
Take a look at your space by going to settings, or storage (typically found in the “About This Mac” section). Now, the processes to clean up your hard drive on a Mac are a bit more manual than cleaning up a PC, so you will probably have to use several different steps. First, go over to your trash and empty it out. Delete everything in there because Mac trash does not automatically delete until you tell it to.
Next, go to your download folder and start clearing out any unnecessary PDFs, photos, or videos. Sometimes your Mac will download these files when you try to view email files or other files, without you knowing about it. Spend some time in that download folder and get rid of unwanted files — then zoom back to Trash to delete them. Next, check out your iTunes and App store downloads. Sometimes multiple versions of these files will download when you buy something, so you will want to delete these as well.
If you love Apple and have lots of Apple products that you frequently back up on your Mac, then head over to iTunes (or the other appropriate app) and delete old versions of backups as necessary to free up more space.
Alternative Solutions to Clean Up Your Hard Drive
Sometimes clearing out and restacking all your old files just is not enough — you still have an uncomfortable slim amount of new space for your new media and apps. In this case, it’s probably a good idea to invest in cloud storage, network storage or an external hard drive to clean up your hard drive by moving files to other areas.
Cloud storage is available with many apps and services these days, and lets you store info online and access it from any device. External hard drives use either ports or wireless connections to connect to your computer or other devices around your house, and may well last longer than your computer if you invest in a high-quality model.