If you’re like most people, the computers in your life tend to accumulate clutter over time. Hard drives fill up with pictures, videos, and all sorts of other files. If left unchecked the whole machine might even begin to bog down. It’s an easily corrected situation, if you know where to look.
First things first, assess where your storage capacity is being stressed. You could do this manually, searching the many folders and subfolders through Windows Explorer for big unused files, but that can be a tedious task. Fortunately, there are better tools! For this process I like to use WinDirStat: http://windirstat.info/
This little tool makes it much easier to see what you’re actually storing. It displays the content of your hard drive(s) in a directory list, for easy sorting, but it also has a graphical representation of those files. Individual file types are color coded and folders, including their subfolders, are grouped. I recommend turning on the “Show Free Space” setting, located under the “Options” menu, in order to get a better perspective on free vs. used space.
Once you’ve had a chance to look through your storage areas it should be obvious what is taking up the most space. Assess the usefulness of those items and see what can be removed.
Another great way to free up space on your system is to uninstall old programs that you no longer, or rarely, use. For most applications this is best done through the “Control Panel” using “Programs and Features”, “Uninstall a Program”, or “Add or Remove Programs”; depending on your Windows version / setup.
Windows also includes a Disk Cleanup utility that can remove unnecessary files for you automatically, freeing up space that may have otherwise been overlooked. To access this feature, open up My Computer and right click on a hard drive then select “Properties”. You’ll find the Disk Cleanup option under the General tab.
You should now be well on your way to clearing out the cobwebs from those old hard drives. If you’re still running low on space consider adding additional hard drives, upgrading to larger drives, or moving more material to off-system storage.