While it’s true that hard drives are now much cheaper than they used to be, adding a new drive isn’t always an option.
If you’re currently struggling to make room on your hard drive, our tips should help you free up extra space for your important files, photos, videos and music tracks.
Before making use of these tips, make sure you back up any really important files to a recordable DVD, external drive or USB key.
Step 1: Empty the Recycle Bin
When you delete a file in Windows it isn’t immediately wiped from your drive. Instead Windows moves it to the Recycle Bin.
The reasoning behind this is sound: it means that if you accidentally delete something you can just check the Recycle Bin to retrieve it.
However, it also means that if you don’t empty your Recycle Bin regularly it can end up taking up a lot of disk space.
Before empting it, open it up to check its contents to make sure you haven’t accidentally placed anything in there that you don’t want to delete, when you are happy click File – Empty Recycle Bin.
Step 2: Use Windows Disk Cleanup
Windows sometimes leaves temporary files and other bits of data on your hard drive that are not automatically deleted.
There’s a built-in utility called Disk Cleanup that you can use to get rid of them.
Open up the Computer window, right click on the drive you want to clean and select Properties. In the Window that pops up click Disk Cleanup.
If it asks which files you want to clean up choose ‘Files from All Users on this Computer’.
It’ll then scan your drive for redundant files and a pop-up box will appear asking which categories of files you want deleted.
Tick or untick boxes according to how much disk space you will save (it’s shown next to each file category), then click OK.
Step 3: Remove unwanted applications
Applications can take up a lot of space. If you have lots of applications installed on your PC that you never use, you could be wasting gigabits of space.
The good news is that removing unwanted programs is easy.
Open the Windows Control Panel and under the Programs heading choose Uninstall a Program.
Windows will scan your system and show you a list of applications you can uninstall along with an indication of how much disk space they are taking up.
If you find any programs that you don’t use, select them and then click on the Uninstall/Change button to remove them from your computer.
Step 4: Clear temporary files with CCleaner
Web browsers and other applications often store a lot of temporary data on your drive. They do this to speed up access to websites.
The best way to clean up this data is by using a free program called CCleaner.
Once installed, load it up and click on Analyze to scan your PC.
Check the results to make sure there’s nothing that it’s found that you don’t want to delete and once you’re happy click on the Run Cleaner button.
Step 5: Copy large files to another disk or partition
You’ll usually have multiple drive letters on your PC and often the one that runs low on space is the C drive.
Free up space on this drive by copying large files to another drive on your computer.
It’s easy to find large files on your drive using a free utility called WinDirStat. It’ll scan your drive and show you stats on which files and folders are taking up the most space.
Once you’ve found suitably large files, just copy them to an alternative drive on your PC and you’ll have plenty of free space again on your all-important C drive.