How to Clean Up Your Computer's Storage
It’s important to periodically clean up your computer’s storage so that you do not run short on space. This could slow down or freeze your computer. The hard drive on your computer stores everything you use, from your operating system and other software to your data and music files. You must clean out files that you no longer need in order to have more space on your computer and, ultimately, get your computer’s performance back up to maximum speed.
Clean Up Your Disk.
For Windows, go to "Start" and click "My Computer." For Vista, go to “Computer”.
In the "My Computer" window, right-click on the C: drive, which is the Local Disk (or Hard Drive), then select "Properties" at the bottom. A window will appear. Inside the Properties window, a pie chart will appear showing your computer’s capacity, according to free space and used space.
Click on the "Disk Cleanup" button. A list shows all the temporary Internet files that you viewed, program files that you downloaded, and temporary files that you saved. Decide which ones to clean out by looking at the options list and checking the box next to the ones you want deleted. If it says, “You can safely delete these files,” then check them.
Click "Clean Up" to delete the files. Leave the ones you want by leaving the box next to them unchecked. Click "OK." This gives you a little more space on your computer.
Put Files You Won’t Need for Awhile On a Removable Device
There are documents or files on your computer that you may not use frequently. Pictures, videos and music files use a lot of space on your hard drive.
In order to create more space, transfer those files to a CD, flash drive or other portable device to use later.
Go back to the original location of the files or documents and delete them.
Remove Programs That You Don’t Need
You may have old programs on your computer that you haven’t used in awhile and no longer need, so you should delete them to free up more space. Go to the "Start" menu, then click on "Control Panel."
Select "Add or Remove Programs" to see what programs are installed, then decide which ones to remove.
When you find a program that you don’t need or want, select it and click "Remove." The program will be uninstalled from your computer.
Defrag Your Computer
Your computer can reorganize your files by compressing them. Open the "Properties" box for your C: drive (see Section 1, Step 2 above). Go to the "Tools" tab.
Click on the “Defrag Now” button. This will analyze the space and data on your hard drive. It will take awhile.
Once finished, it will inform you if you need to defrag. If so, click on the "Defragment" button.
Check your "Recycle Bin" (there should be an icon on your Desktop) and make sure to get rid of your deleted files. When you delete files, they go into the Recycle Bin. That gives you time to decide if you really don’t need them anymore or if you need to restore them, but it also still uses some of your storage space. Decide which deleted files you don’t need. Select and click the "Empty the Recycle Bin" option on the left side of the window. This will permanently remove your deleted files from your computer.
Bookmark your search preferences. This has nothing to do with your hard drive, but it is a good way to store your Internet searches. Go to "Bookmarks" or "Favorites" at the top of the browser page. Usually the dialog box records the title of the web page, but you can type in any title that will help you remember what is on that page. Type the title of the bookmarked item.
Move, rename and delete the files and folders that you don’t want or need. The main folders on your computer are My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, Program Files, Temp and Windows. Keep them because they are general folders. There may be other folders, depending on what you have downloaded, with other files. Check inside those folders for files that you can move to the general folders. It might take awhile, but it will save you time when looking for them later. Delete any remaining files that you do not want or need.
Empty your Recycle Bin one last time.
Tips & Warnings
- Having too many files on your desktop makes your computer unorganized. Move the files from your desktop, storing them in My Documents, My Pictures or other folders. This will keep your files more organized.
- Do not delete any files or folders in your Windows or other operating system folder. These folders contain files that control the operations of your computer. Deleting them could create serious problems and might render your computer inoperable.
References & Resources
- Computer Clean-up Tips: Benefits of Regular Computer File Clean-Up.
- Microsoft XP: Recycle Bin overview.
- Watching the Net: 10 Ways to Clean Up, Organize And Save Space On Your Hard Drive.
- How to Easily Clean Computer Hard Drives: Clean Computer Hard Drive.
- The Elder Geek on Windows XP: Disk Clean-Up Utility.