When you're trying to install a program, save a large file or move items across hard drives, your Mac or PC might throw up a "not enough disk space" error. In many cases, you can solve the issue by getting rid of programs and files that you no longer use to clear up some space. However, the issue can also happen if some type of virus has caused infected files to fill up your hard drive. Therefore, you should do some research and troubleshooting to decide the best way to fix the error.
Not Enough Disk Space Viruses
Most often impacting Windows computers, space eater viruses can easily cause a not enough disk space error. The virus can cause junk files to duplicate themselves until the hard drive runs out of space. Check your hard drive through Windows File Explorer to see if you notice files that have odd names or aren't something you've saved or installed.
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A real-time antivirus program will usually catch this virus before it can cause damage. But if you didn't have anti-virus software installed, then you'll need to install one, run a thorough scan and let the tool delete the infected files. A computer technician can do some further troubleshooting if you don't have success on your own.
Using a Drive Cleanup Tool
Over time, your operating system and programs will build up caches, logs and other files that take up space. While you could go through individual programs or locate the files on your drive manually, you can save time with drive cleanup tools.
If you use Windows, search for Disk Cleanup in the search bar. You'll see options to have this tool get rid of logs, error files and temporary files, downloads, deleted items in the Recycle Bin and caches you won't need. After selecting the file types, you can click "OK" to start clearing them and freeing some hard drive space.
Macs don't have this kind of built-in tool, but you can find third-party options like CCleaner and Clean My Mac that have the same purpose (see Resources). These programs can not only delete unwanted system files and caches but also have options for third-party programs like browsers.
Uninstalling Unnecessary Programs
Removing large programs can help you solve not enough disk space errors rather quickly. You'll need administrator permissions to do this on a Mac or PC.
You can search for "Add and Remove Programs" on your Windows search bar, select the unwanted program and then click "Uninstall." Once you confirm, Windows will remove the application and possibly prompt you to reboot.
If you've got a Mac, you can simply close the app, find the app in the "Applications" folder, drag it to your trash can icon and then empty the trash. CCleaner and similar tools have a program uninstaller option with a button to click to remove each program for you as well.
Deleting or Moving Files
Old files like media, documents and downloads can easily lead to not enough disk space over time, especially if they're large. While it takes some work, consider going through your files and deleting anything that you won't need anymore. You can use the search and filter options in File Explorer or Finder to sort files by size and last open date to make the process easier.
If you have large files you want to keep, consider moving them to an external hard drive or using a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive. Setting up an external hard drive is often as easily as plugging in a cable and possibly using a utility that comes with the drive. If you opt for a cloud service, you get the additional benefit of having your files backed up offsite where they're less likely to get lost if something happens to your computer.
Upgrading Your Main Hard Drive
In some cases, you may have an old, small hard drive that just no longer fits your needs for the applications you use. In that case, installing a new hard drive yourself or hiring a professional may be worth it. Keep in mind that since you'll start with a clean slate, you'll need to back up all your data first. Both Mac and Windows have built-in utilities that can back up all your files and programs to an external drive for easy restoration.