How to free-up disk-space on your hard drive
Over time your hard drive can begin to fill up. You may see error messages that you cannot install new software, programs might crash, and if your available drive space drops below certain levels, Windows may actually begin to display messages that it's time to free-up some of your drive space.
Basic steps to regain hard drive disk-space
The first obvious step is to delete any unnecessary files. Some types of files such as video or music files tend to be very large and can quickly consume all of the hard-disk storage of a smaller hard-drive. To help make regaining hard disk space easier, Microsoft has put a Disk Clean-Up Wizard in Windows XP.
The Windows XP Clean Up Wizard performs the following steps for you
- Deletes Downloaded program files - these files are automatically downloaded by Internet Explorer and can be deleted safely
- Deletes Temporary Internet Files - Internet Explorer uses these files when accessing the internet. These files can be safely deleted
- Deletes Offline Web Pages - Pages that are stored for access while you are not connected to the internet. - These files can be safely deleted
- Empties the recycle-bin - When you "delete" a file, it's not really deleted (see our permantly delete files page for more info). Emptying the recycle bin frees up a large portion of storage space in your hard-drive
- Deletes temporary files - temporary files are created and used by Windows and can be safely deleted
- Clears/Deletes Web Client/Publisher files - These are temporary files that may be created if you use Microsoft web-publishing tools
- Offers to compress old files - Old files that you don't access frequently will be compressed so they take up less room on your hard disk. The trade-off is that performance can be affected when accessing these files.
- Other options - Depending on what Windows options and software you have on your computer, you may see other options to create more free-space on the disk. Click on the option to read the explanation.
Other options to free-up your hard drive space
By clicking the More Options tab you have the following choices to free-up even more disk space:
- Windows Components - This option allows you to remove components installed in Windows that you may not need
- Installed programs - This option takes you to the Add/Remove Software screen. You can uninstall software programs that you no longer need.
- System Restore - Windows Xp automatically creates system restore points. These restore points are snapshots of your system that can be used in the event that you encounter a serious Windows crash. This option will allow you to delete the older system-restore points. Only choose this option if you aren't currently experiencing system crashes or problems.
Get ready to clean up!
Follow these steps to access the Disk Cleanup Wizard (note: there are several ways to access the Disk Cleanup Wizard. Not all methods work on all computers. This method will work on all computers with Windows Xp installed)
- Find the My Computer icon on your desktop, or in your Start Menu double-click it to show the hard drives installed on your PC
- Find your primary hard drive, or the disk you want to regain space on (usually the "C:" drive) and click it with the Right mouse button
- On the small menu that pops up, choose Properties
- On the General tab, click the Disk Cleanup button (note that you can view the amount of free-space on your disk on this screen)
- Choose the options for disk-cleanup (explained above) and press OK
- Windows will perform the tasks and you should have a significant increase in the amount of free space on your hard drive
Now that you've deleted all those files, it's time to Defragment!
See or page on how to defragment to read about disk fragmentation and why you should defragment your drive, particularly after deleting large amounts of data.