When you have too much clutter stored on your desktop or laptop PC, you can experience some serious performance issues. If you’re experiencing lag, freezing programs, or difficulty finding important documents, it may be time for a thorough cleaning of your computer’s hard drive.
Here’s how to free up hard drive space on your desktop or laptop, even if you’ve never done it before.
1. Uninstall unnecessary apps and programs
Just because you’re not actively using an outdated app doesn’t mean it’s still not hanging around. Get control of your storage space by deleting unused applications that take up space.
To do this successfully:
- Click the “Start” button from your desktop.
- Select “Apps.”
- Then select “Apps and Features.”
- Sort by size to see which programs are eating up the most space.
- Get rid of any you don’t use by selecting the program and clicking “Uninstall.”
2. Clean your desktop
Many of us store everything on our desktop by default, but there’s a better way. Having lots of desktop clutter can slow your computer because these files take up operating memory to display all the time.
Consider deleting any files that you don’t need and move the rest to the Documents, Video, and Photos folders. You’ll free up a little space on your hard drive when you delete them, and those that you keep won’t continue to slow your computer down.
3. Get rid of monster files
Most computers are very efficient with how they store data, but some file types can suck up storage that you can’t spare.
To see which files are the largest:
- Open Windows Explorer (File Explorer).
- Select “This PC.”
- Type “size” into the search box on the upper-right-hand corner.
- You’ll be able to select between several categories of file sizes, ranging from “Empty” to “Gigantic.”
- Start with the largest files, checking to see if they are anything you need.
- If not, move to them your trash can and free your PC from the burden.
- Do this with all of the larger file sizes until you get your hard-drive space to a reasonable level.
4. Use the Disk Cleanup Tool
This handy utility comes standard in Windows 10 PCs and is a one-click solution to deleting unnecessary operating system files. Windows can recognize these for you and remove the ones it no longer needs.
Launch the Disk Cleanup by asking Cortana or selecting it from your search box.
Choose “Drive: C” to perform the task, which will take several minutes to complete - or longer if it’s your first time.
Note: Disk Cleanup Tool is not the same as the Disk Defragment Tool. While both are essential for optimum performance, the second tool helps manage important files without creating more room on your hard drive. Be sure to schedule both tasks for the best results.
5. Discard temporary files
Every time you visit a website, there is a trail of files left behind, such as cookies, images, and text files that make your next visit to the same site faster. If privacy is an issue or you need more space on your hard drive, there’s no need to keep these files around.
Each browser type has a different way to clear these files, so check your browser documentation for best results. You can also use the Windows tool to tackle temporary files.
Consider this as an opportunity to delete cookies, discard temporary files, and clear your cache, which will have an immediate positive effect on your browsing.
6. Deal with downloads
For anyone wanting to know how to free up space on a laptop hard drive, one of the simplest ways is to tackle the large list of downloads you’re likely have on your device.
Many of us have downloaded videos, music files, photos, and PDF documents that we may or may not need ever again. Some downloads are important, though, so take time to look in your download folder and move important files to the appropriate permanent folders.
Once finished, delete the remaining ones by selecting “All” and clicking “Delete.”
7. Save to the cloud
Finally, there may come a time when you can’t store everything you want on your desktop or laptop.
This is one of the reasons why experts recommend that you regularly backup important files to your choice of cloud storage service. Not only will it free up precious space on your hard drive, but you’ll be protected in case your hard drive fails, you lose your device, or other damage occurs that puts your data at risk.
However, it can be difficult to remind yourself to perform regular backups. Not doing it on a consistent basis can put your data at risk and lead to large amounts of data being transferred at once. To break up the task into manageable chunks and ensure that you don’t fall behind on your backups, choose the utilities built into most desktops and laptops designed to automate this process.
Both HP® and Windows services have their own solutions to keep data backed up. Check your settings to ensure that this is scheduled to happen at least weekly, if not every night.
If you only have access to metered internet service or need data to transfer quickly, consider transferring data to an external storage device. These are secure, affordable, and a plug-and-play solution to keep important files available when you need them.
Maintenance is vital
Freeing up space on your hard drive can take time, but it’s part of a regular PC maintenance plan for both desktop and laptop computers.
In fact, the more often you can do these tasks, the less time each will take - and the better your device will perform. Some additional tasks can help, such as deleting fuzzy or duplicate photos on a regular basis.
Don’t forget to permanently free your hard drive of all the files and programs you’ve deleted. A final emptying of the “Recycle Bin” is needed to make the trash go away for good!