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How can I free up space on my hard disk?

Answer: If you're running low on hard disk space, you might find that some programs won't install on your computer and you may not even be able to save certain files. To free up space, you need to delete files that you don't need.

Since the goal is to gain as much disk space as possible, you should look for the largest files that you can remove from your hard disk. Look for movie and audio files and large application programs that you don't need. If you are using Windows, right-click on the file or folder you are considering deleting and select "Properties..." The window that pops up will show you how much disk space the file is using. On the Mac, once you've selected the item, press Command-I to "Get Info" on the file or folder and the window that appears will tell you how large the item is. Both operating systems also give you the option to view file sizes in open windows, making it even easier to see how large files are.

Once you've located files that you can delete, drag them to the Trash (Mac) or the Recycle Bin (PC) and empty the Trash or Recycle Bin. Make absolutely sure that you don't need the files before you delete them, since you will not be able to recover them. After deleting some files, you can check your available hard disk space on Windows by right-clicking the hard disk (often called "C:") inside My Computer, and selecting "Properties..." On the Mac, just select the main hard disk on the Desktop and press "Command-I."

It will take a lot of small files (10 to 1000 KB) to free up a noticeable amount of disk space. Large files (10 to 1000 MB) will get the job done faster, and extra large files (1 GB+) will really give you some room to work with. Keep in mind, the more full your hard drive is, the slower it will run. Therefore, you should try to always have several gigabytes (GB) available, which will help you avoid file fragmentation. Additional storage options, such as internal and external hard drives are worth considering as well.

Published: April 11, 2005 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center