Like the proverbial hall closet, your internal drive — whether platter-based or solid-state — can hold only so much.
It’s not just a space issue; an overstuffed drive can affect system performance, too. Here are some tips to reduce the clutter.
Not so long ago, I seriously thought that hard-drive cleaning was a dead topic. After all, hard-drive capacities were easily exceeding Moore’s Law, and prices were falling faster than a notorious energy company’s stock. Conventional wisdom was to simply purchase a bigger drive.
But then solid-state drives (SSDs) and online storage services went mainstream, and gigabytes became expensive commodities once again. So I’m back to helping people clean house (metaphorically speaking, of course). Now that we commonly store our data both locally and in the cloud, the need to toss out bits has never been greater.
Remove Windows’ own garbage stashes
We’re not the only ones who tend to collect unneeded data; Windows and our applications tend to keep outdated files. Let’s start by getting rid of no-longer-needed system, update, and temporary files.
But before we do, make a full backup of your system — or, at the very least, create a restore point. To do the latter, enter “restore point” into either the Start menu search box or the charms bar’s Search. When the “Create a restore point” item appears, click it. (Alternatively, click Control Panel/System/System Protection.) Under the “System Protection” tab, click the Create button and fill in a description, as requested.
Now that you’re protected from overzealous cleaning, it’s time to remove programs that you no longer use. Go to Control Panel and open the Program and Features tool. Next, scroll through the list of installed software and look for those you no longer use. I suggest clicking the list’s Size column header; that’ll move the biggest space wasters to the top of the list. Right-click any unwanted applications and click Uninstall. Keep in mind that you can uninstall only one program at a time, so make sure Windows has finished removing a program before right-clicking another.