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Windows 7 - Cleaning Up Disk Space


Although today's hard disks are enormous and constantly getting larger, many of us still find ourselves running out of space to store ever-increasing collections of software, video games, music, movies and more. This is especially the case with laptop computers since they generally have considerably smaller hard drives than their desktop counterparts. Nonetheless, there are other reasons to free up disk space as well. Freeing up disk space helps to keep your computer running smoother and it greatly reduces the time it takes to defragment the hard disk. Follow the steps below to free up space on your hard disk quickly and easily.

1 – Remove Temporary Files
Type "Disk Cleanup" into the start menu search box and press Enter. Click "OK" to continue when the Disk Cleanup window appears. Windows will now calculate how much free space you can acquire. If you haven't run Disk Cleanup before or not for a very long time, it may take a minute or two before you can continue.
Check all of the boxes. You don't need any of these files, since they are all temporary files, junk files and other data which the computer no longer has any use for. The only thing you might want to check is the contents of the recycle bin since emptying it will permanently delete any files contained within. With all of the boxes checked, the amount of disk space you can free up will be displayed below. If you haven't run Disk Cleanup before, you'll probably free up several gigabytes! Click "OK" to delete the files.

2 – Remove Unused Programs and Features
Open Disk Cleanup again and click on the "More Options" tab. In the "Programs and Features" section, click on "Clean up." A list all of the programs and Windows features currently installed on your computer will appear. At the bottom of the window, it will tell you the total size of all of these programs and features combined. You should generally ignore this, since it is usually extremely inaccurate as it does not correctly report the amount of disk space taken up by certain programs.
Go through the list and look for any programs which you no longer need. To uninstall a program, simply right-click on it and go to "Uninstall." The program's installation wizard will appear, walking you through the process to uninstall it. This varies with each program but is normally fairly self-explanatory.
You'll no doubt see various programs in the list which you are not familiar with. This includes some Windows Updates, important system tools provided by your computer's manufacturer and more. Do NOT uninstall any program you are unsure about. Likewise, be careful when removing preinstalled software that came with your computer, since you may not have a backup copy if you change your mind later. Only remove programs which you are sure you don't need.

3 – Remove Old System Restore Points and Shadow Copies
Only complete this step if your computer is in good working order and you are sure that you no longer need the older System Restore points. While System Restore is an extremely useful feature in Windows 7, it can take up an enormous amount of hard disk space. While it is rarely a good idea to deactivate it, unless you're an expert user who is familiar with the risks, you should periodically delete old restore points, especially if you're running low on disk space.
Return to the Disk Cleanup window and the "More Options" tab. Simply click on "Clean up" in the "System Restore and Shadow Copies" section and Windows will delete all but the most recent System Restore point. You can often free up many gigabytes by doing this.

4 – Delete Old Downloads
If you download a lot of files from the Internet, your Downloads directory will eventually be packed full of files, many of which you no longer use. If you're often downloading torrents and other files, the amount of space taken up by this folder can be enormous.
By default, most browsers and other Internet applications designed for Windows Vista or Windows 7 place all downloads in the default Downloads directory for your user account. Some web browsers may download to a different folder, however. To get to the default Windows 7 download folder, simply type "downloads" into the start menu search box and press Enter.
If the folder is loaded with files, go through them and delete anything that you no longer need. If you're an active Internet user, you'll probably find that you can free up an enormous amount of space by deleting unused files from here.

 

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