Download & Run CCleaner
There’s a lot of crap on your hard drive. Guess what the C stands for in CCleaner?
CCleaner is a free program that removes the files that accumulate as a byproduct of using the Internet. If you haven’t run a program like it and if you haven’t recently cleared the private data from the TOOLS menu in your Internet browser, you might be surprised how much crap this program deletes from your hard drive. We could be talking gigabytes here.
CCleaner also scans for and repairs issues with your registry, which is normally foolproof as long as you allow it to back up the registry (it gives you the option automatically). The program is also packaged with a program uninstaller, but you should use your operating system’s built-in utility as described below.
Uninstall Programs You Don’t Use
There’s bound to be some programs on your computer that aren’t being used, but sorting through them and deciding which ones should go can be a hassle. The best way to decide? If you’re using Windows, navigate to Control Panel> Uninstall Programs (the wording may be different on your computer) and click the tab labeled SIZE to rearrange the programs so that the largest file appears first. Video games and programs that came pre-installed on your computer are going to be your best bet for knocking out the biggest space wasters.
Download & Use DiskView
You took care of the programs and most of the files associated with them, but you still have a lot of files you need to get rid of. Video, music, etcetera: it all takes its toll. And you may be surprised to see you have no idea where most of it came from. (It happens to everybody.)
DiskView isn’t freeware, but there’s a thirty-day trial. As long as you get in the habit of maintaining your hard drive space after you used it the first time, you may never need to use it again (basically, I’m telling you that you can probably get away with never paying for it). What does the program do?
Simple: it shows you a pie graph representation of your hard drive. You click the larger slice and it shows you another pie graph, and you keep clicking the largest slice of pie to wind your way down through your directory and find the largest files. It’s like a big file detector that’s totally easy to use and completely efficient.
Defrag Your Computer Before Going to Bed
Why do you need to defrag?
Imagine your hard drive is a long length of magnetic tape and everything that you download is “recorded” to that tape, one file right after the other. Now that you’ve deleted a lot of stuff, it’s no longer a continuous stream of data; you’re left with a bunch of gaps in between the things you chose to keep. Whenever you download something in the future, the hard drive might store it in those gaps instead of just storing it all at the end.
Defragmentation basically reorders everything and removes the gaps. This makes for a healthier hard drive and frees up larger chunks of space instead of leaving it all split up. Defragging is essential to the optimization of your hard drive, especially if you haven’t ever done it before. Just don’t defrag too often because some experts think this puts strain on the hard drive. Strain could mean a shorter hard drive life.
Maintain Your Computer
Now that you have a hard drive that seems good as new, you need to keep it that way. Don’t download indiscriminately. When you get bored, take the time to delete some of the smaller files you may have missed the first time you used DiskView. Always keep an eye out for programs you’re not using and clear the private data from your Internet browser often.