Add More Disk Storage Space

Q. I’m running out of disk space on my desktop computer and I don’t want to buy a new machine or go through the trouble of installing a larger hard disk. What options do I have?

A. You have at least two options. One is to comb out all those unnecessary files and applications that are probably crowding your hard disk. While cleaning is easy and costs you nothing, as a practical matter, it won’t gain you very much space.

Adding external storage is the best longer-term solution. In effect, what that does is add another drive to your computer. So, for example, if your main drive is C:, adding external storage will give you a D: drive, which can be the location for both files and applications. You can then either download many of your less frequently used files and store them on the external drive or you can leave the external drive semipermanently attached to your desktop and actively work on files or even new applications stored there. Adding an external memory is very inexpensive, easy to do and will not even slow your computer.

Let’s talk about cleanup now. It’s something you should do under any circumstances because it’s just good housekeeping. All computers create temporary files as you work. In theory, Windows should get rid of them when they are no longer needed, but Microsoft, being what it is (slightly buggy), often leaves its detritus behind.

Many utilities, such as Norton, have functions that let you perform a cleanup with just a few mouse clicks. Windows also has a fairly automated method; to activate it, follow these steps.

Go into Explorer (or My Computer on the desktop), right-click on your main drive icon (it’s probably C: ) and choose Properties (see screenshot above).

Then click on Disk Cleanup , which produces the screen wizard at left.

Notice at the top of the screen that the wizard indicates a complete cleanup would free as many as 314,078 kilobytes of disk space. But it’s not prudent to remove all “unnecessary” files; some are still useful. Here are the ones I would remove (by placing a check in the adjacent box): Temporary Internet Files, Offline Web Pages, Debug Dump Files, Recycle Bin, Temporary Files, Temporary PC Health Files and WebClient Publisher Temporary Files. Leave the others alone; you may need them in the future.

If your version of Windows lacks this wizard, you still can do the same cleanup, but it’s going to require a few more steps. Go to Explorer and click on the Search icon, producing the screen below.

Under What do you want to search for? click on All files and folders . Under Look in :, use the down arrow to set the selection to C:, or just type it in. And then, under All or part of the file name: , type in *.bak, *.tmp, ~*.* (see screenshot below). That tells Search to locate all backup (bak) and temporary (tmp) files and any copies of files Windows accidentally left behind (signified by the tilde (~)). The asterisks (*) are wild cards, telling Search to find any files with those attributes.

Then click on Search and wait for the files list to appear. Don’t remove any temporary files dated as recently as yesterday. To find the older ones, click on the Date column to sort the files in date order. Then select the first file you want to delete, hold down the Shift key while hitting End (which takes you to the end of the list) and press Delete. Don’t panic if you get a message that one of the files is in use. Just repeat the process as many times as necessary. When that’s finished, click on your Recycle Bin and empty all those just-deleted files.


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