Help! I'm Running Out of Disk Space

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

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HELP! I'M RUNNING OUT OF DISK SPACE
  I have a solo operation and my three-year-old computer’s hard drive is filling up fast. Short of removing those digital snapshots of the kids to make room for clients’ files, what options do I have? To complicate things, my hard disk came divided into two partitions, an 80-gigabyte C drive and a 20-GB D drive—a very inconvenient arrangement for a non-techie like me because I have to move back and forth between those two drives to access files. I thought of merging the partitions, but I’m told it’s a risky—and complex—operation. What do you suggest?

First I would recommend you spring for a new computer. A three-year-old machine with such a small drive is probably underpowered to begin with. So even if you solve the disk-capacity shortcoming, you’re operating a computer with minimum horsepower and storage space, and that means you’re working under a severe handicap.

However, if you’re intent on keeping your computer, there are several things you can do. Probably your best choice is to invest in an external hard drive that plugs into your computer via a USB cable. The installation is simple: It involves just plugging it into any USB slot in your computer. Once plugged in, your computer will probably immediately recognize it—identifying it as the E drive. I’d suggest a drive with storage of at least 400 GB. There are many excellent products for just a few hundred dollars. Some external drives even have automatic backup software built in, so not only will you be getting more storage space, but you’ll get a bonus of an automatic safety net, too.

Now, with so much extra storage, you may not even want to bother repartitioning your computer drive because, since a good remote is blazingly fast, you can load all your data files onto it and work with comfort.

But if you still want to eliminate the partition, I’d suggest you buy a special utility that minimizes the danger and makes the task very easy to do. There are several good programs available. I’ve used Symantec’s Partition-Magic (www.symantec.com), which costs $70.

By the way, if you decide to buy a new computer, I’d still invest in an external drive. You can use that space to store your automated backups with room to spare for those snaps of the kids.

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