Hard drives run better when you don't stuff them full of junk. Just because you have the disk space doesn't mean you have to use it all up. This weekend, get your drives in order and clear out the unnecessary crap.
Tidy Up Your Files
Obviously you'll free up the most disk space by getting rid of files you don't really need. Sometimes, it can be hard to part with your much-loved files, even if that means migrating them to an archival disk somewhere else. Naturally, you want to have everything you might need at your disposal but to tidy up, you need to make some tough calls.
First, just like you would with clothing in your wardrobe, find anything you haven't used in a year. All you need is an advanced search on Windows or OS X. You can also use similar searches to find large files (say, over 1GB) and throw away as many of those as you can. You should also seek out duplicates, but you'll need special software for that. Duplicate Files Search (free) works on Windows, OS X and Linux and can handle the job, though you may prefer Duplicate Cleaner on Windows and Gemini for OS X. For more tidying tips, check out our complete guide.
Clear Out Lingering System Files
Operating systems don't always clean up after themselves as well as we might like, and regular maintenance can help free up quite a bit of disk space. Additionally, third party apps can leave remnants in places you don't necessarily check so it helps to perform a thorough cleaning occasionally.
When you have an app you want to get rid of you shouldn't throw away just the files you know about. Instead, you should get your hands on a great uninstaller to handle the task for you. We have recommendations for both Windows and OS X to get you started.
As for your system, performing maintenance tasks can help clear out caches and other crud. Follow our guides on Windows, OS X, and Linux to handle that. Windows 7 users should also make sure they install the Windows Update Cleanup to save several gigabytes of storage. Finally, if your system is just too bogged down for you to handle, you can always perform a fresh install.
Get More Space
When you need more space and you've removed everything you can, perhaps you need to just add more. Hard disk space doesn't cost too much these days. Start stocking up on external drives if you have a lot you want to save.
If you just have a tiny drive, consider upgrading it. It's not too difficult in most desktop computers and even some laptops, but you'll run into trouble with Macs. That said, we might be able to help if you have an iMac or MacBook. You can even add a second hard drive (or SSD) to MacBooks if you remove the optical drive. If you're sick of not being able to upgrade as you please, however, it might be time to build a hackintosh.
You don't have to resort to buying hard drives, however, as you can get lots of space online through these great storage services. Some offer lots of features, while others offer tons of free space. Combine a few and you can offload a lot of your cold storage to the cloud.
For more ways to clean up, fix, and upgrade your hard drives, check out more of our favourite tips. Have a great weekend!