Making Room for More Hard Disk Space

The hard drive on my laptop was getting so tight for space I couldn’t even carry out some of the simplest tasks because there was only limited room for a swap file, temporary files were not being written properly, and the machine could no longer hibernate. Worse still hard drive crunch meant even the simplest of simple tasks were dragging their collective heels.

Time for a clearout. Recycle bin emptied, temp folder cleared, a few unused programs removed, cookies crushed, internet temp files and caches removed. Wow, I saved all of 40 megabytes! That’s as much space as their was on the first PC I bought for professional use way back in 1990. There had to be more junk lurking in deep folders that might be worth checking over and deleting as necessary but how to find them without having to trawl through every section of the disk’s rank and file.

In steps, the free application WinDirStat available on the open source software repository A quick installation, and hit the button to scan the C: drive and you’re up and running. After a few moments, the programs PacManic icons will have munched their way through your files and folders structure and a 2D map is created showing space hogs. There were quite a few. Several ancient backup folders, some dating back to the mid-90s, were quickly archived to CD-ROM and deleted from the hard drive. There were also quite a few movie clips and other miscellaneous downloads that snuck into my precious disk space over the last year or two, all watched, all now deleted.

However, there were some big splodges of color representing gray areas on the hard drive, on closer inspection they revealed themselves to be Google Desktop caches and indexes from a couple of previous installations of said search tool. These too were quickly archived and deleted. A similar reconnaissance showed that previous versions of Thunderbird and Firefox had also left a few cobwebs, which were also brushed aside.

A kick of the recycle bin and a check mark to show free space revealed that I’d cleared out almost 12.5 Gigabytes of wasted space. There are many other big blobs of color in WinDirStat’s drive map that I will attend to later and hopefully clear a few more megabytes. The next stage of the clear out will involve properly organizing the photo collection on this disk ready for archiving, but now that I’ve cleared enough space to allow applications to run properly again, I better get back to some real work rather than worrying about old holiday photos and family snapshots.

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Photographer and musician.