The Holiday season is just recently past, and a lot of good boys and girls will have gotten a PC game, application, or iTunes gift card in their stockings this year. However, in order to enjoy your new software or media, you have to have enough hard drive wiggle room to use it. To get the job done, you could set out to delete a score of chunky media files and sizeable programs that you only use on occasion. You could also opt to purchase and install a larger hard drive to solve the problem. Either of these plans will do the trick, but before you start working over your files with a machete or plug in any new hardware, we’d suggest taking a few minutes to read our handy three-step guide on how to free up some hard drive space on your desktop or laptop without being forced to delete any important files. Let’s get to work!
1. Disc Cleanup
No matter whether you’re a casual user or an enthusiast, your daily computing takes a toll on your hard drive. With all of the temporary Internet files piling up on your system, downloaded installation files, optional Windows components that you’ll never use, and Windows temporary files, it’s a wonder that any of us have any drive space left at all. To start whittling away at some of the unwanted bloat currently squatting on your hard disk platter, you needn’t look any farther than Windows 7’s Disk Cleanup tool. For a built-in feature, Disk Cleanup packs a pretty potent punch, and can start you off on the right foot to freeing up space. The fastest way to get cracking with Disk Cleanup is to simply type the program’s name into the Start Menu search field. Disk Cleanup offers you a number of options regarding which files to keep or delete from your hard drive (above). Just select the file types you want to do away with and click the OK button. Depending on how often you run Disk Cleanup, this operation can regain a lot of disk space for you, or a marginal amount. In either instance, it’s well worth the effort.
We always recommend building your own system, but we know that some people can’t resist the temptation to buy pre-built. If that’s the case for you, you’ve likely got some bloatware kicking around your system. Bloatware—or crapware, as it’s sometimes known—is the unwanted, mostly useless software that comes pre-loaded on your machine as a punishment for something you did in a past life. To get rid of bloatware, you could uninstall each unwanted application one at a time via the Windows Control Panel, or you can download the utterly awesome PC Decrapifier (free for personal use, $20 for commercial users, www.pcdecrapifier.com) and do away with it all in one go.
The software is a cinch to install, and provides options to run it as if it were installed on a new computer—with more robust bloatware-cleaning options—or on a computer that you’ve already set up and have been using for a while. Users are given the option of setting a system restore point to save your bacon should you run into any unforeseen errors while cleaning up your hard drive. After scanning your drive for suspiciously useless software, PC Decrapifier gives you the option to remove bloatware and other unwanted applications from your computer with no more effort than it takes to click your mouse a few times (above).
3. CClean Up Your Act
While some folks might find they’re able to free up enough drive space to run their holiday spoils by cranking on Windows 7’s built-in Disk Cleanup utility or PC Decrapifier, others whose hard drives are truly packed to the gills may need something a bit hardier to get the job done. For such troubled souls, we suggest CCleaner (www.piriform.com).
When it comes to cleaning and optimizing your PC, there are few more robust tools available than CCleaner, and especially not for the low, low price of free.
Warning: During the software’s installation process, you’ll be asked whether or not you’d like to install Google Chrome and make it your default browser (above). While we can appreciate the irony of being offered additional software while installing an application designed to remove bloat from an already overcrowded hard drive, you’re going to want to take the time to deselect the option to install Chrome before proceeding with your installation.
Once downloaded and installed on your system, CCleaner will make short work of just about anything you can throw at it (above). Available as either a 32- or 64-bit application, CCleaner will not only clean the temporary files, history, cookies, download history, and form history from most modern browsers, it will also rip right into Windows itself, purging recent document history as well as the OS’s Log and Temporary files. Once it’s finished with the usual suspects, you can also choose to set CCleaner loose on your Registry to remove unwanted ActiveX controls, ClassIDs, old file extensions, questionable shared DLLs, and broken shortcuts. If that’s not enough for you, the software can also remove temporary and recent files from a truckload of popular applications like Microsoft Office, Google Toolbar, and Adobe Acrobat. Best of all, thanks to another free download called CCleaner Enhancer (http://bit.ly/hngyWu), the program’s functionality has been extended to cover an even wider range of software applications, and also allows you to set up a maintenance schedule so CCleaner will clean and maintain your hard drive from here on through
Now that you’re armed with the tools you’ll need to get the job done right, there’s no excuse for you not to install your new software and get back to ignoring your family and friends.