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Cleaning Space on Your Computer

We get a lot of visits and calls from people who indicate that they are running out of space on their hard drive and they don't know why.  The obvious culprits are movies in their iTunes library and the thousands of cat pictures they've downloaded from the internet, but some times they have other things hanging around.  Here are a few suggestions on how to identify and clean up some of those space hogging items:

Windows

  • Disk Cleanup - This is the best place to start once you've gotten rid of the obvious culprits.  It will scan your computer for files that Windows knows sit around for a while and then it will clean them out.  You get the most benefit if you allow it to clean up system files too, as this can have lots of old backups and log files that it otherwise won't clean out.  If you aren't sure how to access Disk Cleanup, try Googling 'Windows Disk Cleanup' and looking for directions for your version of Windows.
  • Add/Remove Programs - You'd be surprised how many people have old programs installed on their machine that they don't need.  By cleaning out ones you are sure you don't need, you can open up some space also.  **NOTE - Don't just delete every program that shows up that you don't know what it is.  Some are necessary for certain functionality on your computer.  If you aren't sure about something, don't be lazy.  Google it, see if it's something important, and make an educated decision.**
  • Search Your Directories - We've used a program called Treesize Free (https://www.jam-software.com/treesize_free/) to identify where space is being taken up.  We've run in to some machines with 100GB of log files.  Extreme overkill.  (You probably don't need any more than a week old.)  This program shows you usage by directory and allows you to drill down in to those directories to see what is using the space.  Once you've identified the culprits, you can remove the files if they are unnecessary.  **NOTE - Don't just delete a directory because it takes up space.  Again, use Google to check up on files or file types to see what they are used for.  It is NOT a good idea to delete your Windows directory just because it takes up space.**

Mac

  • Empty Your Downloads - You really shouldn't be using your downloads folder for storage.  So once you've moved the files out of there that you truly want to keep, clean it out.  Right click on the icon and choose open "Downloads" to see a list of what all you've been hanging on to for no reason.  After you've moved stuff you want to keep, movethe rest to the trash.
  • Take Out the Trash - Don't be lazy.  Do your chores.  Just because you deleted something doesn't mean it's off your machine.  It holds it in that trash folder in your quick launch bar until you are really, really sure you don't want it any more.  Right click or hold down a left click on the icon and choose to 'Empty Trash' when you know you don't need it's contents any more.  It's much easier than walking the can to the curb.
  • Display Directory Size in Finder - Aside from that I don't have a ton of tips to give you on the Mac side.  The best advice I've come up with is to display your directory sizes in Finder and then drill down to see what's taking up space.  Instructions on how to do this (it's easy) can be found at http://dailymactips.com/display-the-size-of-all-your-folders-in-the-mac-finder-window/.  **NOTE - Just like on the PC side, don't delete everything that takes up space.  Google it.  It may be important.**

So, recurring theme here...  If you aren't sure whether something taking up a lot of space is important, Google it before killing it off.  If Google isn't helpful in determining whether it is necessary, stop by and see us.  Maybe we'll know something Google doesn't.