If you have had your computer for a while, then you have likely built up a collection of files over time. We use our computers to store photos, videos, documents, and we install numerous programs to help make our PCs more useful.
Depending on how large your hard drive is, however, you will also likely see the “Low Disk Space” notification message pop up in your taskbar, no matter whether you are using the older Windows XP operating system or the newer Windows 7 OS. But what does this mean, and how can you fix the problem?
There are a variety of reasons why your hard drive may be running low on available disk space, though one of the most common reasons is a lack of hard drive maintenance. Don’t blame yourself, even those who consider themselves computer nerds do not always take care of their computers as they should.
Many of the daily tasks you perform on your computer will use up some amount of hard drive space, even if you just surf the internet. Every time you visit a website, cookies and temporary files are stored on your hard drive for quick access later or to save information (passwords, form fields, etc.).
Over time, without the use of maintenance tools like disk cleanup, not only will your computer eventually run out of hard drive space, but you may also experience a slower performance from your computer. This is due to the fact that a full hard drive requires extra time as if sifts through volumes of unnecessary information and old files just to find that picture of your family from last Christmas, or to load a program.
The Windows operating system is designed to run software stored on a hard drive. The hard drive in your computer is where all of the information and files that you access are stored. Most hard drives contain a physical disc inside that rotates much like a CD, but unlike the permanent storage of data on a CD, data on a hard drive can be written, accessed, and deleted.
So how then can you clear up some disk space for better performance and more space for storage?
One of the simplest tools to use is the free Disk Cleanup tool built into all versions of Windows (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7).
Microsoft has a great support article that can help guide you through the process of using Disk Cleanup.
If you have never performed a disk cleanup, you may find that running this tool can free up a lot of hard drive space for you.
If you still do not have enough free disk space after running this tool, you may need to backup and remove some files, or even uninstall some of your software.
If you know of some other great tools that can help free up disk space on your computer’s hard drive, please feel free to share in the comments below.