Help! My Hard Drive Is Full!

It happens to all of us. You open your computer and start uploading your vacation photos, and a window pops up telling your hard drive is full. Now what?

If you don’t do anything, your computer will continue to slow down until it stalls altogether. It’s time to do some clean up.

In this article I’m going to walk you through a step-by-step process to tidy your hard drive. It’s going to take a while – especially if you need to go through lots of photos or videos – so give yourself an evening and do it while you catch up on some reading.

You can check your disc space on a Mac by:

  • Clicking the Apple icon on the top left to bring up the Apple menu
  • Selecting About This Mac
  • Selecting the Storage tab in the new window

You can check your Windows disc space by:

  • Opening File Explorer (the Windows icon on the bottom left)
  • In the Search bar, type This PC 
  • The window that pops up shows the free space on the hard disk under the Windows (C:) drive.

Now, onto the clean up. Follow this step-by-step system for freeing space on your hard drive.

Empty Your Trash and Recycling 

No kidding!

On a Mac, you have a Trash Can, and on a PC you have a Recycle Bin. They live on the top left corner of your desktop. This is where everything goes when you delete it, and it may be why your hard drive is full. To empty them, right click and select “delete forever.” 

Emptying the trash / recycling will keep your computer from getting bogged down with unwanted files. You should make a regular practice of this, as the fuller the trash is, the longer it takes to empty. 

Clean Up Your Downloads Folder

If you’re like most people, your downloads folder has been sitting unattended for quite some time. It’s as easy to ignore as that mess in the Trash or Recycle Bin. It’s time to sort and delete. 

Movies and other videos, photos, music, and software take up the most space on your computer’s hard drive, so you’re going to need to decide what stays and what goes. Open the downloads folder on your computer, then click and drag to sort the files you want to keep into their respective media folders. Delete the rest. 

Clean Up All of Your Media Folders

Now that you’ve sorted everything out of your downloads folder and into their respective media folders, it’s time to go through the media folders and clean out all of the unwanted files. There will be more than the downloads you just sorted into these files, so don’t overlook this step!

Backup All of Your Media To an External Hard Drive

I recommend doing this regularly anyways, because if your hard drive were to fail (it happens!), you’d lose everything. 

You can get an external hard drive for under $100. I recommend buying one with a terabyte of space so that you can keep adding to it over time.

Delete Temporary Files

Temporary files from web pages are stored on your computer, and if you use a Windows computer, you have to delete them manually. A Mac computer will delete them automatically.

To delete Temporary Internet Files on your PC, open the Windows icon on the bottom left side of your screen and search for Internet Options. In the first window that pops up, open the General Tab, find the Browsing History, and click Delete. In the second window that pops up, check the following boxes and then hit Delete again. 

  • Preserve Favorites Website Data
  • Temporary Internet Files And Website Files
  • Cookies and Website Data

Tidy Up Your Cloud Storage

Almost done!

If you don’t use cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive, you can skip this step. If you do use cloud storage, go through all the folders and delete any files you no longer need.

Empty Your Recycle Bin Again And Restart

Now that everything’s been moved around, it’s time to empty the Trash or Recycle Bin once more and restart your computer. If you’ve removed enough files, you won’t get the disc space error.

Do this regularly, and you’ll keep your computer from getting bogged down with a lot of unneeded files.

If your computer is still running slow, or if you’re still getting the error message, it may be time for some software upgrades. Call me for an appointment, and I’ll get you sorted!