We’ve all been there: no matter how large your hard drive seemed when you first bought your computer, you get the dreaded error message that your available storage space is shrinking. Even worse is the slowing speed!
Unfortunately, the more we use our computers, the more we fill them up with clutter, unimportant files, and unnecessary programs that make it harder to use them. Even after you do a basic cleanup to delete some of your files, you may struggle to find enough space to do what you want on your device.
If you’re in this situation, here’s what you should know about how to free up space on a computer.
1. Empty Your Trash
When you’re trying to clear out your computer storage, it’s always a good idea to start with the basics: your trash. Emptying out your trash is a fast process, and depending on the number of files you’re storing, it may be enough to free up a significant amount of space.
Keep in mind, of course, that deleting items from your trash will remove them from your computer permanently. If you’re not sure you’re ready to do so, consider combing through your files before you delete all of them.
2. Uninstall Unnecessary Applications
How many of your applications do you actually use? If you’re like most people, it’s not uncommon for you to install an application for one-time use, or to lose interest in old applications. This is why it’s a good idea to check your installed apps from time to time.
Comb through your list of applications to see if there are any that you haven’t used in the past six months to a year. If you come across any, delete them. You should also delete any apps that came pre-installed on your machine—also called bloatware—as long as you aren’t using them.
3. Do a Disk Cleanup
Windows computers come with a built-in disk cleanup tool that can make your work a little easier. This utility can help remove cache, temporary, and log files that you no longer need without deleting any of your personal files or programs.
For Windows 10 users, the disk cleanup process is straightforward. All you’ll need to do is search for and select the program on your system, freeing up disk space automatically.
4. Clear Old Files By Hand
If you prefer not to do a full disk cleanup, or if your computer doesn’t support this process, you can still clean up temporary files by hand. To do this, delete unnecessary cache files and consider removing unneeded files from your downloads folder.
If you want to remove duplicate files, consider installing a program like Duplicate Sweeper to find and erase them for you.
5. Remove Browser Files
Depending on your internet habits, major browsers may store gigabytes worth of files such as caches, internet history, preferences, and cookies. Deleting this information can help free a great deal of space on your computer.
The steps to remove these files will differ from browser to browser. In general, however, you’ll want to go into settings to clear your browsing history, download history, cookies, and cached files. For more information on removing cookies from your device, visit https://setapp.com/how-to/clear-cookies.
6. Move Your Files From Your Device
If you want to free up significant space, it may be time to consider moving your personal storage. For items you don’t want to delete, storing them off of your device can give you some much-needed space—especially if you own copious amounts of images, videos, music, and more.
There are two main ways of doing this.
First, you can transfer your files to external storage. This would require buying a USB drive or an external hard drive, for example, to store your files. This option is a great choice if you want to keep your files close for constant access and total privacy.
Second, you can transfer your files to cloud storage. This allows you to keep your data on remote servers, meaning you’ll only be able to access them when you’re online.
There are countless options when it comes to cloud storage. Basic files and documents transfer well to services like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. If you have larger videos or numerous files to store, however, you may need to consider a more robust service or pay for upgraded storage.
7. Defragment Your Hard Drive
If you have a Windows device, you may find that your disk becomes “fragmented” over time. This occurs after long periods of saving and deleting files.
Fortunately, there’s a quick fix for this: the Defragment Disk application. This tool can analyze which of your drives needs defragmentation and can move files around to free up space for you.
If you own a Mac, you’re in luck. Macs have anti-fragmenting properties built in, meaning you’re not likely to run into this issue.
8. Add More Storage
If you’ve exhausted all of the steps above and still feel like you don’t have enough space on your device, it may be time to consider adding more storage. If you don’t have enough space built in on your device, it may be possible to buy more and install it yourself, or to pay a service to do it for you. This is only possible on certain devices with space for the installation, so Mac users and certain PC users won’t have this option at all.
Know-How to Free Up Space on a Computer
Whether you own a Mac or a PC, it’s crucial to know how to free up space on a computer. Understanding how to clear up outdated or temporary files is a great way of speeding up your device, and safely storing your personal data can help protect and back up those files. Make sure you take time to free up space on a regular basis for the best results!
Want more tips to help you make the most of your devices? Check out our other posts for additional insights!