From the Kenosha News on 9-9-07

Clean up your computer if you’re out of drive space

      It happens to most of us eventually – we fill up our hard drive.  If your hard drive is getting full, your next software install might not work, and your computer will run slower.  To see just how full your hard drive is in most versions of Windows, double-click on my computer and then look for your hard drive (C:)  Right-click on it, and click Properties.  You’ll see a pie chart that shows what portion of your drive is used and which part is available.   Most computers only have one hard drive, but check if you have a second one labeled D: or E:.  Remember that all software needs to put at least some files in the Windows folder on C:, so even if you have a second hard drive, you’ll run into problems when your C drive becomes full. 

      When your drive gets 75% or more full, you should take action to free up some of its space.  Understand that document files, like those created by Word, Works, or Excel are very small and you’d need to delete dozens – even hundreds – of them to make any appreciable difference.  On the other hand, software is often very large, and deleting a couple of unused programs can make a pretty big difference. 

      The first option is to “clean house.”  To remove unnecessary or unused programs, go to the Control Panel and select Add/Remove Programs.  Look for items on the list with the larger sizes.  Click on an item to see how often Windows think you use it.  “Rarely” is less often than “occasionally;” look at the date it says you used it last.  Note that Windows often underestimates how often you use something, so be careful.  It shows that I last used Dreamweaver in August of 2005, but I know that I used it today.  Watch out not to delete something that might be important, like your anti-virus or a web plug-in like Acrobat Reader.  

      You may also have a large amount of unnecessary files in your web browser’s cache.   The cache is a collection of copies of all of the web pages you have recently browsed.  How you delete them depends on what browser you are using.  Look for an option that says “Empty cache” or “Remove Private files.”  You can also set the size of your cache to store less of these files and take less space.

      If you’re storing digital pictures or music files, those can be large.  Video files can be even bigger.  These are candidates to move to another location like an external hard drive, a CD or DVD, or a USB device (often called a RAM drive or thumb drive.)  You can even use your iPod as an external hard drive.  (You can find these instructions on my web site at sabbarpublications.com/newsarchive.html.  For info on saving to CD, click on the article from 3/13/05.  For info on how to save to an iPod, click on the article from 6/25/06.) 

      Next week’s article will specifically discuss external hard drives and how to select these.

by Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 9-9-07