Running Out of Space On Your Computer? Here’s What to Do

Computer users create and consume a lot of data, all of which needs to be stored. Without storage, it would be impossible to download videos, pictures, files, documents, music, or games.

As you use your computer, continually creating and saving new data like family pictures, videos, and work files, it’s easy to forget that hard drive space is finite. That is until you hit the limit and can’t download the latest video game you brought or save the project you’ve been working hard at on Photoshop. Luckily, if you find yourself in this situation, there are several easy ways to clear and maintain hard drive space.

Delete Unused Programs, Data, and Files

Whether intentional or not, computer users tend to hoard data. It could be files that you forgot to delete or no longer need, but it all adds up over time.

When it comes to storage, size matters more than quantity, so a folder filled with hundreds of pictures can be smaller than a single video file. The same principle applies to programs; a web browser is smaller than advanced video games. So if you need to create space by deleting files, start with larger applications. But remember, you should only delete files, data, or programs that you no longer use and are unlikely to need in the future.

Create Regular Backups

You likely have a lot of data that you want to keep safe but don’t need to access frequently. For example, old family photos are wonderful to have, but you likely don’t need hundreds of these images saved to the device you use for everyday work. A solution is to create a data backup, preferably on an external storage device like a USB, hard drive, or cloud service.

To create a backup on Windows 10, you can:

  • Open the Start Menu
  • Choose Settings
  • Select Update & Security
  • Then click Backup

To make a backup on MaC:

  • Open System Preferences
  • Select Time Machine
  • Click on “Select Disk…” to select the backup destination.

If you’re unfamiliar with how to perform a backup, have thousands of files to backup, or need to backup multiple devices, the process can feel a bit overwhelming. In that case, it may be more efficient to seek help from a professional computer support and repair service provider. You can run an internet search for “find a computer tech near me” to find a convenient provider, but be sure to call ahead and ask if they offer backup services and can work with the type of device you have.

Add Additional Hard Drives or Solid State Drives

A hard drive is where your computer permanently stores data such as documents, media files, and software applications. A hard drive is nonvolatile storage because it doesn’t delete data when your computer shuts down.

Traditional hard drives use small magnetic fields on spinning metal platters to operate, while newer solid-state drives (SSD) lack moving parts and use flash memory to store files. Commonly, computers come with a single hard drive, while other devices like custom models will come with additional drives located inside the casing.

When adding space using a hard drive, you have three different options:

  • Replace Your Current Hard Drive with a Larger One– This is an option mostly for desktop users, as many laptops do not allow you to replace the hard drive.
  • Add Hard Drives Inside the Casing– This only works on desktops that come with additional empty slots.
  • Use an External Hard Drive– Using this method, you simply plug the external hard drive into the USB or Lightning port and transfer your files.

Move Data to Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a digital service that lets you access servers through the internet. The cloud stores data that you reach from any device or any location. Cloud storage is an ideal option for those who prefer saving all files and remotely accessing important information.

Cloud storage providers charge a monthly service fee. Some providers use a freemium model like Google and Onedrive, both of which have free plans that come with their email service. If you want more features (including expanded storage), these companies charge a monthly fee.

Making Room for More

Especially if you use the same device for entertainment and school or work, you’ll collect data quickly. While some files and programs you can delete without a second thought, others may be sentimental keepsakes or essential work data that need extra protection. To keep this data safe for years to come, you should back up your computer regularly and consider physical and cloud backups for your most important files.

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