Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What do you do with the junk in your drive?

Ever noticed how your hard disk free space seems to shrink even if you feel you're "not really" creating or downloading lots of documents? The truth is that your free space really does shrink after some time. And that's usually due to 'junk' that gets created 'naturally', and tends to accumulate as time passes.

Here are some of the most common space eaters.... and a couple of suggestions on what you can do about them:

1) The ever expanding trash can
  • Reduce the trash size % if you have huge drives (10% of a 1TB drive is 100 GB of trash ya!!)

2) Web browser cache
  • Do a one-time review of the allocated size and then leave it alone
  • Many tools offer quick fixes to free up your HD by deleting the cache... which is kinda a con as when you start surfing, the cache will start building up again
  • Clearing your cache give a very temporary (and likely pointless) relief!

3) Review and spring-clean your temporary folders (not advisable if you're not keen on getting your hands dirty... or have no idea what you're messing with!!)
  • C:\WINDOWS\Temp -- look for fossils that take up lots of space. If you don't see anything big, leave the rest alone. They should clean themselves up. And, you wouldn't want to accidentally delete stuff which you actually need, like cookies.
  • C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Temp -- ditto above, except there are no internet files nor cookies to worry about here.
  • Temporary zip paths -- If you access a content within a zip file, and you close the zip file while the content file is still being accessed, that file will remain in the zip temp drive indefinitely, and you'll need to manually delete them.
  • Search for core-dump files -- especially important if you have buggy apps installed. These dumps are usually found in the application path of the offending application. Hint: files usually end with '.dmp' (I have 2 such nasty little Java-based apps which periodically generate multiple 100MB-sized core-dump files!!!)

4) Accidental copy and pastes
  • This can sometimes happen so fast that you don't realise you've just duplicated a whole bunch of files with an extra Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V combo
  • Unless you have a tool (see below), manually searching each directory and removing these duplicates are a real pain
  • Or if you are feeling lucky, do a search for all files starting with "Copy of...." and delete them!!

5)Forgotten ones and the useless extras
  • How do you delete extra files which you don't even know exists?
  • You need tools!

Hey, are you trying to sell me something?
  • No. Unless you consider introducing to you some of my favourite freeware tools as selling. :)

So what are they, come on, tell already!

  • Find out which of your folders are taking up most space. TreeSize Free is my absolute favourite freeware for this category. Its fast, simple and the visual presentation really helps.

As with most system tools, PLEASE READ CAREFULLY the instructions of each of the tools. You're deleting stuff here, so you don't want to mess up your system while spring cleaning okay? :)

Ridding your drive of crud is a good thing. But that's not all. There are other things you need to do too, to keep the HD spinning away hapily. I'll be covering a few other nifty tools in a future post!

( Due apologies to WLE and other Mac users -- can only blog on stuff I know about or have actually done... and I have not used a Mac since the days of the G4! Soli aah...)

8 commented:

Anonymous said...

Unlike Tiger, your recovery is swifter than anticipated! I had my 3D glasses ready when I typed your link but it didn't have the desired effect...

Well, I'm not a heavy user, to be honest. I surf, chat, Excel, Word, email, iPhoto and occasionally install stuff downloaded.

If I like the stuff, I keep it in the Application folder, if not, just delete. I'm sure some files are left behind, say in the system folders but perhaps not as much as Window apps.

My G4 has 80Gig and I'm struggling to even fill half of the space. 1TB is like space frontier to me..

Center Parted said...

Yeah, had to get back to posting fast -- the 'show' must go on!

Most of the reno was focused on the internal stuff which is not visible. The visible changes will be coming a bit later.

But yeah, no 3D glasses required still!

Anonymous said...

There is something i would like to do correction on ur article, hope u don't mind.

1. Trash Can/ Recycle Bin should be reduce until only 100mb is allocated to it. 100mb can keep lots of things, so there is no reason to put until 10%, that is too big.

2. actually there is not necessary for using any extra tools, firefox or IE itself have the option for u to clear up the cache files.

3. everything in the temp dir is safe to delete, so can delete them without fear. sometimes u might found that some of the files in it unable to be deleted, it is due to that file is still using. then just leave it. u will still able to delete it later on.
just empty the temp dir as u like as it is safe to do so.

5. no tools are actually needed. as long as u organize the files properly with categories, this won't happen. u should advice ppl to organize thier files to office documents in 1 folder, downloaded programs in 1 folder and so on, this will be able to avoid files duplication.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me, need to sort out the mess that's been accumulating in my foldersssss. LOL

Center Parted said...

Garfield, thanks for your comments. My response below...

1) That is precisely my point. I was recommending that we reduce the %. Setting the default 10% for a massive 1TB drive, for example, would be insane!

2) Again, my point exactly. Just get the size allocation done once and leave it alone.... I also said it is pointless to try and clear the cache.... as you rightly pointed out, the browser will keep the cache at that size.

3) You probably wouldn't want to delete some of your cookies in your temp directory. True, they're safe to delete, but that'd mean you have to re-do some of the web settings like iGoogle etc

4) was there a point 4? (grin)

5) Not quite sure if I understood you. Like me, I've got something like 12,000 work files... you're suggesting I organized it under one folder?

You must be a very organized person. And I'm glad for you that you don't need tools. Good for you!!

Center Parted said...

Hi CC, and if you install and uninstall programs a lot, the tendency to accumulate junk files is even higher... happy spring cleaning!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.

Center Parted said...

Hi there Nedra, nice of you to drop by! :)