How to free up space on your computer
On a computer, we tend to store a lot of uninteresting things until we get stuck with a full hard drive. Don’t worry, here are our best techniques to easily free up space on your Windows PC.
Photo Christin Hume at Unsplash
No matter the size of your SSD or hard drive, your computer is never immune to the terrifying error message “ Mémoire pleine ”.
Whether it’s programs or games that sometimes weigh dozens of GB, an important audio or video library, or simply dubious files that have been in a folder for months, there are many possible culprits for this sudden filling of the hard drive.
We will see how to avoid one day receiving this error message by identifying the greedy files, deleting them, but also being sometimes more radical.
Identify and delete unnecessary files
We all have files on our computers or programs that we haven’t opened in months. What’s the point of keeping them if it’s not to make room for rien ?
Windows offers, through the Disk Cleaning Tool and the Storage Wizard, to identify the different documents that can take up space. If that is not enough, we have a third party software that could be of great help.
The Windows disk cleaning tool
For several years now, Microsoft has integrated into its operating system a disk cleaning tool that allows you to remove some unnecessary and unwanted files that take up space.
To launch it, open the Windows menu, type Disk Cleanup and open the first result.
A window will open with different types of files to select, among the files in the download folder, the content of the recycle bin or the temporary files, mentioning their size each time.
Clicking on Delete System Files will also scan files such as Windows Update, Windows Defender, etc. This can save a few more GB.
By selecting Delete system files, you can save even more space.
Select the items you want to delete, click OK and confirm by clicking Delete Files.
Windows 10 also includes another tool to save hard disk space.
Windows Storage Wizard
Microsoft offers a wizard in Windows 10 that can easily analyze your storage and classify it into different categories to help you find your way before doing your big cleanup.
To open this wizard, go to Settings, in the System category, and then to the Storage tab. The wizard will launch and start summarizing the “central” folders (such as Documents, Desktop, Videos, Music, etc.) and their size.
In our case, the heaviest case is that of software.
When you click on this category, all the installed programs will appear, ordered by size (if this is not done, simply set it up this way in Sort by).
Then take a look at the software you are not using and uninstall it to save precious GB.
However, be careful not to blindly uninstall items you don’t know, as this could be essential for the proper functioning of a component of your computer. It would be a shame to uninstall your fingerprint sensor driver or webcam.
Convenient for uninstalling heavy software, the wizard is less convenient for classic files, just points to the folders that take up a lot of space and redirects you to them.
The wizard only offers to open the folder in the file browser
In order to be able to analyze all the files on your hard drive, other software should help you.
TreeSize, the advanced storage assistant
First released in 1996, TreeSize is one of the most popular storage wizards.
Available in a free version (and a paid version that doesn’t give us anything we need for this tutorial), you will be able to identify larger files and folders more accurately.
Download and install it from the Jam Software editor website and then open it. You will find yourself in front of a list of many folders in the root of your hard drive.
The TreeSize interface sorts all the folders on your hard drive by size
Unroll the User Box and then the User Name Box.
You will see the size of all your folders, open the one you are interested in to see the largest files in it.
By scrolling through the different folders, large and unwanted files can be easily identified and deleted.
All you have to do now is, as with any file, right click and delete (don’t forget to empty the recycle bin later)!
TreeSize is very useful for identifying large files, but some programs like web browsers store files like cookies or caches that can eventually cause you to lose some precious GB.
Delete browsing data from web browsers
Browsing data is most often referred to as cache memory. They are usually partial backups of web pages that can be loaded more quickly on the next visit. It can also be the Internet history or files arbitrarily set aside by the browser.
In the case of Google Chrome, open the More menu by clicking on the three dots in the top right corner, scroll down through the More Tools menu and click Clear Browsing Data.
A new page will open and Chrome will ask you to choose what you want to delete, images and cached files usually take up the most space and can exceed a gigabyte of data if they haven’t been cleaned up for a long time.
Then click on Clear Data and that’s it.
In Firefox, open the More menu by clicking on the three lines in the upper right corner and click on Options.
On the new page, go to Privacy and Security and scroll down to Cookies and Site Data.
Click Clear Data, select Cached Web Content, and then click Clear.
Finally, the manipulation for Microsoft Edge is more or less the same. Go to the More menu by clicking on the three dots at the top right and click on Settings. On the open page, go to Privacy and Services and scroll down to Clear Browsing Data.
Click Choose Items to Delete, select Images and Cached Files and Delete Now.
With these techniques you should already be able to save enough space on your computer to be able to download your new 30 GB game without problems.
However, keep in mind that this is just a simple patch knowing that the cache will be filled again with every website you visit.
However, there is a more radical technique that consists of simply starting from scratch by resetting Windows and deleting all data from the hard drive.
How to prevent instead of cure
Finding yourself with a full hard drive is never inevitable, but it is possible to avoid this kind of problem by applying these tips.
Using an external hard drive
Instead of letting certain files take up space on your computer when you only need them occasionally, why not store them on an external hard drive that you can recover when you have them besoin ?
This way, you will be less likely to end up with a full PC hard drive.
In addition, external hard drives are becoming cheaper and can be found with a storage capacity of several TB for less than 100 euros.
Therefore, they can be used as a photo or video library or simply as a “warehouse” to avoid occupying an almost useless space.
In short, it is the perfect tool for syllogomania.
We have made a selection of the best external hard drives on the market to help you choose.
Cloud storage is your friend
Google Drive, Amazon Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. Many cloud storage services allow backing up files to the cloud rather than to a physical hard drive. This offers a number of advantages.
First of all, cloud storage is a safe way to back up your files.
Apart from hacking into your account, which would lead to the deletion of your data, you should not experience any unpleasant surprises.
These services are usually managed by Google, Amazon, Microsoft or other Internet giants that have infrastructures that guarantee that your files will not be moved.
You won’t have the risk that exists with a physical external hard drive, which is to see it get damaged and become unusable.
In addition, these services usually have complementary applications that allow you to integrate it into Windows Explorer like any other folder on your hard disk and synchronize some of them automatically.
The big problem is the need to have a stable Internet connection to access files, unlike an external hard drive that only requires a free USB port.
The best way not to overload the hard drive is to always keep it.
Be careful with the files you add to your storage and their size, delete them when you no longer need them and don’t leave them rotting in a lost folder among others.
You can also follow the above procedures even if the disk is not full, this will avoid future problems.