Clean the junk – free up the space

Many of us wonder where our ever scarce HDD space is being occupied … There have been cases when the physical sum of data on a drive mismatch with what is shown in drive properties. There must have been a few who were even given a low disk space warning for system drive. Though the visible data is easy to manage, just back it up if required and then delete from your HDD, but the issue is regarding what that is hidden to mankind …!!

In this post we will see how we can free up space on your system, particularly the system drives and learn about system services that eat up space.

Step1: The first simple task when you notice space being hogged in your system drive is to uninstall unnecessary programs. The regular add and remove programs wizard isn’t good since it leaves behind zombie files and registry entries belonging to the uninstalled application. This is where Revo Uninstaller comes into picture. Apart from running regular built in installer, Revo uninstaller also scans for and removes left over files and registry entries. Using Revo, remove all those programs that you don’t use.

Revo has another option to clean junk files as well … Click on Tools option … Click Junk File cleaner … Click scan … After scan finishes, a list of junk data is displayed. Delete them … Often those are prefetch files and thumbs.db files. They sometimes even sum up to a few hundred MBs in course of time.

Step2: Seek substitutes for bulky programs, those which are light on resources and consume less space as well. I prefer these ones-

  1. CD burner XP: CD burner XP is all loaded burning solution for your digital media, which in contrast with Nero, occupies just a mere 7 MB space. Only little requirement is that you need any of the dot net frame work installed.
  2. Foxit reader: This PDF reader occupies just 5-6 MB of space, in contrast with Adobe Reader, which occupies at least 150 MB of space.
  3. Media player classic: The K lite Codec pack is a all loaded solution for playing all media formats, instead of keeping installed all sorts of players.
  4. AVG Internet security suit is also lite on resources and space as well, occupying 50 MB on HDD … It has protection that when combined with its ease on resources, makes it preferable over McAfee and Norton sorts.

Step3: Temporary files created during browsing and installing applications stay in your temp folder for a long period … If disk cleanup wizard is being ignored, they can keep on collecting and often eat out a good chunk of your HDD space. Install CCleaner, it is a really good tool to delete temporary files and clean junk from registry as well. It cleans browsing history as well. Run it aleast twice a week to keep your HDD free of junk.

Also empty your virus vault, delete application reports etc.

Note: EUsing free registry cleaner is a great application to clean your registry. You can use it in combination with CCleaner to keep your registry clean.

Step4: Windows services too eat up space on your HDD. System restore and space allocated to recycle bin are two major space eaters.

System restore is by default enabled on all drives and is allocated 12% of HDD space. This means for a 320 GB HDD, 38.4 GB is being reserved for system restore. And similarly, recycle bin is also given 10 % of your HDD space on a global pattern by default. If you seldom use recycle bin function, like many of us does, it is best to allocate it really less space to save it for other useful purposes. System restore too can be allocated lesser space. A recent most restore point is a point of interest; more space allocated just means more restore points, which occupy space even if you never use them.

The space can be claimed back easily. Right click on recycle bin and go to properties … There, on a global pattern space is allotted to each drive, just change it to what you think best suits you. If you never use recycle bin, assign it a really less value.

Similarly you may change the system  restore allocated space. Just right        click on your my computer icon,    select properties, click on the System  restore tab. There you may disable  system restore on non system drives  and set it to 1-2% on the system drive.

Step5: Hibernation service too, if  enabled on XP (By default active on  Vista) consumes a space  equal to your installed RAM on your  system drive. Weigh your options, do  you really need this service? If not,  you may disable it … In control panel, go to power options, in hibernation tab, and uncheck the enable hibernation option.

Step6: Virtual memory equal to 1.5 times your RAM is allotted on your system drive by default. This is to facilitate operations in case you run out of RAM … If you already have 2 GB plus RAM, then you can set it equal to your RAM size. That too it is recommended you shift the assigned space to non system drive to boost performance, and hence, also, free up space on the system drive.

Right click on My computer icon > click properties > Go to advanced tab > Under performance section, click settings > Select advanced tab > under virtual memory section, click change.

Disable it on system drive and allocate it to some other drive where space is plenty.

Warning: NEVER disable it fully or assign it really low. In case you have sufficient RAM, like 2 GB plus, only then set it equal to your RAM size. Else, for less than 1 GB RAM, you may better assign it recommended 1.5 GB of space.

Step7: Now for something that may be eating the maximum chunk of your space on the system drive, your documents. By default, your ‘My documents’ are being saved in the documents and settings folder in system drive. Every thing you save in My music, My pictures, My videos etc goes there. Many applications too save their files in your documents location, including download managers, torrent clients etc. The solution is to simply change the default location to non system drive where space is plenty. This also saves your data in case you were to format your system drive. Once default location is changed, all your data is automatically transferred and now on all your data in stored at the new location.

Simply right click on My documents link in start menu and select properties. In target folder location, select move and browse to the new location, a non system drive where space is plenty. Set it there.

Step8: After the above steps, this is time to launch an offence against junk manually. Many applications leave their installer backups, settings files, temp files behind when they were removed normally. Probably there may be plenty of them in your system drive. Go to folder options > view > check show hidden files and folder > uncheck hide extensions of known file types > uncheck hide operating system files … Apply. Now enter your system drive.

You can now see the system hidden files too. If you have not shifted page file or not disabled hibernation, you can now see a hibernation.sys file and pagefile.sys file. Also the system volume information and recycler folders are visible. So are some other files like ntldr, autoexecute.bat etc. DON’T delete them!!! They are required by your system.

Get into the ‘documents and settings’ folder and your user folder. There enter local settings > application data. There carefully check if there are any folders of applications that aren’t installed at present and delete them. Also browse the installed application folders and delete any installer backups. Move your way around, slowly you will learn what is important and what is junk.

This way you can free up space on your system drive. The best bet is to arrange your data in an organized manner, this makes it easy to manage it and take backup or delete what you don’t need. Happy shifting!