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How to Clean a Computer’s Hard Drive

By Hanna Welch | September 5, 2019 |

greater than 5 minutes

When a computer is cleaned and its hard drive is decluttered, you get more free space for better performance. If you would like to fine-tune your system for maximum results, you can use some of the techniques listed in this article.

One thing that everyone tends to overlook but needs to learn is how to clean up after themselves. The same goes for their computers. If you’re used to your computer, learning how to clean its hard drive is just like any other process. Nothing major. To have a fast and super-responsive system, you must always keep your computer clean because that reduces the pressure on your hard disk drive. Your computer will last longer if you clean it more often than not.

When and How to Clean a Computer’s Hard Drive

We all appreciate a super clean computer. We love and adore fast-loading or fast-downloading computers. And yet only a handful of us are prepared to put in the work to get themselves efficient systems that operate with ease. More often than we realize, if the CPU, memory and all other components are functioning well, the computer’s performance is always at optimum levels. However, to get to such a point, you need to put in the time and work.

Not everyone knows of this or is prepared to work for it, that’s why February 12 is recognized as National Clean Out Your Computer Day in the US and in some other countries as well. When a computer is cleaned and its hard drive is decluttered, you get more free space for better performance.

If you would like to fine-tune your system for maximum results, you can use some of the techniques listed below.

Cleaning Your Computer’s Drives

1. Uninstall All Unnecessary Programs

There are unnecessary programs that occupy your memory and cause your system to drag. You can opt to quickly uninstall such programs with ease.

On your Windows 7 desktop:

  • Click Start > Control Panel, then choose Programs and Features.
  • Click on the Size column to list your installed programs in size order. Uninstall large programs that you don’t really need.

When uninstalling programs on a Windows 10 desktop:

  • Right-click Start, choose Settings, then select Apps and Features.
  • Click the Sort by field, choose Size for the largest programs to appear at the top, examine the list, and uninstall the programs that you don’t want/need.

2. Use Disk Space Utility Programs

There are a lot of helpful utilities that can be used to keep your PC clean and performing at its best. You can select any utility program as long as you understand it.

Download and run your utility program to get the system scanned and cleaned out. You will surely find space hoggers in your system.

3. Analyze Your System

If your main aim is discovering how to declutter a computer, then you need to learn your system in detail. A deep analysis is required. Using Windows Explorer, check where there might be items hogging storage. You should know where you keep your files, so start by checking that part of your system that contains most of your files.

The number one culprit should be your Downloads folder because that’s where most storage is taken.

Also, sort through your digital photos. The latest cameras and viewing apps make and keep copies of pictures as a backup, thus taking up even more space. Each time you do a photo burst or take several pictures, these take up megabytes of space.

You know what, go ‘crazy’ and search for everything that looks bloated. All files and folders that are excessively large must be the first ones to be deleted.

If you’re using a Windows 7 system, go to your desktop and do the following:

  • Click Start, then click Computer, enter * in Search and press Enter. All your files will be displayed momentarily, and then you can analyze all files according to their size. 
  • Hit Left Alt to see the Windows Explorer menu near the top of the screen.
  • Click View > Details, then arrange the results using the Size column.

If you’re running Windows 10:

  • Click Start.
  • Select the File Explorer icon (the icon resembles a folder in a tray).
  • Then open This PC, and choose the drive you want to examine. Input * in the Search this PC field on the upper-right side, then hit Enter.
  • All your files will be displayed momentarily.
  • Sort out all the results according to their size: сlick View > Details and sort by Size.

Scroll through the folder listings and view the files. Review all files in detail and delete all unnecessary files. You need to be careful: make sure not to delete system files as you will do more harm than good by deleting them. Your system will be unbootable if you do so.

Deleted files will pile up in the Recycle Bin. You can do yourself a huge favor by emptying the Trash or Recycle Bin as files will be stored there for up to 30 days and continue taking up storage.

4. Offload Data

In case you didn’t know, you can clean up your system by migrating your data to an external hard drive or flash drive with huge storage. Make sure to back up all your important files in case something wrong happens to your external storage device (you can use a cloud solution for this purpose). So, move your huge files to an external hard drive and keep them there to be able to connect the hard drive and retrieve those files as and when needed. You could also offload data to trusted cloud storage, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud. This way, your data is safely stored in the cloud and your computer remains clean and keeps performing at optimum speeds.

5. Use a Utility Program to Locate Duplicate Files

If you want to do a thorough job on identifying and cleaning files that are space hoggers, you definitely need tools to assist you. Consider getting a duplicate file finding program to scan your system and locate all duplicates and delete them.

Removing duplicate files will leave you with more space and a better performing system. Getting a utility program helps sniff out any and all redundant files.

When selecting a duplicate finder utility program, get one that allows you to customize the search by including or excluding the specific file types that you need to locate. It should also have the feature to assist you to arrange the files according to their size. 

Did you know you can do yourself a favor by using FileWhopper to share files?
Using this service, you can share files between yourself and your friends. There are no subscription or membership fees needed - you just have to pay for the actual amount of data transferred. Upload the file or folder you want to send and you will receive a link to share with those you want to share the file or folder with. Once the recipient opens the link and gets what you want to share with them, the contents expire; otherwise, FileWhopper keeps them for up to 14 days before deleting them.

6. Leave Your Linux Sparkling

There are a series of steps and commands for those who run Linux. If you are one of them, you can clean your workstation or server and have it performing at its best. 

You can use the following commands to extensively clean out your Linux. Use these commands as root: 

  1. Run du – sh (do so at a subdirectory or the root volume to display the size of the underlying folders. You can carry out a further analysis from there). Carrying this out can take much of your time.
  2. Run du – a/| sort nr| head -n 10 to see the 10 largest directories (if there are any errors with the /proc folder, ignore these).
  3. Run the command find / -xdev -type f -size +100M -exec ls -la {} \; | sort -nk 100 to display the top 100 large files that are over 100 MB in size on your system. All large files will be found and arranged in order of size.

These are some of the tips you can use to keep your system clean. To decrease the amount of work needed, you can do yourself a favor by doing a weekly or biweekly system cleaning routine. The less you keep, the better. If there are now a lot of files on your system, you need more time and utility programs to get some order. Keep an orderly computer by sharing files on FileWhopper without keeping the backup copies on your PC.

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