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ARCHIVED: How can I increase my computer's disk space if my hard disk is full?

To increase your computer's disk space, you have several options:

  • Obtain a larger (or additional) storage device: Hard drives have become more affordable over time, and installing an additional hard drive is reasonably easy for anyone familiar with computer hardware. You need to know what type of hard drive controller your computer currently has, if it will work with an additional hard drive controller, and if it will support an additional hard drive. For example, not all IDE hard drives will work with additional IDE drives.

  • Back up nonessential files to a secondary storage device and delete the old copies: Large removable storage media keep getting cheaper, so it may be worthwhile to investigate purchasing removable storage (e.g., CD-R & -RW, DVD+/-R, +/-RW). USB flash drives and external hard drives are currently extremely common methods of storing data, as they are continually increasing in capacity and becoming reduced in size. USB flash drives are very portable devices for storing and transferring data. They come in a variety of sizes and prices and can store anywhere from 1-32 GB of data. While flash drives are ideal for easy access to files at all times, external hard drives are an excellent option for backing up all of one's data on a more permanent basis. These devices have significantly larger storage capacity than flash drives, some possessing 1 TB or more of storage capacity.

  • Use file compression utilities: You can use a file compression utility to compress individual files or directories that you do not access often. Common file compression programs include WinZip and WinRAR for Windows computers, and DropStuff (part of Aladdin's StuffIt Standard Edition) for Mac OS and Mac OS X computers. Unlike disk compression utilities, you must explicitly decompress each file before you can use it again.

  • Use disk compression utilities: While disk compression utilities can double your hard drive space using data compression, they can fail, causing all of your data to be irretrievably lost. Therefore, if you choose this option, remember to back up your important files to a CD or DVD, external hard drive, other removable media, or a network drive. Also, often disk compression utilities are not compatible with all applications, especially applications which create their own disk cache (e.g., Photoshop). They can also slow your computer down, especially as you are saving or opening files, because the program needs to compress and decompress files.
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Last modified on January 07, 2013.

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