How to clean up and regain some hard disk space

Recently I realized that my three (3) year old machine is running slowly. Every time I launch an application, it would take at least a minute for it to load up.

Checking through the available space on my hard disk, I see that only 2.5 GB out of 74.4 GB space is available. This must be the reason why my machine is running slowly. Ever since I started using the machine, it has not been cleaned up in anyway. Short to say, everything goes in, nothing comes out!

At the same time, I also needed some space to install a database to work on some programming assignment. Since the size of the database is at least 10 GB, I need to clean up and regain enough hard disk space to be able to start work. Otherwise, I’m stuck as I can’t go screaming to my boss.. I need a new server with big hard disk capacity! Times are bad and I’m sure my boss won’t spend money on a new server just like that.

With this challenge, the only thing I could do is to delete unwanted files and backup the necessary ones to an external HDD. This task itself is a challenge because I do not know where the big files are. Imagine 3 years of data sitting deep inside folders. How would I know which folder holds to the big files?

Then I remember a tool by the name of SC-DiskInfo introduced by a SQL Server instructor many years ago. The good thing about this tool, it displays your machine’s disk space usage and shows which folders take up the most space. So yes, you will be able to easily spot the folder which takes up the most space.

Running the tool, I can easily drill down deeply into folders which were taking up most of the space. From the screenshot above, obviously most of the big files are residing in the Desktop folder. Drilling in, I found some sub folders storing some music and video files which I have forgotten that the files even exist. All these while, those big files were sitting in there clogging up and slowing the machine down without me realizing it. Shucks, I should have ran this tool much earlier.

So from just 2.45 GB, I managed to regain some hdd space to about 21.5 GB.

Next, I ran the Windows XP Disk Cleanup utility. From there, I also managed to get another 17 GB! See the screenshot below:

You will be surprise to see how hugh the temporary files are on your machine. Just a note that the clean up process can take quite a while. Mine took at least 3 hours to run.

Anyway, I’m happy now that my machine performs better and faster. For those of you needing to clean up and regain some hard disk space, give SC-DiskInfo and Windows XP Disk Cleanup a try now and do let me know how much space you’ve regained. 🙂

* Updated 5 Feb 2009. Free Disk Usage Analyzer is another tool that you to organize your files and manage disk space by locating the largest files on your disk.

About the author

Bob Lee

Hi! My name is Bob Lee and I’m a web developer / technical writer who specializes in developing and reviewing web applications. As an entrepreneur, blogger, developer, and tech enthusiast, I have been in this field for more than 10 years, and have been loving every minute of it.


  • I dont know how to clean my laptop and I keep getting mgs from my computer that says that I am running very low on space and I really need to find out how to get more space because I how homework from school and I cant do most of my work because i dont have much space hopeful I will find how THANK YOU and remember my name is TIFFANY PEREZ lol lol lol GOOOOOOOOOD BYYYYYYYYYYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ashley,

    Sometimes it could be the work of malwares and viruses causing the low disk space.

    Try to get into safe mode with networking and see if you could download the following software if you don’t already have it:
    1. Avast Antivirus
    2. Malwarebytes
    3. CCleaner

    Once confirmed that you don’t have any viruses in your machine, run SC-DiskInfo to find out which file / folder is taking up the most space.

    Hope it helps!

  • Hey, i downloaded this hoping to get more memory, alas i have no idea how to use it. an help would be great i beleive im working with 1 KB on my computer. so slow. please help me!

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