Friday, 19 August 2011

Freeing up hard disk space and Organizing it.

This blog is a part of a blog on Optimizing CPU Performance, found here.

Defragment: As we know, the hard disk is an essential part of the computer, but what many don't realize that it is very slow when compared to the speeds of the processor and the memory. Hence, a very simple yet effective way to speed up your PC is to keep the disk well organized. Usually, over time, due to lack of continuous free clusters; the OS saves files in fragmented pieces. As the file gets updated, the OS saves it on the next free cluster available, this might result in it to be very far from the original saved position of the file. This makes it time consuming when the files are to be read later on.

This is where the Windows Disk Defragmenter comes in. Without going much into the details of its working, it's best to say that it moves the files around and stores them sequentially, keeping all the free space apart in one big chunk. It can take a long time to finish, so it's advised to let it run over-night. Luckily, Windows 7 and Windows Vista can be configured to defragment weekly/monthly .

Linux users need not worry. Linux uses Ext4 file system which is far less prone to fragmentation than the Windows (NTFS) file system. Defragmenting Linux systems will lead to a negligible performance boost.

Check Disk: Often known as ‘chkdsk’, is a windows command which helps in checking for any errors and bad sectors in the drive and then tries to repair them. It can also act as an early warning system if it shows too many errors which can’t be repaired, implying that health of the drive is attenuating. Here’s how it can be run.

A counter for this is the fsck command in Linux.

Temporary Internet Files: Almost all of the internet browsers today keep a copy of every webpage you visit, on the hard drive. These saved files help in loading a webpage faster when it is opened in future. The files accumulate over time and can end up occupying a lot of space. Deleting them, clearing the cache and cookies can free up the space. The procedure can be found for Internet Explorer and Chrome users.

If you aren't very keen on knowing what you did yesterday, set the history in internet options for 0 days to prevent the browser from storing information about what you did on the internet today. Yea, a bit confusing. Read it twice. :)

Disk Cleanup: It is another pre-installed utility in Microsoft Windows which searches for unused and unneeded files (for ex; files in the Recycle Bin) and then gives an option to select which ones you would like to remove. From personal experience, I find it really useful as it can free up quite a lot of space, especially if used for the first time or after a very long period. (Once, it cleared ~ 1.2 GB!). Go on, try it.

You can use autoclean/clean/autoremove commands in Linux to serve the same purpose.

Remove previous restore points: Backing-up your data can be a valuable use of your time, but it also has a flip-side. Once you create a new back-up (or the system creates one on its own), the previous restore points might (can be automated in Windows 7) or might not be deleted. These earlier backups and restore points utilize a LOT of space. Hence, it makes sense to delete older restore points.

Backing up using the terminal (Linux) can be a tricky task, so it’s easier to use software’s which do it. I would recommend FlyBack.

Uninstall programs: Have you ever opened the Add/Remove window and found many programs which you don't remember installing? Maybe they came installed on your new computer or some you don't use anymore. Obviously, these programs use up space and are worth uninstalling.

Two things to be kept in mind; Firstly, 'deleting' the icon of a program doesn't remove it from your computer; you have to still uninstall it. Secondly, don't uninstall blindly, if you're not sure of what it does, Google it before uninstalling.

Linux users can simply use the Software Centre for managing their programs on the disk.

Recycle Bin Reduction: The recycle bin is allotted some percentage of space in each drive.
The percentage allotted would generally be 10%. You can allot the recycle bin different percentages for each drive also, but keeping it around 3-4% in general, should be optimum. For doing so :

Right click on Recycle Bin > Properties > Custom Size >3-4% of your hard disk size.


  1. In reference to : "These earlier backups and restore points utilize a LOT of space. Hence, it makes sense to delete older restore points."
    I checked the hyperlink pointing to, and tried the instructions given there on my computer. I am unable to configure the disks. It says "Configuration is disabled by Group Policy". Anything that can be done ?

  2. The error is most probably caused due to a administration rights conflict. Make sure that you're logged in as an admin and then try again.

    If this doesn't solve your issue, try this link:

    If the problem is still unresolved, contact us again.

  3. Tried the instructions on the link. Works well now.