Check Hard Drive And Free Up Space

by on March 26, 2007

Q: How do I check my hard drive and free up space?

A: The process of cleaning up your hard drive along with checking your hard drive, which also involves defragmenting (reorganizing), will lead to your computer running a little faster so it should be done at least once a month.

The Cleanup

The process is simple and we start off by going to “Start” and then select “My Computer“. From here you will get a list of your hard disks and devices with removable storage (CD and DVD drives) along with some other data. We want to right click on the hard drive, usually your “C:” drive, and select “Properties”. Once we have done that we will get a new window to open, which will have multiple tabs on it.

We will start off using the “General” tab. We want to click on the “Disk Cleanup” button, which will open a new window and we will be put in the “Disk Cleanup” tab automatically. From here it is usually safe to just keep the default spots checked off and then press “OK” but if you want to clean up even more space you can look though the other options. For advanced users there is another tab called “More Options”, which allows you to remove windows components and programs that have been installed. Be careful because if you are going to remove a program you actually need then you will have to reinstall it and you might have lost some of your data.

The Checking

To check our hard drive to make sure it does not have many errors we want to scan the disk for errors. To do this we have to open the same little window we had opened previously by going to “Start” -> “My Computer” then right clicking on the hard drive you want to check and clicking “Properties”. From here we will want to select the “Tools” tab and then select “Check Now…”.

A small window will open and we will want to check off “Automatically fix file system errors” and “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors”. This process will take a little while and you will want to make sure that you have no programs running because they will cause the process to take even longer. This is going to check all the spots on your hard drive to make sure there are no problems with them. If there are any problems it will mark the areas that have problems and it will not write to those areas in the future, which will help keep your data safe.

The Organizing

To organize the data so that your computer can get at it faster we do the same steps as when we did The Checking but now we will select the second option on the “Properties” screen, which is “Defragment Now..”. Once you select that option you will have a new window open up which will allow you to either “Analyze” or “Defragment”. The “Analyze” option is what we will run first. It will only take a few moments to run and you will be shown a report that will tell you if you need to “Defragment” or not. The nice thing is that this report is easy to ready because it literally says “You do not need to defragment this volume.” or it says “You should defragment this volume.”

This report will also give you other information and I suggest you take a look at it but for those of you that are not interested you can just skip the report and do what it told you to do. If it told you to “Defragment” then that is easy you just click on the “Defragment” button. Again make sure you do not have any programs running as that will make this process take a very long time.

All Done

So now at this point we have removed any extra files on the system that we did not need freeing up extra space. As a general rule the less data you have on your hard drive the faster your computer is going to run.

We also checked the hard drive for errors, which will allow the system to run better because it will know to ignore error spots in the future.

Then we organized our files so that the computer can get at them faster, which will make the computer run more efficiently.

This should have been a painless process and it should help keep your computer running it’s best.

5 Responses to “Check Hard Drive And Free Up Space”

    Some people will notice that “My Computer” is not in the start menu but is on their desktop. So the key is to just make sure to find “My Computer”.


    So tell me…what if I have done all of the above and only have 5% DISK SPACE….and another empty hard drive…how do you transfer lower usage data or do I need to download it on CDs?


    If you have another drive in your computer or if you have an external drive connected via USB then all you would have to do is open “My Computer” and you should see the other drive listed there as another letter. You would then want to just drag the files you want to move from the main drive to the other drive.

    You should be aware that if you only have 5% disk space free you are just looking for trouble so I would suggest moving files as soon as possible.


    I would say this is best done when the drive isn’t choked yet and running out of free space, because a fragmented drive that has NO free space can be as good as a comatose machine. A few minutes every week or day will pay off immensely.