Saturday, May 13, 2017

Spring Cleaning: Freeing Up Space on Your C Drive

I never really worried about free space on my C drive in Windows, but after switching to an SSD, even one with 512 gb advertised size, I got a little worried as space filled up and free space dwindled to less than 20 gb.

So with some research and a little past knowledge, I started researching (thanks Google) and employing some utilities to assist me. Oh, and be sure to make a full, image, backup of your C drive before starting on any of these techniques so you can restore it if something goes wrong. I use Macrium Reflect, but there are other programs out there that will do the same.

First of all, I had partitioned my second mechanical hard drive into two partitions, allowing me to have a large data partition and a 160 gb partition I used for temporary files. I also changed the location of my virtual memory, or swap file, to that partition as well. This had already freed up a lot of space that had been used on my C drive where these files usually reside. Links to assist you with these moves and changes are:

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-files/change-location-of-temp-files-folder-to-another/19f13330-dde1-404c-aa27-a76c0b450818

https://superuser.com/questions/237813/how-can-i-move-the-page-file-to-another-physical-disk-location

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2079571/move-your-libraries-to-a-second-drive-or-partition.html

Next, I checked my Public folders. A lot of people don't realize that some data gets placed in those folders, which by default are on the C drive, even if you move your own libraries/folders to another drive or partition. Typically, I'd use the Public My Pictures for screen captures and pictures I'd download from the Internet to use with social media postings. I had quite a few of them, so I reviewed what I had and deleted most of them, moving those I wanted to keep to my own My Pictures folder, now on my data drive.

I emptied my Recycle Bin and ran Ccleaner, a utility to get rid of temporary files and delete temporary Internet files created from my browsers. There are ways to move the cache files from your browsers to another partition or drive, but that's another article when I get to it. Suffice to say, the default location is on the C drive, so that did free up some space too.

A great utility to assist in identifying space used by files on any drive is WinDirStat (https://windirstat.net). You get a graphical display of the usage of any drive, and can drill down by folder to see where the space hogs are located. In my case, the largest usage of my C drive was with Windows folder sub-folders and files. You should not delete these folders/files directly, but instead use utilities that make the operations much safer. Many of these files are archived Windows updates no longer needed if you don't plan on attempting to roll back an update. Some are log files. Some are patch files.

This article discusses freeing up space used by Windows update files in the \Windows\WinSxS folder: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/askpfeplat/2013/10/08/breaking-news-reduce-the-size-of-the-winsxs-directory-and-free-up-disk-space-with-a-new-update-for-windows-7-sp1-clients/ . The utility recommended, and that I used is the included Disk Cleanup utility in Windows. It is recommended to run it as Administrator so that the update files no longer needed are removed. After you run the utility, you have to reboot so that the removal process completes like a normal Windows update as you shut down and restart. It took close to 30 minutes to complete the removal this way, so have patience and go watch a movie or something until it completes.

Another folder containing a lot of files is the Installer sub-folder of Windows. These files are important, as during updating, patching or uninstalling software, if you blatantly delete all the files in this folder, you will find yourself needing to rebuild Windows. However, over time these files become outdated and orphaned. A utility, PatchCleaner, will scan the Installer folder and recommend the deletion of those orphaned files (or moving them to a safe backup location on another drive or partition, which I did.) Get your copy at: http://download.cnet.com/PatchCleaner/3000-18512_4-76399133.html

End result of this process was the freeing up of 140 gb of space on my C drive SSD! More room to grow now, I suppose, but a great Spring Cleaning project.



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