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Recovering Disk Space in Windows

28 August 2006

Somehow, no matter how big a hard drive you buy, you always end up short on disk space. Where does it go? Below are some tips for recovering disk space on Windows aimed at the business user. Most tips work on Windows 2000 but some are windows XP only.

Use a partition altering tool like Partition Magic to move space from other partitions to your data partition. (e.g. From a System partition or another OS installed on the same disk)
Delete old emails that are no longer required.
Remove attachments from emails that you no longer need or where the files are stored elsewhere on your PC. If you use Outlook, you can do this with the "Attachments Processor" tool from
o Attachments Processor installs into Outlook's Tools menu.
o First configure it to find the attachments you wish to process. e.g. Based on folder and attachment size
o You can enable / disable the deletion of attachments. This lets you do a test run without actually deleting any attachments.
o You can also set options to archive the attachments to a folder so you can review before deleting.
o You then need to compress the pst file to recover the space. (Right click the mailbox icon in Outlook, select properties, Advanced, Compact Now.) This can take some time.
Empty the Recycle bin
(Windows XP) Reduce disk space used by System Restore (My Computer->Properties, system restore tab) Select a drice, click settings and reduce the amount of disk space allocated. Repeat for each drive.
(Windows XP) Turn on file system compression for infrequently used data files. Select the folder in Windows Explorer, right click and properties, Advanced, Compress Contents to save space.
Reduce the size of paging files (especially if you have a lot of RAM, e.g. 1GB+). Right click My Computer, properties, Advanced tab, Performance Settings, Advanced tab, Change Virtual memory, set to No Paging file on all partitions (or possible leave 1 paging file of 128 - 256 MB). Requires a reboot to take effect.
Delete old temp files.
o Go to \\Local Settings\Temp
o Sort by date and delete files older than a week.
Hunt down folders taking up a lot of space and determine if you can delete old or duplicate docs. e.g. draft versions of deliverables.
o Install the folder size tool -
o Identify folders using a lot of space and see if there are documents that are no longer required
Uninstall unused applications. Check the Program files directory to ensure there's no unnecessary files left behind from removed applications
Delete old Internet Explorer cookies and cached files from \\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files.
Clear Outlook saved attachments. You need to type the path into Windows explorer. The olk8 directory is hidden and wont show up in Explorer
o For Outlook 2003 users
o Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK8
After all this, run the disk defragmenter tool to improve performance (Start menu, Accessories->System tools)
Remove archived Windows uninstall files. See this site and to remove Windows XP SP1 uninstall files


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