How to clean a computer hard drive?

How to clean a computer hard drive

As a computer technician, I see many people who are interested in a hard drive clean-up. If you are one of these people then this article is for you! Read on for information about how to safely and effectively remove files from your computer’s hard drive.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of data on your computer, it may be time to do some spring cleaning. When was the last time you went through all of your files and folders? A cluttered hard drive can cause problems in performance, security, and even personal privacy. In this blog post, I will show you how to clean up a cluttered hard drive with just a few clicks.

There are several reasons why you might want to consider cleaning up your hard drive:

*Your computer is running slowly

*You want to make more room on your hard drive for new files

*You are going to sell or give away your old computer and need a way to wipe private data off of it

Back up all your files

  1. Find your documents folder (C:\Users\ \Documents) or create one if it doesn’t exist.
  2. Create a copy of every file you want to back up into that folder.
  3. Store the files on an external hard drive, flash drive, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, USB memory stick, network drive, etc…
  4. Once you have moved all your important files onto something portable and secure, you can start cleaning up your computer’s hard drive. The first step is to delete any files that aren’t necessary—just move them to the trash so they don’t get deleted by accident! Be sure not to delete anything you need. It’s a good idea to examine your documents, pictures, and other folders from time to time anyway!
  5. Next, you can delete any junk files. These are things like temporary internet files, browser cache, and downloads—you know: the stuff that makes it hard for your computer to run fast and slow down your surfing without realizing it. Some programs also create junk files; if there’s anything you don’t use anymore or aren’t sure about, get rid of it. It’s better to err on the side of caution!
  6. After that, clean out all those big, useless files like movies, music albums (that came with software), Outlook backups, iTunes rip cd images, video games/game demos

Empty the Recycle Bin

For both files and folders, they can’t be recovered once you empty the recycle binAlthough they’re deleted from your hard drive, they may still exist on other computers or storage devices connected to your device. If you use Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10, click the “down” arrow next to File Explorer in the taskbar

  1. Click Computer at the top of File Explorer (looks like a file cabinet)
  2. You’ll see everything that’s plugged in there; probably your hard drive, maybe an SD card in your camera
  3. Right-click on the recycle bin (the blue rectangle with white shreds inside it), and choose “Empty Recycle Bin” (at the bottom)
  4. Make sure you’re clicking on the recycle bin, not just a bunch of folders next to it
  5. Right-click again and choose “Restart” (it’s under Settings). Windows will restart your computer immediately
  6. After restarting, go back into the Recycle Bin through File Explorer & you should see your deleted files are no longer there

Defragment your hard drive

1.    Right-click on your primary drive (C:) & choose Properties.

2.    Once in the Properties dialog, click on the Tools tab and then hit Optimize button under “Maintenance.”

3.    When Optimize window pops up, select the option called “Defragment now” and hit OK.

4.    Windows will now defragment your hard drive for you! It may take a few minutes to complete so be patient as it runs in the background.

You can check out what’s going on with your defragmentation process by going into My Computer or accessing your drives from Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer > System Logs > Defrag log file.

Remove temporary internet files and cookies from your browser cache

In your web browser of choice,

  1. Go to the top menu bar and select Tools > Internet Options.

2.    In the General Tab of Internet Properties, click on Delete Files. This will remove temporary files from your computer that have been saved through browsing.

3.    Under Browsing History, look for a list called Temporary Internet files and another labeled Cookies. Click on either one individually and press DELETE on your keyboard to remove each file or group of files from your computer.

4.    Press OK when finished deleting these temporary files so as not to lose any information you may want still in those folders.

5.    Repeat steps 1-4 as needed for other browsers installed on your computer.

Delete old email accounts that you no longer use to decrease clutter on your hard drive

1.    Click on the Start menu and select Settings.

2.    Go to Accounts and select Mail.

3.    Delete any e-mail accounts that you no longer use or want to be saved as an archive for future reference by right-clicking on the account and selecting Remove Account.

4.    Repeat steps 1-3 as needed for other email accounts installed on your computer such as Outlook, Hotmail, etc.

5.    Press OK when finished deleting these old email accounts so as not to lose any information you may want still in those folders.

Uninstall programs that you don’t need anymore (or never used)

Check for unused applications, downloads, and other junk on your computer’s desktop and in the Applications folder.

To uninstall the programs, go to the control panel, Add/remove programs.

Remove Windows upgrade files

These files can take up quite a bit of space, but you shouldn’t need them unless you reinstall your Windows operating system. If you are using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, here are the steps on how to remove old Windows upgrade files:

When you go to the control panel and look for Disk Cleanup, it may not be there. That’s ok. Just do this instead: (for Windows 7) Click on Start > Run or press WIN + R Type in cleanmgr and click OK.

Then, just tick all the Windows upgrade files in the list and select ‘Clean up system files ‘

Delete the C:\Windows.old folder from your computer

Press Win + R on your keyboard to open Run. Type in ‘C:\Windows.old’ and press enter. Delete all contents inside this Windows.old folder.

If you’re still not being able to recover space on your hard drive or you’d like to possibly increase the space of your hard drive, our computer upgrade experts can help you out!

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...