Tech Tips – Spring Disk Cleaning

Tech Tips / Friday, March 23rd, 2012

It’s finally nice outside, nice enough to open the windows and motivate ourselves to do a bit of Spring cleaning. I, personally, have done a fair bit of cleaning in the past week (though I have yet to tackle that chunk of kielbasa that’s been hardening and dripping grease in the back corner of my fridge). But while we’re busy in the physical world cleaning things up, let me suggest you use the time away from your computer to clean it up a bit and make it run a little smoother.

This week, I’m going to explain how to clean out old, unneeded system files from your computers. I did this recently and it cleared up about 50 GB of hard drive space. Here’s how:

Windows Vista and Windows 7: Open Disk Cleanup by clicking the “Start” button, typing “Disk Cleanup” and then pressing enter. Choose the drive you’d like to clean up. You may need to enter your password. Select the check boxes for the files you want to delete. When you finish selecting the files you want to delete, click “OK,” and then click “Delete files” to confirm the operation. Disk Cleanup proceeds to remove all unnecessary files from your computer.

You may also choose “Clean up system files” which is where a good amount of my hard drive space was being wasted. After your computer has been scanned, click the “More Options” tab. In “System Restore and Shadow Copies,” choose “Clean up…” This prompts you to delete all but the most recent restore point on the disk (System Restore is used to restore your computer to a earlier state if it stops working. Shadow Copies are previous versions of files). You will be asked if you want to delete these files, if you do choose “Delete.”

Windows XP: Open “My Computer.” Right-click the disk in which you want to free up space (most likely the C: drive), and then click “Properties.” Click the “General” tab, and then click “Disk Cleanup.” In the new dialog, click to select the check boxes next to the files that you want to remove, and then click “OK.” Click “Yes” to go ahead with this action, and then click “OK.”

Additionally you can remove Restore Points (which is what took up a lot of my hard drive space). To do this, navigate to “Disk Cleanup” again and then the “More Options” tab, and then under “System Restore,” (System Restore is used to restore your computer to a previous state if it stops working) click “Clean up.” Click “Yes” to remove all but the most recent restore point. Click “OK,” click “Yes” to go ahead with this action, and then click “OK.”

Mac OSX: To clean up files on a Mac, you’ll need to download a free to use program called OnyX ( Just select your version of Mac to download, install it, and then run it. It may prompt you to check the S.M.A.R.T. status, I recommend this (it ensures your hard drive is healthy). Then while it’s running, navigate to the “Cleaning” page. Here you’ll have six different options of things to clean up. Navigate through them and choose the items you wish to clean from your system, and then press “Execute.” Don’t worry; this tool is intended to only remove non-essential items.

So, take a few minutes to clean up your computer. Not only will your computer run a little smoother, you also will free up some hard disk space. Sounds like win-win (and if you decide to eat that freshly uncovered kielbasa, win-win-win because that’s one less food item you need to buy).

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