Here's How to Quickly Regain 10-20 GB of Free Space

Ever since we got a MacBook Pro, we've been a bit lax with the maintenance of our desktop PC. The computer is old and we know that we won't keep it for much longer, but it still continues to function as our main home-based PC, so it makes sense to ensure that it's functioning properly.
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We use CleanMyMac from MacPaw on our OS X computer at least once a day to clear up junk files. While the software is very easy to use, we were wondering when MacPaw would make a PC version. They have released one, but it seems a bit wasteful to purchase another piece of software when you can do pretty much do the same without spending a penny. Here's how you can do it. We were able to clear out 15GB on our 200GB (8% since only 186GB available for storage on a 200GB drive) hard drive this weekend using these utilities. These operations can take a long time to run, so you're better off running them before you go to bed. It's not unusual for them to run for more than an hour, especially if your hard drive is fragmented. Thanks to our scheduler, we keep all of our drives defragmented automatically, so that wasn't a problem. We also run weekly virus scans on Friday nights.

1. Check Disk: This is a basic System Tool from Microsoft which is included in all versions of Windows. Right-click on the drive you want to check, click Properties and access the Tools submenu. Click 'Check now'. If your disk is in use, you'll have to schedule a boot time scan the next time you restart.

2. Defrag: Fragmented drives are slower to respond and can use up more space, which is why it's a good idea to keep your hard drives defragmented. You can access this by navigating to Accessories-> System Tools-> Disk Defragmenter or right-click on the drive you want to defrag, and access the Tools submenu. Then click 'Defragment now'. The drive will have to be analyzed first and then defragmented. If your drive is fragmented, it may take a while for this process to finalize but once it's done, your hard drive will run faster and you'll have recuperated a few GB.

3. Glary Utilities There are a few different versions of this software, but the basic one is freeware, so you can use it without any charge. We ran through the different scans a few times to clear up some space.

4. CCleaner: This software will optimize and clean your PC. There are a few different scans you can run through, including a registry scan, which will take care of some malware entries in your Windows registry.

5. nCleaner: This app does similar things as CCleaner, but we like running both of them to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.

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6. CleanMyPC: If you have grown to love MacPaw's CleanMyMac, then you can do the same with your PC thanks to this app. However, we found the trial version of the software somewhat annoying, as it would only let us clean 500MB and showed us, almost tauntingly, how much more it could clean if we'd only purchase a license. It's safe to say that if you've gone through the five other steps in this process, you'll have cleaned your PC thoroughly, and you won't have to shell out $29.95 for CleanMyPC. Still, it's a good option if you want a one-stop solution.

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(Images: Flickr member Aranarth licensed for use under Creative Commons and Flickr member Langleyo licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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