Ways To Free Up Valuable (Computer) Storage Space

Ways To Free Up Valuable (Computer) Storage Space

Eric Chen
Jan 19, 2012

I love my Macbook Air. I love how thin and portable it is, I love the solid construction and the clean looks. I especially love how the flash storage makes it feel like a computer that's twice as fast. But what I don't love is the limited storage. Compared to a laptop with a hard drive, my internal storage space is about a sixth less. This means that I have to carefully manage my storage and constantly be on the look out to save space. Here are some tips and tricks I've learned to ensure that I optimize how I use my storage.

Always be curating new files. Whether we're managing photos, (legally) downloading songs or starting a movie project, it's easy to get lost in the plethora of files being created on our computer everyday. These files can build up over time, even long after we no longer need them. The trick to managing storage is being organized, know where files go after they're downloaded or created. Have a good folder system going so new files are always being filed away. When it comes time to delete or back up data for more storage, we could simply move the entire folder instead of going through individual files.

Limit browser storage. Our browser is always backing up elements of the sites that we visit to enhance the web experience, the more it backs up the faster we browse the web. With the media heavy websites today, these "temporary" files can build up and take a good chuck of memory in our computer. We keep these files in check by clearing these files regularly. We also set a maximum limit for the browser to store these files. Usually these settings can be found under the Options or Preferences menu of the browser.

Back up, back up, back up. Getting an external hard drive is the basics of freeing up space on a computer, but it's important to actually back up regularly. Having a good file structure could make this process a lot easier. Set up an automated solution like Time Machine or other software can make this process quick and painless. This also allows us to get rid of those important files on our local drive that we don't always need to have with us. We regularly back up photos, music and movies that we've worked on and purge them from our local drive.

Turn off/restart the computer. Whether it's a Mac or a PC, the OS usually backs up the documents and files is being worked on in case of any mishaps. Similar to browsing data, this can build up quickly on a computer. We found that by restarting our Mac once in a while, we recover about 1-2GB of storage space. Turning off the computer and letting it rest also has the advantage of saving energy by limiting electricity draw from the standby mode and improving the computer's performance by clearing its RAM.

The Cloud is our friend. With so many cloud services for music and movies available, there isn't much reason for us to keep physical media on our computer anymore. For the music lovers amongst us, services such as Spotify, Rdio or many others give you access to most of the music ever created in the world for a small fee or even free. For the TV and movie buffs, check out the perenial favorites such as Netflix and Hulu, the major streaming services are even creating their own original content. And with the growth and development of web tools such as Google's services to Microsoft Office's effort to "cloudify" themselves, soon we may not even need all those pesky programs taking up valuable storage. For the anti-Google fans, check out Lifehacker's list of Google alternatives.

What are your tips and tricks for keeping your files from taking over your storage? Share with us in the comments below!

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