Here's a story about a relatively common problem in computerland, with a happy ending no less.
My computer is more than six years old, and it has a limited amount of hard drive space by 2012 standards. I think it's 37 gigs of memory off the top of my head. That's not much, but we don't do much in terms of video, pictures, programs, etc.
So it was some discomfort a couple of years ago that I noticed the amount of available space was slowly shrinking. I believe I was down to three percent. I did the logical thing shortly after noticing the problem -- I bought an external hard drive. When I had a new program to add to the computer, it went there. And, I moved some files over as well. That created enough space for a while. I also frequently used the disk cleaner and defragmenter that's built into the computer.
But in the last couple of months, the free space on the main hard drive was almost gone again, and little was helping. When I tried to move big problems over to the external drive, I got warnings along the lines of "Are you sure you want to do this?" Well, no, if you are going to be that way, I'd better not.
I asked a friend of mine about the problem; we're about at the same level of computer proficiency. He told me, "I have the exact same problem."
So ... I did a search for techniques on what to do about it. I found something called CCleaner, which found some loose files I didn't need floating around but didn't really solve the problem. I also read that something called "TreeSize Free" was a great, free way to determine what the heck was on the drive. The program reads your hard drive and tells you exactly what's on it and how big each file is.
I scanned it, and looked around for files I could remove. Eventually, and it took a while, I found the file that attached to the program I used for making copies of compact disks. Then I noticed it was taking up 20 gigs of space.
Upon opening the file, I noticed about 15 "temporary files" that took up more than 18 gigs of space. In other words, it was sucking up half the space on the hard drive. I removed them.
And suddenly, more than half of my hard drive was empty, and the computer started to work much more efficiently.
I'd say "Yahoo," but there are copyright issues there. So "eureka" will have to do.
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