Speed Up Your Computer (part 2)

Matt Stauffer

Earlier this week we talked about how the amount of memory in your computer could have a huge impact on the speed of your computer. Today, we’re talking hard drives.

Whereas with memory we said put as much in as you can afford, the size of the hard drive is a totally different animal. It depends a lot on your usage: many people can get by with 60GB just fine, where others need hundreds of gigabytes of storage space. This depends a lot on how you’ll use your computer; if you’re just getting work done, you won’t need any more than 60GB. However, the more pictures, music, and especially videos and games you have, the more space you’ll need.

Here’s what’s most important: Make sure to always keep at least 15% of your hard drive free. Otherwise you will see confusing and inexplicable performance decreases and eventually random shutdowns and file deletions. It’s not a pleasant experience.

How do you figure out how much hard drive space you have left on your computer? Unfortunately, I no longer have access to a Windows computer, so hopefully one of our gracious commenters will leave you instructions. For a Mac, click the icon for your hard drive on your desktop and press Command-i. In the popup you’ll see “Capacity” and “Available”, your two most important numbers. “Available” divided by “Capacity” is your available percentage, or the number you want to keep above 15%.

If your number is below 15, or if you just want to get a better sense for what’s taking up all of the space on your computer, you’ll want to get a tool to help you visualize that. Thankfully, there are excellent free tools for that: WinDirStat for Windows  and Disk Inventory X for Mac (or DaisyDisk if you have the money for it.) These tools will visualize the files on your hard drive and help you find the storage hogs that you can delete to free up space.

Questions? Ask in the comments.

By Matt Stauffer | Posted: Sep 08, 2011
Category: Miscellaneous | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. September 14, 2011, 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Bill Houston emailed this tip in:
    “I suspect the method will differ depending on the system being used but I do not know that.

    On a Vista system
    Click on computer and drift the curser over the drive you are interested in. A note will appear telling you the drive size and the amount free.

    If you want a graphic representation then while hovering over the drive, right click and then choose properties in the new menu. The new window will give you an annotated pie chart of the drive.


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