With practically everything going digital, it’s easy to run out of hard-drive space. You can keep track of how full your drive is with your computer’s default file manager: In Windows, go to Start, then My Computer; in OS X, look at the bottom of any Finder window. Most of us notice a problem only after the drive is already full, though.

When that happens, the first thing to do is empty your Trash or Recycle Bin and see how much space you’ve freed up. Still not enough? Clear out the spots where unnecessary files collect, like your Downloads folder. Next, download the free utility WinDirStat (Windows; or GrandPerspective (Mac;, both of which display your files as colored rectangles of different sizes. Click on the bigger files, and trash them if you don’t need them.

In the future, keep an eye on your drive space and clean out unnecessary files as you go. It’s also good to store your music, movies and other files you need the most on a separate drive from your operating system. That makes it easy to move to a new computer or upgrade your OS and take your important data with you.

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