and how to wipe you drive completely (see at the end)
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This page is not for the novice or the faint hearted. Suggestions here can be very damaging to the health of your PC and the usual precautions should be taken to note what you have done, make backups and Restore points and don't blame the author !
Wot, no space left ?
If you are getting short of hard disk space, and have broadband, you may wish to consider using free on line storage. There are a number of advantages, not least that it would still be there even if your computer crashed completely ! See HERE for a list of such facilities.
Bear in mind that the things that take most space are VIDEOS, MUSIC, KIDS GAMES and GRAPHICS (photographs) These days with cameras taking snaps that are 2 -4 megabytes a piece, even your Pictures folder can rapidly become over-inflated.
If you require a free backup program DriveImage XML is available to download from Computer Active HERE It is only 1.6Mb. It can be set to backup sections of your computer at regular intervals. It is usually set to back them up to a DVD, CD or an external hard drive. Another good backup program is called Cobian
I am getting increasing numbers of enquiries about PC's going slower. Generally it is NOT because of all the files and programs you have on the hard disk (unless it is nearly full) For information about Speeding You PC see Here
These days hard disks can be enormous. So, what if certain applications use a percentage of your disk space ? In fact there are several Windows components that, by default, create needlessly huge temp file areas: e.g. System Restore, Recycle Bin, and Internet Explorer.
System Restore can be an incredible space hog. That might be OK if System Restore were a truly complete and foolproof form of backup, but it's not. At best, System Restore may get the core operating system running again after a bad crash, but it doesn't return all files to the pre-trouble state, and it can't remove all traces of a program that went bad. Because it's such a limited recovery tool, I don't feel it's worthwhile to devote vast amounts of disk space to it. Here's how it can be tamed: In XP right-click on My Computer, select Properties, and select the System Restore tab. Then select your main drive (usually C:), click Settings, and move the slider to reserve a reasonable amount of disk space. In Vista or Windows 7 this is a much more complex procedure
Recycle Bin and Internet Explorer are also voracious: Each reserves 10% of your hard drive for its own use. That's a fifth of your entire hard drive just for these two items! On today's large drives, the amount of space wasted is absurd. Worse, over time those huge reserved areas can accumulate an incredible number of junk files, many of which Windows will try to track either at startup or as the OS runs. You can gain space and maybe also speed up your system by taming these disk-hungry programs: Right click on the Recycle Bin, select Properties, and on the Global tab, decide how much space you want the Recycle Bin to consume, either for all drives in your system, or on a per-drive basis. I adjust the slider way to the left. On a large drive, it still reserves a few hundred megabytes of space for recoverable trash, which should be plenty.
Similarly, open Internet Explorer, and select Tools, Internet Options. Under Temporary Internet Files, click the Settings button and select a reasonable size for this 'cache' area. Generally speaking, if you have a fast connection, 5 MB to 10 MB is adequate; 25 MB or so is usually enough with a slower, dial-up connection. In fact I set my machine to clear Temporary Internet Files each time I exit the browser. (See Internet Explorer Tools, Advanced, Security)
Doing the above can remove as much as 3 GB of junk files from your system a worthy result in itself but this may not result in any major speed gains.
From the correspondence I receive I know that some people are anxious to keep their PC nice and clean. They may want to create some space or are interested to see what rubbish has accumulated on it - usually as a result of program installations. It isn't just about being tidy, because unless a machine has quite a lot of spare space it cannot function properly. This is because it often needs temporary hard disk space for one reason or another. So, if you are down to less than 100Mb space you should start to be concerned. One of the main culprits is the Windows installation itself. Recently I deleted 150mb of files, all of which had arrived without my say-so.
Backup. Before you start taking things off you should be sure that you would know how to get back to where you were if things go wrong. I have added some notes about backup at the end of this page.
If all else fails to make room on your hard disk see http://www.askbobrankin.com/add_a_second_hard_drive.html and http://askbobrankin.com/make_windows_xp_run_faster.html
At one stage I used a program called Fix-it from www.vcom.com. It has a simple "One stop" facility which does a fairly thorough clean-up job. But, more recently, I discovered a program, System Mechanic from www.iolo.com, which does an even deeper clean. It starts with the usual frightening analysis of your hard drive. This gives you several 'warnings' about the number of irrelevant things in your register, broken links, security flaws, unnecessary programs in Startup, fragmentation and wasted space. These warnings are standard practice for all such programs. Useful, but they must also help their sales no end ! But, despite my machine apparently suffering from hundreds of problems, it was working perfectly well. I ignored the usual adage " if it ain't broke......." and bought the program (off Ebay) and paid a fraction of the $39 advertised price. It really does have an infinite number of tools to check out your machine and I do recommend it. Alternatively one can download Ccleaner from www.filehippo.com. It is free but you can donate something. It is regularly updated and is very straightforward to use and relatively safe.
Uninstallers are very powerful tools which can tell you what files are duplicated, what files are likely to be redundant, which files have rarely been used and which files you should not delete on pain of death etc. Ashampoo has a version of an uninstaller which also has a simple Font checker and remover and is amazing at the number of temporary files that it finds (Megabytes)
CLEANING UP THE HARD DISK
To start with you should check how much hard disk space you are using and how much is still free. This is done be clicking My Computer, right clicking your drive (C:) and clicking Properties in the Menu that appears. If there appears to be just a small empty segment left you really need to do something about it. You will notice that there is a box which says Disk Cleanup. Click on this. It shows a list of non essential files such as Temporary files and allows you to clear them. It will also empty your Recycle bin.
Temporary Internet Files are designed to make browsing for repeated
websites quicker. They are unnecessary and, if you browse the net a
lot, can accumulate very rapidly. You can also clear them by right clicking
the Internet Explorer icon on the desktop, clicking Properties and clicking
Delete Files on the screen that is displayed. You can also delete
Cookies but these are small files that keep a (confidential) record
of things like passwords. However, Cookies are also where most Adware and
Spyware files are kept, so you might like to clear these too.
Even after deleting Temporary Internet Files by the normal method it tends to leave some files. A more thorough way is by using the free program Ccleaner. It is even possible to clear Temporary Internet Files each time you close Internet Explorer. (See Internet Explorer, Tools, Advanced, Security)
Recently I checked out a small (30 gb) machine that reported it was full. I did a search for files which were over 3000 kb (3 megabytes). There were dozens, most of which were videos made with a webcam on the machine. A video of this kind can easily run to 50 megabytes or more. I even found one that was 3 Gb !After consulting with the owner they agreed that they were mostly rubbish being created by their young children messing about and pulling faces ! Deleting them released a third of their hard disk. If you do wish to keep videos or music on a PC a 30gb hard disk is just not suitable. You could fit another hard disk inside or attach another via a USB cable for between £30 and £60. Then transfer all videos, music and large photos to that, recovering the space on the principal hard disk.
Modern digital cameras are sold on the basis of how many megapixels they can use. Although you can reduce this most people don't and the resultant 2 to 4 Mb photos soon fill Gigabytes of space. There are simple ways to reduce these, especially if they are unimportant pictures. See my page of Picasa and look for Export in the facilities it provides. Picasa also has a powerful ( and trustworthy) duplicate finder.
Another possibility is to look at Add and Remove programs and get rid
of things which you are CERTAIN you don't need. Also you may find that
some updates are absolutely massive. For instance I just looked at my Java
updates in Add/remove. Essential of course as some are about security
weaknesses. But 300 Mb !!!! in two updates. So I looked to the
net for advice and this is what was said at Yahoo Answers.
(Your machine wont come to harm without Java but many fancy frills
have Java installed)
Best Answer (for vast Java Update files in Add/Remove Programs) - Chosen by Voters
It said you should uninstall them all then reinstall the most recent version of Java. Uninstalling older versions only might corrupt the current version. Problems can occur if you are running more than one version of Java as they can cause conflicts with each other. Furthermore, Java has a nasty habit of not removing older versions when updating to the newest so you have to uninstall old versions manually. Assuming that you are in the Administrator account, go to Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and uninstall everything that says J2SE, Java and Java Runtime. Reboot (some computers require a reboot to complete the uninstall process). Then go to the site below and download the most recent version of Java. http://www.java.com/en/download/chrome.jsp?locale=en
How is your FAT ? FAT refers to the File Allocation Table, which is the index held on every disk so that it can find the files you want. You can tell which yours is based on when you are looking at how much space you have - see above. In older machines it may just says FAT (rather than FAT32). Changing it to FAT 32 will give you a lot more space and make you hard disk accesses faster. I once converted a tiny 2Gb hard disk to Fat32. Amazingly it gave me an extra 600Mb of space, resulting in a full Win 98 system with internet access and numerous extra programs taking up just over a quarter of the disk. You can get more detail about this by going to Windows Help and typing in FAT. It takes very little time to convert the system but quite a long time to defrag the hard disk to recover the space. But it is well worth the effort if it is available to you. An even more advanced File System, called NTFS is available to people with modern machines. So, if you have an XP machine or later it is worth looking into this.
Having considered all these ideas you may wish to search for other less important files.
The following files are NOT essential to the running of Windows but might be important to you for other reasons. After all, the Help files can be very useful and you will probably prefer to keep them. In the following list the star (*) represents the file name. The extension e.g. 'tmp' indicates the file type :
*.hlp (help) *.zip & *.cab (compressed)*.swf *.wmv *.avi *.mov *. mpg (video) *.wma *.wav *.mid *.mp3 *.rmi (sounds) *.jpg *.gif *.bmp *.pcx (graphics) *.txt (text files) n.b.If you were not given a Windows disk with your machine the backup for Windows may be in the form of Cab files, traditionally kept in a Windows/ Options folder, so you will wish to keep these.
*.tmp (temporary) *.old *.bak (backups
of other files) *.fot *.fon *.grp (old files left over
from earlier Windows) *.chk (old Scandisk backups) and files
starting in "~"(often Word documents) . All of this last
group can be deleted without doubt.
Do be careful when deleting files. Be sure to put them in the Recycle Bin for a while so you can restore them if necessary. If, next time you switch on your machine, it says it can't find something, make a note of it and restore it immediately.
Finding the files. If you go to Start, Find/Search, Files and Folders and type in - say - *.tmp (that is Star, dot, TMP)- providing you have set 'Look in C:' you will be able to see a list of which *.tmp files are there and where they are. If you right click on them and click Delete they will go to the Recycle Bin. It is a good idea to clear the Bin before you start, so all the new deletions are obvious. Another way to use Find to check which enormous files you have is to go to Find, Advanced. Click on At least, then enter a figure such as 2000. This will show you all files greater than 2 megabytes. All your important programs will be in there, so be careful not to go mad. Most people will find reference to AOL's installation and Backup programs. Altogether AOL has arranged with Bill Gates to put around 30Mb on your computer just in case you might want to join AOL ! It is a good idea to go back and search for AOL. If you don't use AOL you can delete all references to this and you can still delete 30Mb even if you do use AOL. After all you could always reinstall AOL from that disk you use as a beer mat! AT & T and Compuserve also used to manage to get in there but to a lesser extent. These files are all grouped in one folder which can be deleted using Window Explorer. I have also just deleted 76 *.wav files from my fax software because I do not use them - they were American answerphone messages. In the folder relating to the fax software I clicked on View, Details then clicked the top of the File type column (in Explorer), got all the Wav files together, selected the lot and sent them to the Bin. They amounted to 2Mb. Some machines have a Windows Plus folder. They are ScreenSaver themes and funny sounds. Keep them if you want 30 different Baseball sounds and as many sounds of the jungle but who...............
Using an Uninstaller There are a number of proprietary Undelete programs such as Uninstaller, First-Aid,Windelete, Ashampoo, Cleansweep and V-Com's excellent Fix-it, which is part of their System Suite. Recently, I used Cleansweep on a new full installation on a PC. Cleansweep tells you which files are duplicated. There were hundreds ! Most of them related to sound software. I was nervous of deleting them but there were no problems. If there were, I could get them back from the Recycle bin. So, after a deletion session, restart your computer and watch for the names of any files it reports as missing and , if there are any, restore them immediately. There are also trouble-shooting programs like Check-it and V-com's Fixit. Using Fix-it on an old machine I found 1000 'orphan' references in the machine's Register. It started faster after I removed them. Microsoft also had an old one called Regclean and there is one called RegcleanXP which does a similar job
If there are programs which you are sure that you are not going to use you can either compress them using Winzip or delete them by going to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add and Remove Programs. This will ensure that (most of) the extra bits that are scattered around various directories are deleted also, although Add and Remove is by no means perfect and it can leave whole folders and Shortcuts hanging around.. Alternatively you may see an Uninstall program associated with the program. With regard to older programs, these do not appear in the Add and Remove List. In this case only if their installation has been tracked by programs such as Cleansweep or Windelete can you be sure that the whole program will be deleted. If you just delete the folder in which a program has its main files you are almost certain to leave a residue of DLL files in the Windows or Windows/System folder and you will not know which are important at a later date. These are called 'Orphan Files' and may be located by the Uninstaller.
Did you know that Windows loads every font you have in the Fonts folder when it starts up? The more you have, the longer it takes (and the more memory is tied up). So take a look in your Fonts folder and keep only those you really like and use. However, be careful not to remove fonts that have a red letter icon as these are System fonts.
Windows comes with a load of fonts and most of us use Times New Roman in Bold and Italic and maybe Arial, too. Some programs add even more fonts to this list. If you are into desktop publishing you might need a few special ones. Just how much space do these fonts take on your hard disk? I just did a search on my PC, using the letters TTF. These are just the Trutype fonts and there are more besides. The total amounted to 130Mb ! You would be amazed at the variation in file sizes, ranging from 32k to 10 Megabytes ! See if you have a font called Simsun.ttf, right click it and click properties. Also look for Pmingliu.ttf and Msmincho.ttf. These three amount to nearly 30Mb! I used a program called Fontfinder from www.gosunshine.com and began to delete the ones I didn't like or never used. With no difficulty at all I took off a further 20Mb and could have taken off many more. Be careful, though; some of the fonts are used by your email or the system itself and, if you remove them, you may find things looking a little strange as your PC finds an alternative. So, if you are nervous about this, create a folder called Oldfonts and move them to that for a while. Fontfinder only allows you to remove TTF fonts, so some of the basic ones (such as Courier) are left untouched.
My Documents. One of the most difficult areas to tackle is your accumulation of word processed documents. This folder can also get full of downloaded pictures. One technique I use is to go for the really BIG files, which are usually those containing graphics. Using Windows Explorer I click on My Documents. I then click on View, Details. This shows the size of the files in kilobytes. You can click at the top of the Size column to put them in Size Order. Some of mine were over 4 megabytes in size ! I look at them (click on them) before deciding which have to go. It is even possible to open a range of wordprocessed files, check them over, then close them, noting which are to be scrapped. Most word processors allow you to right click a file and click delete. Incidentally the contents of the My Documents folder (and sub folders) are never lost when you do an XP Restore, so you need not worry that you would lost recent documents of photographs.
The Recycle Bin. You can set the percentage of the hard disk set aside for the Recycle Bin (right click it and click Properties). Although this means that emptying the bin may not give you as much space as you expected the bin should be cleared periodically. It can get to be very unwieldy. If you wish to put the files in the bin in size order you can use View, Arrange icons, By size (smallest at the top). Or you can select a group by file type in this way or even Date of Deletion, if you only want to delete ones you have sent to the Bin some time ago. You can Delete or Restore individual items (or a group) from the Bin by right clicking them. You can use the technique of clicking the first, holding down the Shift key and clicking the last, if you wish to delete a whole list. Once deleted from the Bin the only way to get them back is by using special undeletion software. And this must be done urgently, before the space they use is overwritten.
N. B :
Do not remove *.vxd, *.inf, *.sys, *.ini, *.dll , *.com, *.dat or *.exe files unless you know what you are doing
Other files to consider deleting: *.scr (screensavers), *.cur(cursors).. Whilst some help files may be important to you. I found 242 of them, amounting to 30Mb! Most of them are never used. Some are in Korean and Chinese !
*.zip files. Once they are unzipped, they do not need to stay on the hard drive. Use "Find" to find them all. But don't delete the ones you have made to keep your compressed files
In Win 95 (and earlier) when Scandisk found errors it created *.chk files in the root directory. People who switched off frequently without exiting Windows correctly might find megabytes of these. They were never any use and can be deleted.
And of course, when everything is working alright don't forget to scandisk and defrag as a final cleanup. Defrag may tell you that it is not necessary but do it anyway. Leave yourself plenty of time for this job. Close down your screensaver and all programs (except Windows and Explorer) with Ctl+Alt+Del before you start or start the machine in Safe Mode to do this. Defrag will work much faster. If you find that Defrag never gets past 10% it means that something is happening in the background. You can try a program such as Powerdefrag to get over this. But it can also mean that the hard disk is in a mess, so you should do a thorough Scandisk first. In XP (and Win 95) this is called Chkdsk.
Backing up the hard disk See next page
To Manually Install the Backup Utility. See next page
Best of luck with your hard disk cleanup. If you are not happy about it don't do it. If there is space inside your computer get an additional hard disk instead ! Backup things which you think are important. Keep things in the Recycle Bin until you are sure EVERY program is working satisfactorily. At least a month. If you have problems you can e-mail me but everything you do is YOUR responsibility !
If you really want to start from scratch, reformat the drive. But it is a big job. See HERE
But, if you really want to wipe your drive completely, perhaps before recycling See Wikipedia on DBAN http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DBAN (DBAN is a Linux based boot disk which really wipes your drive.)
An additional hard drive ? See next page
* More about CD and DVD Writers
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