Get more space on C:


What is "Windows Explorer"?

by "Windows Explorer" I do not mean IE (Internet Explorer). these are not the same thing. Windows Explorer is the same as Start, My Computer, and is a file browser/manager which you can also get to via [windows-logo-flag-key]-E. Internet Explorer is a web browser.

Ran out of space on C:? Here's some ways to get some space.

  • MPEG and JPEG files are only compressable using Stuffit or WinZip. both of these archivers are capable of handling large files,and can also compress mpegs, jpegs without data loss.
  • start, my computer, go into recycle bin, right click on it, and empty it. it probably has stuff in it that you have deleted but haven't really deleted completely. eventually this stuff will go away, windows deletes these files when it needs to free up some space automatically I think (maybe it's only though "desktop cleanup" - perish the thought). but you can free up some space immediately by deleting these "deleted" files! in the future when you delete files and you want to permanently delete them do shift-delete in windows explorer.
  • compress folders using windows's built-in filesystem compression (click here or scroll to article at bottom of page)
  • make .zip/.7z/.sit or other archive file using winzip or 7-zip file (7-zip file is safer than windows's built-in zip) and burn on long-term archival storage. AVOID windows' built-in "compressed(zipped) folders". on XP, that feature breaks during archiving and corrupts the resulting zip file, and your source files, if moved, are lost (data loss). it also doesn't handle anything over 2GiB without corrupting it. 7-zip, winzip, and stuffit are much better. if you have commandline prowess, you can archive to dvd-sized chunks with 7z a -v4500m somearchive.7z c:\somedirectory\somedir\ or to cd-r sidedd chunks with 7z a -v670m somearchive.7z c:\somedirectory\somedir\ (I leave some room on edges for accidental fingerprints, the real values if you are careful should be 4699m and 699m (4300m and 630m are better for edge fingerprints) and if you have blu-ray it's 24g for BD-R (SL) or 49g for BD-R DL). 7-zip has the nice feature if being able to automatically split into chunks (if you have the disk space for the resulting archives). the resulting archives will have 3-digit zero-padded sequence numbers for file extensions staring with .001 for 7-zip. 7-zip and such compression programs handle the deep directories that dvd's might not. make sure you include a copy of the zip program and the license code on the last disc.
  • buy an external RAID box or NAS or (if you have the money, a SAN) or a Glyph. if you need massive RAID storage, consider an emc clariion RAID "refrigerator" box, or other EMC. smaller 19" rack RAID exists at many a company, Adaptec makes what looks like a terrific 4GB cached RAID controller. google RAID 19" rack. there is the SnapServer. hard disks good for 5 years.
  • if your power supply has enough power to handle the extra 30W apiece, add an extra internal hard drive (or several). hard disks good for 5 years.
  • use an external hard drive. hard disks good for 5 years.
  • Go to Internet Explorer and go into Tools, Options (or if you have an icon that isn't just a shortcut, right-click on it and pick properties). you can set the maximum amount of space used by IE for Temporary Internet Files to whatever size suits your need. in newer versions, you can set a megabyte or gigabyte limit, although megabytes is more reasonable. older versions used a percentage of hard disk space. If you have a percentage, consider your disk size — 10% is pretty big. if you are really pressed for space, click the button to "delete temporary internet files" (but don't mess with your cookies). If you are on IE7 or later, there is a "delete browsing history" button, from there choose "delete temporary internet files". you should make sure you don't delete the other stuff or some web sites may not work as expected (if they have cookies set). Some cookies are essential. some are not. with other browsers like firefox and chrome, opera, safari, etc. at least you can clear cookies and delete browser history of various types.
  • if you have been using IE (or favorite browser) and go into tools/(the gear), options, start up IE or go into control panel, internet options, browsing history, you can either choose to delete history on exit, or if you want the same "speed" when you revisit pages, you can click the settings button, and change the disk space used to a lower value. you can also reduce the number of days a page is kept in history if you visit the same pages often.
  • if on XP and drive is full, use fsutil.
  • consider using FSS Casper 7.0 software and a larger hard disk of the same type (IDE? SATA?) to upgrade to a larger hard disk. you will probably need to swap drives after you are done and wipe the old one with autoclave or dban. At least until I decide to bring back my WipeGUI. if former drive is a 2TB drive and it's full, consider compression above, if this is already used up, you need to convert the partition type to a GPT partition if possible (GPT can handle larger sizes), THEN upgrade the drive to a larger size using fss casper. this may work, but I am not entirely sure about GPT partitions due to the GUIDs.
  • copy your favorite files onto a USB external drive (preferably hard disk) and then delete or shift-delete (more permanent) them off of the source machine. there is no way to "move" across drives in windows except using cut and paste. I suggest you leave the drive installed and powered as long as the computer is powered so there is no chance of disconnecting the NTFS or FAT filesystem while the cache has not been flushed. If you need to disconnect the device, use "safely remove hardware" green arrow icon in the notification area/system tray (lower right hand corner of screen).
  • move your fonts directory: copy the directory, change the registry entry HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folder\Fonts from C:\WINDOWS\Fonts to some other drive like d:\fonts, reboot, and zap the old directory.  voila, an extra 28MB.  Realize that some installers may hard-code the directory, so don't just delete the old directory/folder altogether. This is a tough one. [this probably does not work well, since windows tends to keep the fonts in a hard-coded/fixed directory, so ignore this idea, same goes with moving My Documents,My Videos, My Pictures, and My Music. they have registry entries for changing all this stuff and even provisions for"moving" them if you right click on the directories. but that only breaks things or doesn't move anything at all. best to leave those alone.]
  • delete unused user accounts YOU PERSONALLY have created. not user accounts which programs have created! since windows doesn't actually delete the files it made inthe first place when you click the button to delete the user account's files, you will probably need to do this manually after deleting the files and account first using the buttons (the official way to be safe). then do to c:\users\ or c:\documents and settings\ and delete the target user name folder after rebooting. if you can't delete it, delete whatever you can in it. should free up about 100GB. make sure you know which user account is which if you have renamed user acocunts, because only the original name is on the hard disk directory/folder name. on my old box, i made the mistake of creating another admin account for recovery purposes, and discovered much later that not only did it copy my programs, it also copied Favorites, My Documents, My Pictures, My videos, My Music, etc. cost be a total of 250GB since my documents was 150GB. if you have lots of programs installed, chances are you can add the size of your application data and local settings folder. and installers additionally to the 100GB.
  • clear off old dated/versioned ISO files! those things are big. if they are old and you have newer versions which are better, clean off the old junk.
  • delete movies you don't care for you have downloaded.
  • clean out things you don't want out of your downloads folder. c:\users\downloads\ or c:\documents and settings\my documents\downloads, probably has a huge pile by now if you like downloading pdf's, programs, videos, music, pictures, and stuff.
  • upgrade your hard disk.

gotchas - things to avoid doing you may have heard recommended by someone else or on some web site

  • it has been said you can just delete the files in the c:\temp or c:\windows\temp directory, but this is NOT TRUE on anything but Windows 3.1 machines and maybe windows 95! these directories are used as install target locations now... your machine will behave unpredictably if you just delete stuff out of it. Windows XP,Vista,7 has a "delete temporary files" feature that does the cleanup for you when you try to empty the recycle bin. the reason why, is many software vendors, including Blacknberry, use this directory to store installers as .tmp files. some antivirus software erroneously tries to tuneup your PC and removes these temporary files. this is a big mistake - it broke my freshly installed applications. if you have such a "tune-up" feature, disable all of it immediately. the rest of the antivirus is OK if I remember right.
  • In MS Word and Excel versions around 2.0 or so, it would create temporary files and leave them there, and you could delete them. but this is not the case anymore. microsoft office temporary files (if it is not running) may be deleted (but realize also that this may be your backup! if you have lost your original!) office leaves a similarly-named file with a ~ character in the filename. office 2007 and later creates shortcuts (.lnk fies) to those files you do NOT want to delete - if you do, it not only makes a mess internally because you didn't get all the shortcuts, it deletes the original file!
  • Got Win2000/XP/Vista/7? in the control panel into the performance and maintenance section, you should see a link that says "free up disk space" or it simply just pops up in your notification area bugging you incessantly. IF you click on this, it will remove files that have not been used recently. this COULD mean precious pictures and videos! I also suggest that you avoid going into the "more options" and "remove windows components that you do not use". How do you predict what windows will interpret as unused? what if you use charmap for special wordprocessing characters or fax service, and it takes it away? And you don't know what you will use in the future. If you do intend touse something use haven't used in over amonth or two, you have to reinstall or repair/refresh windows to get it back.
    Fair Warning: Don't tinker around inside winnt, windows, program files, documents and settings, and system volume information folders unless you really know what you are doing, because you can royally mess up your system and have to reinstall everything including the OS from scratch. Setting a permission or excryption on a folder (especially the ones I just mentioned!) can cause a lot of havoc or a need for a reinstall. compression is fine enough. If it can't be compressed, your OS will simply complain. Disk Compression Technology has only recently stabilized around the XP era at least as far as windows goes. Can you trust it when the filesystem gets corrupted? I don't know for sure. I think you can lose a lot more data that way if your machine decides to freeze up. Only testing will tell. I am testing a Windows 2000 box with nearly full compression because it only has a 4GB disk. So far so good. I don't know if the registry got compressed, probably not since it was open.

compressing folders using windows's built-in filesystem compression - how


  • compression slows down the computer slightly
  • uses some RAM/Virtual Memory - on Windows 8 it uses about 1028MB~=1GiB of RAM/memory for compressing about 4 major folders simultaneously on a box with only a 40GB partition. it uses about 420MiB of memory afterewards residual.
  • if you choose to compress the c:\windows directory, it WILL be a bumpy, severely annoying ride if you decide to compress your windows directory. you will get 1000+ popup dialog boxes (at least on XP - I would expect things haven't changed) asking permission to change properties on such and such a special protected system folder or special protected system file.

compressing the entire c:drive takes a whole day. you get about 50% more disk space. My only issue with doing this is you don't want to touch the hidden c:\System Volume Information\ folder. don't touch that folder! you are better off doing the steps below.

ever compressed/extracted a zip/rar/7z file before? you get the idea now about how slow it is. well, there's about 1,000,000 files to process. it goes a little faster than commercial compression programs since the compresion is built into the OS's filesystem drivers.

if you want to compress individual directories, you will have to view hidden & system files and folders to do this, which is in folder options in the control panel, classic view, or choose somehow to view system folders/files (big warning and all that).

By the way, MPEG and JPEG files are not compressable except using Stuffit.

web documents (html, xml,xhtml), SQL, .log files, and documents written with wordpad, notepad, textpad, or a programmer's editor (text files) are VERY compressable. for example, a typical compiler which has a large amount of text files consumes 1GB but will compress to 300MB - this also has lots of less-compressable binaries so it's probably not the best example of that.

  1. start, my computer (or just do [windows-logo-flag-key]-E, c:
  2. If the folders I mentioned are not visible, you will probably need to click something in Tools|Folder Options|Advanced Settings of the Explorer to allow you to see system folders. Once they are shown to you, they will always be shown. WARNING: if you are not good with windows's innards or you don't know what you are doing and your installation is precious to you, don't mess with this.
  3. make sure the folders button on the toolbar is depressed if you have one (you probably do and it's probably not depressed by default). If it's not visible,
    1. Alt-V to get the View menu, Toolbars, make sure "lock the toolbars" is unchecked
    2. Alt-V to get the View menu, Toolbars, make sure "standard buttons" is checked
    3. Alt-V to get the View menu, Toolbars, make sure "address bar" is checked
    4. Alt-V to get the View menu, Toolbars, make sure "lock the toolbars" is checked (this is purely optional, it prevents you from making mistakes)
  4. expand c: drive if you so choose (a good idea)
  5. Pick which directories you want to compress (folders button is helpful for exploration). you may choose to compress the entire thing. (not all of it will compress). best-plan directories are C:\Temp, c:\program files\ or its equivalent and anything like it, c:\windows, c:\users\ or c:\documents and settings\ depending on whether you have vista and up or xp. If you have directories under c:\ which you created, do those too.
  6. right click on the directory in question, and pick Properties, Advanced button
  7. (you don't have to wait for the churning numbers) click the Compress checkbox, click OK, and go through all the hoops to make sure that this change applies to all subfolders and files.
  8. if you miss it you will have to undo it, redo it, and wait a long time.
  9. when it complains about files it couldn't compress, just click the "ignore all" button and it won't bother you for every little mishap.
  10. after all files processed (could take hours), click any OK buttons until the dialog boxes are all gone.
  11. do the same thing for any other folders you might find useful to compress.
  12. close windows explorer when you are finished with it (my computer)