Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is your hard drive too full?

If you can answer yes to this question, you need to take a time out from scrapbooking for a day or two and do some housecleaning.

All it will take is one virus infection to install gobs of software to completely lock you out of your system, which has happened to me (I had only 14 gigs though, tons for that time - 2001).

The project can seem overwhelming, however you'll feel so good when you are done.

What should you do first?


Make sure in your folder options you have hidden files shown, this is important and I'll go into the reasoning why later.

If you have ACDSee, use it instead of Windows Explorer. If you don't, download the trial version and use that. Do not use Picasa - why is coming.

Once you are organized, you'll need to...


On CD, DVD, another computer, an external hard drive. I suggest keep your everyday stuff copied on the hard drive and a back up on CD/DVD that you will never use unless you lose the data on your hard drive. If you want to work from the CD/DVD, then make 2 copies and keep your paws off the archived copy - even write that on it. Put these in your fire box if you have them. Or store them elsewhere, not in the same building as your first copies or computer. Fires, flood, Ike's and Katrina's wreck havoc on our precious data. Precious are the photos, the designs you create and the time you spent downloading ever little piece of the Digitreats collection. You don't want to lose that.


Now that you've backed up your files, you might want to look around for any unused programs that you don't want. If you don't know what that program is, google it. Find out if you can uninstall it, if it's a virus or a vital part of your system. I keep index cards of these when I do this for later use. I tuck them into a file folder in my desk with all of my computer papers. If you are 50 years old and the only one using your computer, why do you have the Bob the Builder program taking up 250 megs of your hard drive when you can have one of my kits sitting there instead? Also, uninstall those expired trial games and programs you don't plan on upgrading.


While you are organizing, be on the lookout for what I consider 'useless space hogs'. I have posted on this subject before, I believe here but for sure on Raks. These files I speak of are thumbnail generators. They are left behind inside each folder you have viewed with a Corel, Picasa or Windows XP product. These buggers have been found in numerous downloads and can take up a lot of space. I have downloaded a kit and found one that was a meg all by itself. What do these do? They don't exist until there's a folder that is opened by that program and the folder contains images. What it does is enable you to view the contents even faster the next time you open that folder. Not really necessary. I deleted over 3 gigs of these when I first discovered them, what they were and how they were not vital to my computer.

Earlier I mentioned having hidden files shown. These thumbnail files are hidden. ACDSee will show them after you visit Options in ACDSee and tell it to view hidden files. And this is why I said not to use Picasa, because Picasa won't delete the file while Picasa is running, same most of the time for XP. These files will regenerate if you are using those programs. I don't have XP or Picasa and very rarely use my Corel products so these are an annoyance and, well, hogging my valuable space.

There are simple steps you can take besides using ACDSee to delete these. You can do a Windows search on your hard drive to find these files and control-A to select all and delete at one time. The files you are looking for are: Windows XP - thumbs (make sure you are not deleting an image called thumbs, you'll know the difference right away), Corel - jbf.browse, and Picasa - the file extension escapes me but you'll know this one when you see it too.

I won't forget that ACDSee has a thumbnail file too, but it doesn't distribute to other computers when you zip a folder of designs up and send it to 4shared. ACDSee has a couple files called ImageDB.ddf and ImageDB.dtf stored in my folder located here: Computer>Local Disk C>Users>Holly>AppData>Roaming>ACD Systems>ACDSee. My AppData file is a hidden folder, another reason to unhide things in Windows folder options. If you can't see it in your named folder, my case "Holly", then click on tools>folder options and find the hidden files box. You can delete these ImageDB files only if ACDSee is closed. It'll create new ones once you start it back up again. Right now mine are 38 and 149 megabytes. Again, it's safe to delete. It'll only take a couple extra seconds to view all contents of that folder when you visit it again.

Using Gimp? Yep, that stores tons of data. My thumbs are located in Users>Holly>.thumbnails - open the thumbnails folder to find fail and normal. Fails are tiny so I don't worry about it. Normal can be huge. I dump mine once a week when I am doing a lot of work with Gimp. I have found this file to be over 100 megs. Don't delete the folder, just the contents. If you accidentally delete it, just create a new folder called normal with a lowercase letter.


Do you have tons of brushes, shapes, styles, filters, etc. that you never use installed on your computer? Put them on a CD/DVD as well. You should have a back up of all of your tools anyway but if you are not using them, they are taking up space and also slowing down your load time for the program you are using - PSP, PSE, Gimp, whatever. Same thing with Fonts. Get a font manager like the Font Thing and don't have fonts installed you don't use. Back them up on a disk and get them off your computer. You can put the CD in later, explore it in ACDSee and it'll give you a preview of your font and you can choose to install it from ACDSee.


You've backed up your valuables, you deleted old programs, you deleted bad files and have emptied the recycle bin. Now what?


Yeah, I know. Run this while you are cleaning the house and doing other things and you don't plan on being on the computer any time soon. I do it while I sleep, but that's only recommended if you have defragged before.

What is defragging?

Defragging is like a closet organizer. You install, download, move, delete, and alter files over and over again. This creates pockets between data and it takes a bit longer for your computer to find a pocket to tuck new data or to find your data you are asking for. So you have your closet, you remove a box, cram in a pile of papers, you take a couple papers out, replace those papers somewhere else... you get the idea. You'll go back to the closet, everything is there, just where? It'll take you more time to find it now.

Defragging takes your data and organizes it so it's faster to find your data and also when you have new data, it can find empty space faster. It also dedicates the recycled space to better use. Technically, the data you delete is still there. You told the computer you don't want that data and all it does is earmark that space for writing over at a later time. If you never write over it, there are programs that can retrive this data because the software tells the program to read the 'writable' space, even though you trashed it.

You can google these topics and find other people's tips and opinions before proceeding, especially if you are on a Mac (I don't know much if anything on those). All I know is what worked for me.

Time for me to defrag my house, seriously!


PCLicious Video Tutorials said...

Oh yes I have used ACDsee in the past and those files do get rather large (I have since switched to Ulead Photo Viewer).

One thing many people neglect or forget to do is DEFRAG and BACKUP! LOL.

There is a free tool to check your hard drive in detail called Folder Size, it can show you which files are the largest on your hard drive so you can back them up if needed and delete to have more space.

Working with a large video and graphic files I use this tool alot.

Here is a video tutorial to help install and use it:How To Find Available Hard Drive Space In 3 Easy Steps Using Folder Size

Great long but well written post, keep it up!

PhatFatBaby said...

THANK YOU FOR THE REMINDER! I had only 2 gigs left on my 160 gig drive. I got right on this. I had zips and unzipped things that wer ethe same. Got them off. Bought one of those extra hard drives for my kits I downloaded. I put copies on a dvd. I haven't defraged yet but will. I allready notice a big difference. Oh I got rid of 17 programs. I found 5 of them were running every time my computer was on and I don't even use them!

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