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Keep Your Computer's Drive Clean with These Tips

Although today’s hard drives are meant to achieve fast access times while offering an unprecedented amount of storage space, many PC users still find their hard drives consumed with digital junk. Useless programs, viruses and even malicious software, also known as malware, can all fill a hard drive to capacity in a matter of moments. Even worse, some of this software can slow your computer down to speeds that render your system unusable.

Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take – even as an average computer user – to rid your hard drive of unnecessary files such as junk programs, duplicate data, fragmented files and more. Some solutions include the use of third-party software, though most can be enacted using the applications that are already included with your operating system.

Eliminating Junk Programs

Let’s face it – no matter how careful you are in installing new software and storing new chunks of data, you’re bound to install some junk programs at some point. While these may or may not be malicious in nature, they can still bog down a system just the same. Today’s popular operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, include an option to “Add or Remove Programs,” which is accessible through the operating system’s Control Panel. Clearing out old and junk applications regularly can help keep your computer running at its maximum efficiency.

Folder Management

Whenever possible, make use of folders to store related files and chunks of data. This is done automatically when installing most software, but data copied manually will need to be organized manually. For example, storing your newly downloaded files in a folder that is separate from your personal photos, music and video files not only increases the overall organization of your hard drive, but it helps to maintain a healthy PC as well.

Removing Duplicate Data

While duplicate files are not usually a huge problem on personal computers, they can wreak havoc on a computer’s hard drive if left unchecked. There a number of free software solutions available that will scan your hard drive for duplicate files. The best programs available will help you find duplicate results according to file size, file name or even other specific attributes. Some applications even allow you the option to ignore certain files from the search.

Defragmentation

When files are stored on your hard drive, they aren’t necessarily stored in the most effective manner. Related files and pieces of data may be stored in different physical areas of the drive, especially as other programs are installed, removed and modified over time. This is the primary cause of hard drive fragmentation, and it can certainly slow your system down.

Because fragmentation is such a common occurrence, today’s operating systems typically include built-in defragmentation software. An automated program, such defrag applications only require a couple clicks of the mouse on your behalf. Many can even be scheduled to run automatically at a specific time, and most defrag programs can be customized to exclude certain files or folders if necessary.

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