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Deleting Unnecessary Files

If you find that a hard disk partition is getting low on free space, you should delete any unneeded files and programs. Windows Vista comes with a Disk Cleanup utility that enables you to remove certain types of files quickly and easily. Before discussing this utility, let’s look at a few methods you can use to perform a spring cleaning on your hard disk by hand:

  • Uninstall programs you don’t use— If you have an Internet connection, you know it’s easier than ever to download new software for a trial run. Unfortunately, that also means it’s easier than ever to have unused programs cluttering your hard disk. Use the Control Panel’s Add or Remove Programs icon to uninstall these and other rejected applications.

  • Delete downloaded program archives— Speaking of program downloads, your hard disk is also probably littered with ZIP files or other downloaded archives. For those programs you use, you should consider moving the archive files to a removable medium for storage. For programs you don’t use, you should delete the archive files.

  • Archive documents you don’t need very often— Our hard drives are stuffed with ancient documents that we use only rarely, if at all: old projects, business records from days gone by, photos and videos from occasions held long ago, and so on. You probably don’t want to delete any of this, but you can free up hard disk space by archiving those old documents to removable media such as recordable CD or DVD disks, or a flash drive.

  • Remove Windows Vista components that you don’t use— If you don’t use some Windows Vista components, remove them from your system. To do this, select Start, Control Panel, Programs, Turn Windows Features On or Off. Enter your UAC credentials to see the Windows Features dialog box. Deactivate the check box for each feature you don’t use, and then click OK.

  • Delete application backup files— Applications often create backup copies of existing files and name the backups using either the bak or .old extension. Use Windows Explorer’s Search utility to locate these files and delete them.


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