Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Advanced Ways to Free up Drive Space on a Windows Device

In last week's post "6 Quick Ways to Free up Space on a Windows Device" we discussed easy ways to remove unnecessary files to free up disk space. This week's post discusses more advanced ways to free up disk space. Running low on disk space can cause applications and programs to respond in unpredictable ways, fail to launch, or cause services to stop running. When any of these happens, productivity and efficiency decrease. 

In addition to previously described ways, there are more advanced ways to free up larger amounts of disk space. The two ways described in this post are:
  • Moving the pagefile.sys file off the C:\ drive
  • Moving locally saved email folders off the C:\ drive
NOTE:  These should only be done by someone who is comfortable manipulating these types of files because if done incorrectly, you may experience unintended results.

Moving the pagefile.sys file to another drive
The pagefile is used by the operating system to store items that normally reside in RAM (memory), and is accessed when more RAM is being requested than is available. The storage space set aside for the pagefile is dedicated to only this purpose. However, the amount of storage set for a pagefile can be modified and managed directly, or set to be managed automatically for all drives. To "move" the pagefile, a new pagefile must be created and set, then the original pagefile can be removed.
  • Open System Properties (In Windows 10/8 use Search, or in Windows 7 right-click on Computer and select Properties, then select Advanced System settings)
  • In the System Properties window, click on the "Advanced" tab
  • Under Performance, click on the "Settings" button

  • In the Performance Options window, click on the "Advanced" tab
  • Under Virtual Memory, click the "Change" button

  • Uncheck the box next to "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives" if it is checked
  • Click on a drive letter other than the C:\ drive to create a secondary pagefile
  • Set an initial and maximum size for the new pagefile in the boxes under the Custom size heading and click the "Set" button

  • NOTE: Be sure the maximum size is at least the same size as the existing pagefile.
  • Click on the C:\ pagefile listed at the top and click the radio button next to "No paging file", then click the "Set" button

  • Click "Ok" to close the windows
  • Reboot the device for the settings to be applied

Moving locally saved email folders off the C:\ drive
When local software applications are used for email, like Thunderbird or Outlook, local copies of email and email folders are stored and take up space on the local drive. Webmail, or mail accessed using a web browser like Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Comcast and others, typically do not store email files locally.

In Thunderbird:
  • Open Thunderbird
  • Click on the "Tools" menu and select "Account Settings"
  • Click on the "Server Settings" option in the list on the left
  • The location of the stored files is listed under the heading "Local Directory"

  • Click the "Browse" button next to the existing local directory location and browse to a new drive
  • Click "Select Folder" to select the new drive
  • Click "Restart" when prompted to apply the settings

In Outlook:
  • Locate where the files are being stored
    • Open Control Panel
    • Open Mail
    • Click on the Data Files option

    • The data file locations are listed next to each data file

  • Next, move the folders to a different drive
    • If open, close Outlook
    • Navigate to the location of the data file
    • Copy the data file to a different drive
    • Click Add to create a new data file
    • Choose the data file that was copied to a new location and click "OK"

    • Click on the old data file and click Remove to delete the old data file

When disk space is critically low, applications and programs can fail to open or respond and important system services may stop running. Moving the pagefile or email data files and folders to a secondary disk drive can help save critical disk space. Both of these ways of saving disk space should be done only by people who are comfortable working with these files. Also, only move these files to secondary drives that are always available and not to removable storage. Moving a data file to a new drive letter when that drive letter is part of the very same disk may not seem like it makes sense, but if the amount of storage assigned to the C:\ is running low and a secondary drive like D:\ or E:\ have plenty of unused space, it makes sense to move these files.

As always, making good use of what you already have is smart in any field, but especially so in tech!

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