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How to Clean up your Hard Disk

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 3/15/2010

Installation of software and add-ons take up more space than system requirements specifications. There are several methods for cleaning up your hard disk by uninstalling software. However, this article details all possible methods to clean up your hard disk.

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    Using Disk Cleaners to Clean up your Hard Disk

    Cleaning up your hard disk by Uninstalling software will remove the software and thus, free up some space. Sometimes, the program will not remove all the elements it installed and leave out some such as: folders; data files; temporary files; and very often, keys in the Windows registry. To clean up your hard disk properly, I always suggest you check out these details and eliminate them as well so that you gain that extra space left even after uninstalling any software.

    Before uninstalling any programs, you may want to run the Windows Disk Cleaner to see if you gain enough free space. This utility allows you to remove unwanted files while helping you remove System Restore points that often take up substantial space. Furthermore, it also helps you compress old files so that you gain some extra space. This is good way to clean up your hard disk and to keep it tuned. You can find the Disk Cleaner software in the System Tools sub-menu in Accessories under All Programs.

    Alternatively, you can opt to use of one the best free system cleaners that give you more control on cleaning your hard disk. I would recommend you to use either of these tools on a regular basis so that your hard disk is free of clutter and hence faster.

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    Cleaning up your Hard Disk by Uninstalling Software

    Coming back to cleaning up your hard disk by uninstalling software, almost every software program is accompanied by an uninstaller. It may not always reflect in its Program Group in the All Programs under Start menu. You may want to check out the folder where you installed the software. The best method is to use the software's uninstaller. This will make sure that it removes all of the program’s elements, except for some registry entries. As far as I have experienced, each program tends to leave some registry keys even if you uninstall it completely.

    TIP: If you forgot the folder where you installed the software, right click on its icon and select Properties. In 99 percent cases, you will get an option named Find Target. When you click the button, it opens the folder so that you can search for uninstaller.

    If the software did not come with any uninstaller or if you were not able to find the uninstaller for the program, you can always use the Add/Remove Programs option from the Control Panel. Though it works for all programs, you may get a message that the Windows Uninstaller could not remove some elements. Normally, people ignore this. If you want to remove the program completely, click on the Details button to see what all elements are left. In most cases, it is the program folder. You may copy-paste the details into a Notepad and manually remove the elements. While deleting the elements, if you get a message saying "Unable to Delete…" reboot and try to delete the folders/files. If the message still appears, use Unlocker to kill the processes that are preventing you from deleting the folder/file. Once Unlocker kills the processes, you can easily delete the folder/file.

    For Microsoft programs and add-ons, I would suggest that you also use Windows Installer CleanUp Utility to remove all possible leftovers to clean up your hard disk. The software is free to use. It may however, not work with some of the MS products. You get details when you click the above link.

    TIP: No matter what method you use to clean up your Hard Disk, it is good to run a Windows Registry Cleaner to get rid of leftover keys. If you do not have a Registry Cleaner, I recommend you download and use the free Comodo System Cleaner.

    In short, for cleaning up your hard disk by uninstalling software, try to use the uninstaller that came with the program. If there is no uninstaller, use Add/Remove Programs. If you removed a Microsoft application to clean up your hard disk, use the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility for further cleaning. Finally, use a Registry Cleaner to remove any leftover keys in the Windows Registry.