When choosing a new hard drive, it's critical to find one that matches the size of your device as well as your computing needs. Drives for laptops are generally smaller than traditional HDDs seen in many desktop systems, and solid-state drives - which are usable in both laptops and desktop computers - have a smaller form factor, too. However, that isn't the only sizing you need to worry about.
Hard drives cannot hold an unlimited amount of data. While modern hard drives can certainly hold more data than older generations, all of these devices have a finite amount of storage space available. In a system with only one hard drive, a certain portion of its capacity will almost always be dedicated to the operating system and the associated system files. Depending on the overall capacity of your hard drive, this could take up a large portion of your storage space. The remaining space - no matter of how much or how little - is known as free disk space.
Why is Free Space Important?
Free disk space is important for a number of reasons. Generally speaking, most drives perform better when they're not at full capacity. More data ultimately makes it harder for your system to find the files it needs, which can affect the overall performance of your system. But it's important for other reasons, too.
It's important to know how much free disk space you have before installing any new software. Since some modern software packages can be as large as several hundred gigabytes in size, it's critical that your hard drive has enough space to accommodate it. If not, you'll have no choice but to free up some disk space.
How Can I Get More Free Space?
Generally speaking, there are currently two types of compression used today - lossless and lossy. When storing individual files or folders, lossless compression is typically used. This results in a perfect, byte-for-byte copy of the source data within the compressed archive.
There are several steps you can take to free up some disk space on your hard drive. Not only are there third-party software solutions that offer their services, but most modern operating systems have some solutions built-in - including Windows.
Some of the best options to free up disk space in Microsoft Windows include:
Alternatively, most systems can use more than one hard drive at a time. Larger systems, like desktop PCs and servers, are capable of running multiple hard drives at once. While laptops can generally only accommodate one internal drive, additional drives are easily added via USB.
Making the Most of Your Disk Space
Today's drives can hold more data than ever before - for a price. Although the cost of HDDs and even solid-state drives are decreasing, other services - like cloud-based solutions, -- are quickly becoming preferred because of the speed, efficiency, and affordability.