Your PC’s hard drive is a storage space as well as a virtual memory. That memory kicks in whenever your computer’s RAM memory is full. But a hard drive typically works much slower than the actual RAM memory and it gets slower as it gets fuller. So a good clean-up once in a while can’t hurt.
But do pay attention: when cleaning up your hard drive, you should only remove files you no longer need as well as the so-called temporary files. These are, for instance, the multitude of small files your browser produced when you’re surfing the internet.
A simple way to remove these files is Windows Disk Cleanup. You can empty your recycle bin and clean up superfluous, double or temporary files, but also any system files and programmes you are no longer using. Mac users can download a range of free disk clean-up and maintenance tools such as AppCleaner, CleanMyMac… Most of these programmes offer a thorough explanation of the clean-up process.
Another important step in computer maintenance is defragmentation. Your hard drive stores files in fragments that are assigned a random location on the disk. When the fragments of a file are too widely spread, the computer has to spend more time looking for all the fragments and is slowed down as a result. By defragmenting your hard disk, all of the fragments are neatly rearranged and you should see a marked increase in speed.
In Windows, the Disk Defragmenter can take care of scheduled defragmentation, but you can also analyse and defrag your drive manually. Depending on the size of the hard drive, this can take anywhere from minutes up to hours. Mac operating systems use a more intelligent approach to handle disk space allocation, and they file fragmentation only occurs when the drive is nearly full.
Aside from the built-in tools, there is a vast array of free and paying analytical and maintenance tools, such as SlimCleaner and Revo Uninstaller, available to boost your hard drive’s performance.