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How to safely remove files from your hard drive.

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What do you do when your hard drive gets cluttered with folders and files that you no longer need anymore? Not all programs are freestanding, meaning that sometimes they share some of the files that other programs use, or the are sometimes linked to other programs. When you remove folders and files from your hard drive you have to be very careful to not remove the shared files or break the links. Regularly following this suggestion may help you avoid the frustration of having to re-install some of the programs and files that you use on a regular basis.

How I safely remove unused folders and files from my hard drive. (Windows 95 and Windows 98)

Here is how I check to see if my unused folder or file is really not needed.

  1. I copy the folder or file into a separate "hold" folder, directly on my "c:/" drive titled "c:/holdto____" and each time I create a new "hold" folder, I replace the "____" with a real date... (Example - c:/holdtojuly1 - usually at least a month away)
  2. The easiest way to do this is by using "Explore". To open "Explore", right-click your "Start" button and choose "Explore" from the menu, by clicking it. On the top list of menus, you will want to make sure the "details" option is checked on the "view" menu. Using the left scroll bar (if it is exposed), scroll to the top of the left window, so that the details of your "c:/" drive are easily accessible. If you are unsure how to proceed, the "help topics" in the "help" menu on the top list of menus will provide you with assistance for the "Explore" area.
  3. In this "holdto____" folder, I include a small NOTEPAD file (of_the_same_file_name.txt) that tells me where my folder or file originated from and other pertinent memory joggers, in case I need to restore that folder or file to the location I got it from. I use the *.txt file from NOTEPAD because it has no additional formatting included with it and it uses very little space on my hard drive. To use NOTEPAD, click your "Start" button and go up to "Programs", then choose "Accessories" from the "Programs" menu. Choose "Notepad" from the "Accessories" menu. When you are done making your note to yourself, name the NOTEPAD file the same name as the file or folder you just put in that file, so it will be easy to locate, especially if you have quite a few folders and files in that same "holdto____" folder.
  4. Once this has been done, I delete the original file or folder. (I follow this procedure because if I "move" the folder or file, all active links move with it, and I have accomplished nothing but move the folder or file from one area of my hard drive to another.)
  5. I continue using my computer as usual.
  6. When the date on the "holdto____" folder arrives, I review my NOTEPAD note and move the complete "holdto____" folder to the "Recycle Bin"
  7. I then empty the recycle bin by right clicking it and choosing "Empty Recycle Bin" from the menu.
  8. I follow the above procedure because it provides me with the opportunity to "test" the folders or files that I am proposing to remove from my hard drive.
  9. The alternative to the above would be to remove the folders or files by placing them in the Recycle Bin and then selectively emptying the Recycle Bin. I used to follow this procedure until I deleted a few files from the Recycle Bin that I really had intended to keep for a while longer. Necessity has caused me to develop the above procedure.

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