Free Up Hard-Drive Space, Fast

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Manage Your Media

No matter how clean you try to keep your PC or how many extra disks you can bring to bear, you still can't clear away enough space without deleting something significant. Here's how you can minimize the painful choices.

For most home PCs, the only way you can possibly fill up a modern hard drive is to keep an archive of movies, music, and pictures, all of which you might have copies of elsewhere. Raw video and image files can take extraordinary amounts of space: A standard JPEG image captured with a 12-megapixel camera, for example, could consume about 6MB. Multiply that by the couple hundred pictures you take on a vacation, and you're looking at a pretty sizable chunk.

This is probably what your hard drive looks like.

If you've already put those photos on Facebook or Flickr, however, you could clear them off your hard drive and redownload them later with Fotobounce, an app that lets you upload and download whole albums with ease. Likewise, if you have videos on YouTube and you don't need the uncompressed video files any longer, you can always get rid of them and redownload YouTube's compressed versions later.

The same goes for music files. If you keep most of your music files on your iPod as well as on your PC, delete them from the PC temporarily and get them back later with any iPod manager utility (see "Back Up Your iPod to Your PC" for more details).

Finally, delete all of the old episodes of Law and Order you have lying around your hard drive. If you haven't caught up on last year's TV viewing yet, you probably won't miss them--and chances are, you can stream the DVD on Netflix Instant Play.

If you've done all that and you still can't clear out space, you likely need to buy a new hard drive. Have any other space-saving tricks? Share them--and your bloated-hard-drive stories--in the comments.

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