Get More Space On Your Phone, Tablet & PC (Part 3) - Scrub your system

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Scrub your system

Remove old System Restore points

System Restore can be a life saver if something goes wrong on your PC, but as restore points build up over days, weeks and months, they start to take up valuable space. You can reduce the amount of hard-drive storage allocated to System Restore by clicking Start, right-clicking Computer and selecting Properties (in Windows XP, right-click My Computer, choose Properties and click System Restore). Click the System Protection link, select the drive you want in the System Properties box and click Configure. Drag the slider to decrease the maximum amount of space that’s used for restore points. You can use CCleaner to remove old restore points and reclaim space. Go to Tools, click System Restore, select a point and click Remove.

CCleaner System Restore

CCleaner System Restore

Turn off the Hibernation feature

Hibernation is a power-saving state that writes the contents of your computer memory to a file on your hard drive’s boot partition (called Hiberfil.sys) before powering down. When you turn your PC back on, Windows checks for this saved file and loads it straight into memory, bypassing the usual slow start-up steps. While this lets you boot up significantly quicker, the Hiberfil.sys file can take up a lot of space - equal to the amount of memory you have installed in your system. If this feature is turned on, but you don't need it, you can disable it and reclaim that wasted space. Go to Start, type cmd, then right-click the Command Prompt entry and select ‘Run as administrator’. When the Command Prompt opens, type powercfg -h off and hit Enter.

Use Disk Cleanup to remove old system files

The built-in Disk Cleanup tool in Windows can remove lots of leftover junk, freeing up space on your hard drive. To run it, click Start and type Disk cleanup into the box and hit Enter (in XP, go to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools). Select the drive you want to target and click OK. Disk Cleanup will calculate how much space it will be able to free up. Click the ‘Clean up system files’ button, and select the drive again. You'll be able to remove system-error memory dumps, service-pack back-ups and more. Click the More Options tab to remove Shadow Copies, which are system-made back-ups of changed files.

Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup

Remove unwanted Windows extras

There are sure to be several built-in Windows applications that you don’t want or use, and uninstalling some of them will provide additional drive space. In Windows 7, go to Start, Control Panel, Programs, and click the ‘Turn Windows features on or off’ link. Deselect any items you don’t need, but make sure you know what they are first.

In Windows 8, open Search and type Windows features. Click Settings then select ‘Turn Windows features on or off’.

Add more storage

Store files in the cloud

There are lots of online storage services you can copy your files to, including Google Drive, SkyDrive, Dropbox and Box. Each offers a reasonable amount of free storage, so you can keep files and folders in the cloud rather than on your PC, phone or tablet. If you're concerned about how safe your files will be, you can back them up to multiple services. The best way to manage lots of storage accounts in one place is Jolidrive (, which was the subject of our Essential Masterclass in Issue 318 (

Buy extra cloud storage

If the free space on offer isn’t enough, you may be able to earn extra storage by performing tasks, such as referring friends to the service. Dropbox offers several ways to boost your space – see for more information.

Alternatively, you can just buy extra space for a nominal fee. Google gives you 15 GB of storage divided between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google + Photos. You can upgrade Google Drive to 25GB for $2.49 a month (Gmail will be upgraded to 25GB for free, too), or to 100GB for $4.99 a month (Gmail will again be upgraded to 25GB). The top plan offers an incredible 16TB of online storage, although at $799.99 per month, this is aimed at businesses rather than home users. See Google Drive’s ‘Storage plan pricing’ page ( for full details.

Storage plan pricing

Storage plan pricing

Add an external hard drive

External hard drives come in all sizes, and are pretty affordable these days, with prices starting at around $46.35 for a 2TB model. These connect to your computer via USB and provide a simple way to transfer files between PCs. Just move the files from your main computer to the external drive and connect it to any PC when you need to access them.

One of our favorite external drives is the Western Digital My Book Live Duo (, which consists of two desktop hard drives, offering a total of 4TB of storage. These connect to your wireless router and use RAID technology to create a second copy of your data, so that if one drive fails, you still have another back-up.

Add a wireless hard drive to your tablet

Instead of filling your iPad or Android tablet with photos and videos, you can copy them to a wireless USB drive such as the AirStash ( Just connect to the device via Wi-Fi and stream content using the free app or the web interface. Storage is provided by an SD card so you can easily add more space to the drive.

Add a larger memory card

Many smartphones and tablets let you increase their available storage by using a larger SD or microSD card. The location of the slot will vary depending on the device. On Microsoft Surface tablets, for example, it's tucked away behind the stand. Check your phone's specifications to see the maximum amount of space that you can expand to.

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