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Clearing Your Hard Drive


Leslie Burton from Ny writes:

“I went to backup my computer on the hard drive. It wasn’t enough space to do the backup. How can I get back that space that was use on the backup? My computer OS is 7 64bit. Is there an easy way to retrieve that space back to where it was? Thank You”

Hi, Leslie.  Thanks for the great question! 

You didn’t say, but I’m guessing that you’re backing up to an external hard drive?  The first thing that you want to do is to make sure that your external drive is at least as large as the drive that you’re backing up to it.  So, for instance, if you have a 500 GB hard drive in your machine, then you want an external hard drive that is 500 GB or larger.  I know that this sounds elementary, but what’s possible is that your external hard drive is smaller than your internal hard drive, but up until now, there has been little enough information on your internal drive that you haven’t filled it up yet.  Here’s how you check the size of these drives.  Plug your external hard drive into your machine, and then do this:  first click START and then COMPUTER.

Take a look at the drives listed on your computer and it will show you how much space is available on each drive, as well as how much data is used.

In this example, I have 3.72 GB of usable space on my drive, and almost none of it is used.  If your removable drive is smaller than your internal drive, then I would recommend buying a larger external.  If the removable drive is larger, then I would recommend simply reformatting the drive to clear all of the space.  In order to do that, right-click on the drive and then click FORMAT.

This will open up your format options menu.

Make sure that QUICK FORMAT is checked.  This will allow your format to process in a matter of seconds or minutes instead of hours.  The only reason to uncheck the “quick format” box is if you think that there may be errors on the drive.  If that’s the case, then you want to do a full format instead, which not only reformats the disc, but will also run a check disc on the drive to check for errors.

Once you’ve got the disc cleared, you’re free to start your backup!

Another suggestion that I give frequently when it comes to backups is redundancy.  I recommend doing two backups, one that you store at your home for quick and easy access and another to store off-site (such as at a friend’s house or a storage unit).  The reason that I suggest this is so that if something happens to one of your backups, you’ll still have the other one.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

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One Response to “Clearing Your Hard Drive”

  1. Craig Price says:

    How about his information for a MAC? I have an external hard drive (2TB) and every time it backs up my files, it makes another copy of the original. Therefore I have 5, 6, or more copies of the same thing, which is wasting space on my internal hard drive and I never know which one to choose, so I have to open them all. How do you avoid this from happening? Thank you very much.
    Craig Price

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