Steps to take before spending money on costly upgrades.
Empty the trash. Files dragged to the trash icon may be out of sight, but they continue to eat up valuable space. Only when the trash is emptied is space freed up.
Restart your computer. Even when you quit a program, large ones may continue to siphon off memory. Restarting (or "rebooting") adjusts this problem.
Fix fragmented files. Over time, files on your hard drive may become fragmented, i.e. a file may be broken up into pieces and written on different far away locations on the hard disk drive, requiring more time to read the file from the hard disk drive. Most PCs come with a defragment program. In Windows you can find it under Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter.
Purge old e-mail files. Many e-mail programs save copies of every message you send. Empty or reduce this backup file to free up hard-drive space. If necessary, ask your e-mail service to help locate the files.
Switch off start-ups. Programs that support instant messaging and calendars begin running as soon as you start your computer and use up its resources. You're better off turning them on as needed.
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