Hard disk full: finding more space for your computer

  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 28 Mar 2017

Quick fix: The easiest solution for desktop PC owners is to add a new hard drive to a computer that has space for one.

Holiday pictures, party videos, movies or music: eventually every hard drive reaches its limits and a new storage medium needs be found.

But what’s the best way to do it? Do you just expand the computer’s memory or move your operating system and programmes to another computer? And do you opt for a large conventional drive or more expensive but faster SSD memory?

The easiest solution for desktop PC owners is to add a new hard drive to a computer that has space for one. You should make sure the new disk has as much space as possible, advises Rainer Schuldt from computer magazine Computerbild.

"Today, three-terabyte hard disks are already available for a relatively small amount of money," he says.

A new disk can usually be installed in a few minutes and after a restart it’s recognised by the operating system. Then you just have to move your data from the old disk to the new.

In the case of older computers it makes sense to use a new, larger hard drive not just to store more files, but as an opportunity to reinstall the operating system and software, says Josef Reitberger from Chip computer magazine. This will make the system run faster.

It can make sense to store the OS and programmes on an SSD drive and your data on a conventional hard disk. And that’s not just because SSD storage is more expensive.

"An SSD is a real accelerator but the problem is that it’s much more sensitive when it comes to data storage than a physical disk,” Schuldt says. "Files that you want to keep in the long run, like photos or videos, should always be stored on a normal HDD."

If you are transferring the OS and programmes, one of the free tools such as Clonezilla can be useful or the migration tools that often come with SSD drives. The main thing is to ensure that the destination drive is at least as big as the one you’re moving from.

To transfer everything at once, a so-called cloning of the system, you need to be able to connect the new drive parallel to the old one. To do this, you can either install it inside the computer or connect it via an adapter, Reitberger says. USB adapters to do this can be bought cheaply.

If you’re replacing an older drive with a new one and cloning the system onto that it makes sense to first save your most important data on an external drive.

In the case of laptops there’s rarely the possibility of installing a second drive internally, says Hans-Georg Esser from EasyLinux magazine. Generally a second bay for a hard drive is only available in gaming laptops or laptops with large displays.

If the laptop has a DVD or Blu-ray drive there may be the possibility to install a second hard drive there instead, Esser says. Otherwise you’ll need to use an external drive or replace the internal drive with a bigger one. —  dpa

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