My computer has been running really, really slowly. Could this be related to the fact that I have a ton of videos, music, and photo files, and my hard drive is nearly full? I wonder if I removed some of those files, the computer would run better?
Most of the time, when people ask if their computer is running slow because they have too much stuff on their hard drive, we tend to chuckle. We do that, as you might guess, because we’re somewhat condescendingly thinking that the questioner has confused too little RAM (Random Access Memory), which could, and often does, cause computers to run slowly, with a lack of space in permanent storage (the hard drive), which generally doesn’t cause the computer to slow down. Definitely add more memory to your computer if you can, and if you have less than 8GB.
On the other hand, having a lot of stuff on your hard drive isn’t generally a cause for alarm. We say “generally,” because there comes a point at which an overloaded hard drive can cause trouble. Your computer needs free hard drive space for swapping things in and out of memory, for general house-keeping, and for the constant maintenance that the operating system performs.
In general, the rule of thumb is that you should have at least 15% of your hard drive space empty. In general terms, then, for a 500GB hard drive, you would want around 75GB to be free space, and use up to 425GB. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it can’t hurt. If you fill your hard drive so that very little space is free, the computer won’t be harmed, but you may find that performance suffers.
Clear off some of the excess stuff (you don’t need it!) to ensure that your computer runs as well as possible.