Disk Space vs. Memory – Laptop

[photopress:pho.gif,full,alignright]I’m Pulling My Hair Out over LOW DISK SPACE!!! I need your help!!

Given the volume of emails I get with huge contract attachments, I keep getting “low disk space warnings”. I’m cleaning, I’m defragging, I’m erasing stuff I really don’t want to erase. STILL GETTING “low disk space” warnings and sometimes freeze ups.

I was going to get “more memory”, but was told that won’t help. Memory and disk space not the same.

I was told to get a memory stick to store things in, but I don’t get that. Once I put the memory stick in the laptop to work on whatever is in the stick, won’t I have the same problem?

Will deleting big Publisher files help? Word files? I’m at my wits end.

One thing I do know, if I go out and trade up to more memory and I STILL have disk space problems because more memory is not the answer, I’m going to shoot myself!

Your help appreciated. When I get five different answers I don’t know what to do. But maybe if you guys sort through all the answers, I’ll get a concensus opinion at the end.


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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

71 thoughts on “Disk Space vs. Memory – Laptop

  1. You could get an external hard drive, but word files and such shouldn’t be a big problem.

    How big is your hard drive?

    When are you getting the messages?

    What exactly do the messages say?

    Disk space is cheap and plentiful. Unless you have a very old computer or you are storing movies, 100s of thousands of songs or something, this shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Maybe you have another problem. A virus perhaps. Or your email is complaining about storage on a remote server.

  2. Ardell,

    Do you have a CD or DVD writer? You might try backing up your data to CD/DVD and then erasing those files.

    One way to find large files on your computer would be to START – SEARCH – FOR FILES… Then search for *.*, or all files, then sort by file size and visually scan through the larger files and delete the ones you don’t need.

    I suspect that you use Outlook 2003 or Outlook Express? Every now and then it’s important to clean out your inbox (inbox, sent mail, deleted items, etc), otherwise it just becomes unmanageable. You should be able to go to TOOLS – MAILBOX CLEANUP… from there you can sort your mail by date, size, etc and delete them by hand.

    You might want to run a backup of Outlook first: FILE / IMPORT-EXPORT, etc.

    I’d also recommend hiring a computer professional (This -is- Seattle after all) who should be able to solve this mess for you in less than 2 hours. It’s difficult to recommend something without actually seeing the problem firsthand.

    For example, you might also purchase a USB External Hard Disk to backup your current laptop HDD and then start deleting…

  3. I recently opted to buy a 160GB external hard drive from my local Fry’s when I started to run low on space. I see they have one going for less than a $100 and that would definitely last you a while based on what I *think* you do with a computer. (It also makes a great backup!).

    The way I use this hard-drive is to store the movies on my hard-drive and then set the external hard-drive to backup everything else on a regular basis.

    An external hard-drive is not always ideal, but it can definitely be effective.

  4. I use Outlook for my email, so I pretty much do everything on my laptop. I have no idea how big my hard-drive is. All I know is I have a “Widescreen HP Pavilion dv1000 Enterntainment Notebook PC” just reading you everything I can see.

    Movies? I only work and blog on the laptop.

    We used to get faxes, faxes and more faxes. But these days everything comes as an email attachment. Just checked my “documents” file and an offer in there is 741 KB. I’m printing it out and deleting it now.

    Is that too big of a file normally? If I have a bunch of them in an Outlook file marked “documents”, is that sucking up all of my “disk space”?

  5. Synthetik,

    If I sort for files, will it look everywhere? If I have old flyers stored in Publisher (they seem to be very large files) does that affect my “disk space”?

  6. I’d recommend getting an external hard drive. When I was doing my weekly movie/grocery run at Costco, I saw they had a 500 GB Western Digital monster for under $200 tonight. I’d then do what synthetik recommended (search for all files, sort by size), and either delete or move the larger files to your external hardrive.

  7. Biliruben,

    The message pops up in the lower left corner and says “low disc space” and offers to do some cleanup. That works for about two hours.

    I have erased all of my sent messages, but I hate that because sometimes I need to go back and pull from there. One of the advantages of using mostly email with my clients is I have a record of everything we talked about. But once I delete it all for “disk space” reasons…well, that just sucks.

  8. Any recommendations on hiring a professional? Will they take my laptop away. I think it’s permanently attached to my fingers now. I might have to have my hands amputated.

  9. I’m doing the “Sythetik Solution”, but it feels a little odd using the good advices of someone I’ve banned from my blog posts and delete regularly πŸ™‚ Thanks Synthetic. VERY, very BIG of you…really. Considering…

  10. WOW!! What is all THAT! Thanks Sythetic. Found Huge files. Looks like music. It’s not mine, that’s for sure. M4A files

    “And It Stoned Me” 4,292 KB
    “Astral Weeks” 6,666 KB

    Tons of stuff like this. What’s an M4A file? I’ll see if I can delete them.

  11. Mega thousands of KB I Tune stuff. I don’t listen to music on my laptop. Could the computer have come with this stuff…or is this my daughters getting into my laptop? GIRLS! GET UP HERE!

    I think we found the virus…her name is Jackie πŸ™‚

  12. In terns of a professional, I’d recommend a trade with Robbie… Maybe a spaghetti dinner for a cleaned out hard-drive and a complete install of an external hard-drive? πŸ˜‰

  13. Ardell,

    I’d think you probably know someone that could help you out, otherwise possible check Craiglist?

    I wouldn’t leave the laptop with anyone – I’d want to work through the backing up/deletion of any files to make sure nothing important was lost. So either have them come to you or bring the unit over to their house/office.

    IMO, having a good computer person is just as important as other professionals that keep your business going.

    I realize this is all very painful however if you put a little time and $$$ into the problem it should save you a lot of pain later.

  14. MA4 are music files I think, delete away.

    Instead of searching for *.*, try searching for *.ZIP, *.MP3 and even *.EXE. Be careful with EXE (Executable) files, since typically those are programs your PC needs (eg word.exe, excel.exe); however EXE files are often compressed ZIP files that “auto-execute” and companies such as AOL or NORTON use them to package large installation files.

    Also, search for *.HLP (Help Files) – generally large and not needed.


  15. Ardell, think of disk space (your hard drive) like your brain’s long term memory. You may remember the day you purchased your first home, but you don’t think about it all the time. Computer Memory is like your brain’s ability to chew gum and walk at the same time. Adding more disc space means you’ll be able to remember more stuff. Adding more memory means you’ll be able to multitask better.

    Those memory sticks add to the confusion because they use the same type of technoligy as computer memory, but perform the tasks of a hard drive.

    One other thing. Deleting programs you never use will also free up disk space.

  16. OK, I deleted thousands and thousands of KB I Tune somethings and then thousands and thousands of KB music, and I feel really bad about that. I took all my photos and put it on a CD.

    I went to the defrag thingie and it said I had 1% of free space. I get rid of things I don’t really want to get rid of…and it doesn’t solve the problem, and I can’t get those things back.

    I think I need a whole new laptop.

    Right now I’m defragging…and going to bed. Thanks everyone.

    Robbie, come get your pants and look at this thing, will ya πŸ™‚

  17. Sorry that I’m late to the party. I agree with everyone who said to buy an external drive. Sorry if this was already mentioned (didn’t have time to read through all the responses) but you should look for an external drive with a 7200 rpm speed. That way if you start doing any video transfers for property tours you won’t have a problem with video freezing up on you.

    You really have a great support network with all of your responses!

  18. Great post. I’m having issues with my lap top, too… over heating battery on a Toshiba (one that’s not part of the recall)…Todd, can I compare that to my brain? πŸ˜‰

  19. For future referance you may want to consider an off site platform that you access via the internet.

    I would transfer all items to a stick and delete everything from the laptop then just work off the stick for future use – might want to make a copy of the stick on to a second stick or external hard drive.

  20. I use a GoDaddy product similar to what the last post referenced as an off site platform. It is cool to be able to up load files to it that I don’t use on a daily basis but have them available via the online link at any time without having to carry around multiple memory sticks or hook up to my external hard drive. The biggest drawback is the file size that I can upload at one time is pretty small. So if you’re trying to move larger files it can really be a pain. It is much easier to grab huge files/folders and move them to my external (7200 RPM) drive.

    It would be really cool to find an online storage medium like this that allows for large file transfers.

  21. More answers equals more questions!

    When the laptop was set up, it was set up with “two sides” as in “two users”, but I don’t really need that. Kim doesn’t use “his side” and it is usually so slow because he doesn’t use it, we rarely go over there. He uses a completely different computer, and not the laptop.

    It appears that the disk space problem is that other side (hope you know what I mean by “other side”. There are two icons for two users and you can switch users.

    That seems to be taxing the laptop memor and disk space, or is that my wishful thinking that it could as simple as making it a one user instead of two?

  22. Steve,

    Many have suggested Gmail. Here are my hesitation points:

    1) I love my Outlook for its ability to sort into files in the left sidebar. I get hundreds of legitimate emails in a short period of time. About 1,500 a month that I need to keep from clients, escrow, lenders, etc…I’m told there is no replacement for Outlook regarding storing different client emails into different files with their name.

    2) Professionals should have a business email address and not hotmail, yahoo, aol, earthlink. Does Gmail fall into that same category? I know you can forward to Gmail direct, but when you send from Gmail, does your extension say “gmail.com”?

  23. hard drive and stick question

    Relate this to me in “storing paper: terms. Records: file cabinet equals twelve month rolling basis. Boxes easy to get to equals previous 12 onth rolling basis. All files older than 24 months in boxes in deep storage.

    Now to computer storage. Would current but not using right now be a stick and older closed file info be an external drive, or vice versa?

  24. Ardell

    I’m very concerned you found files on your laptop that you didn’t know were there. Do you use a firewall when you connect to the Internet? My husband works in computer security, and this sounds like you may have hacker issues — if you are not secured when you get on the Internet, it’s easy for someone to use your computer as their own personal storage device for music and video files as well as more nefarious things.

  25. A couple of quick answers…

    Yes, deleting the 2nd profile should help.

    1) gmail has replaced “folders” with “labels”. Similar to Outlook, you can set up rules that automatically label emails as they come in.

    Interestingly, a huge bonus of gmail over Outlook is that it is quite easy to set it up so that selected emails don’t get sent to your phone… Here’s the trick, when setting up a filter, give the email type (probably an email address) a label and select the “Skip the Inbox”. Then set it up so that only emails that go into your Inbox get sent to your mobile phone. I love this featured because it allows me to stay connected to a bunch of newsgroups without getting a constant stream of emails on my phone!

    2) I’ve been using gmail for my outbound email address for over a year. Noticed that the emails always come from “dustin@raincityguide.com”, although sometimes it does give the extra note which lets the recipient know the email originated from a different domain. Either way, they respond to my raincityguide.com domain. My guess is that even this kink has been worked out for the professional version.

    Let me know if you want to test it out. I’d be happy to send you an invite.

  26. Ardell,

    The stick will hold up to a limited amount of data because of space so when you are moving files keep that in mind, but you can organize your memory stick as you would the hard drive on your lap top – by using files and files in files – like the out line format if you understand what I am saying. I would make a file system based on categories on your stick for like items and then move them as needed.

    If you are talking about a lot of data or files needing to be moved then you may want to go with an external hard drive as mentioned in the above post they do make small external hard drives so as they are easy to take with you etc, but be careful to make sure that they are durable enough to withstand travel – the people at any tech product store should know what I mean when I say durable – don’t want to go around shaking up some hard drives that are out there while walking or driving.

    For your temporary situation I would organize your memory stick the same as you have your laptop.

    As for off line storage I think that Microsoft has a system available with their Office Live and also Amazon has something going on where you can store data for pennies on the dollar. My web site is Office Live Basic and allows for up to I think 5 email accounts – Check it out might be the perfect item for a small business but everyone has their own likes.

  27. Christian,

    Worth clarifying.

    When I delete using the “Synthetik Method”, things go to a Recycle Bin on my desktop that I empty.

    When I delete emails from my “deleted emails” in Outlook, and it says “do you want to permanently delete these” and I say yes, they do not appear to go into a “recycle box”. So if there is a recycle box somewhere for the emails (which never end up in the recycle box where programs and music files go) thenI would need to know that.

    But as far as I can tell, yes, all recycle areas are empty on both user sides of the laptop.

  28. Outlook is saving the files you get via email. If you’re like me, you’re also saving a copy to your disk some place useful like my docs. So, you’re saving everything twice. Empty your outlook email the best you can. And like others have said, get a removable hard drive. It’s the most painless way to go. Store all of your files on it and use your computers hard drive for program files…in other words, don’t put any documents or the sort on your computer hard drive.

    Also, if you still don’t know what you have for a computer in the way of disk space or memory, download the very cool free program “Belarc Advisor”…it’ll tell you or whomever is troubleshooting for you exactly what’s on your computer and they’ll be better able to inform you of a fix.

    Chris Clement
    Synergy Property Group
    Victoria Texas

  29. Holly,

    I have Norton AntiVirus which I believe has firewalls. Is there someting I need in additional for a laptop?

    When I was on vacation, I was on my Verizon Broadband instead of my in home secure wireless system. Is Norton AntiVirus sufficient for those “using off site” Broadband connections?

    It is fairly apparent that the music had to do with my daughter making music CDs for our office some time ago. Apparently the music has to first be stored on the computer and then downloaded from there onto the CD. An extra step of removing it from the hard drive or Disk Space should have been taken after the CD was done. Best I can tell, that is where the music came from because there was a whole section of everything and anything Johnny Cash πŸ™‚

    It does not appear that anything was “hacked”.

    We have four computers and a laptop here in the house, so we are simply going to keep laptop for email and blogging only, which it pretty much as been “mine” since I started blogging.

    The “extra” files are from before my fingers became permanently attached to the keyboard πŸ™‚ No one really touches it but me now, and it even goes on vacation with me. So a good time to remove anything “not mine”.

  30. UPDATE: So far so good. No “low disk space” warnings today based on the advices so far regarding un-needed files. Synthetik…have to say…you pointed me right where I needed to go. Now if I can just get that same communication level going with you on other topics.

    The Tim won’t have coffee with me. How about you Chad/Synthetik? A little chat on the market “agentEmano”? I’ve never done a blog interview. I would love to do one with you. Better than a SmackDown. Or we could have Galen attend and be the “reporter” and we both live with his vantagepoint article? I like that.

  31. Ardell,

    Have you looked at the larger issue? You are having disk space issues now, but the bigger problem is information management. You really need to come up with a plan to organize and store all of your data for short and long term. Keeping everything — attachments included — in Outlook is NOT a good solution. Yes, keep all email correspondence as long as needed: but there is no reason to keep the attached files in email. Right-click the attachment and Save As to your hard drive.

    I build web sites, and therefore i deal with a lot of designers and a lot of files. I always work with the short and long term storage issues. An example of what to think of:
    short term (working on NOW): leave in email, save on hard drive ‘working’ folder
    medium term: remove file from email, move from ‘working’ to ‘done’ folder on hard drive
    long term: move from ‘done’ to ‘archive’ folder on another hard drive or burn to CD/DVD, etc.

    And this doesn’t even touch on Backups….you DO make backups daily, right?

  32. Another place to look for space are your “restore points”. To delete all restore points except the latest one, use the Disk Cleanup utility. Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then Disk Cleanup. Click on the more options tab and then select Clean up in the System Restore dialog box. You can also reduce the number of restore points saved by decreasing the total amount of disk space available to System Restore. Note that less available disk space will decrease the relative number of restore points. For more info on restore points, see http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/plan/faqsrwxp.mspx

  33. Ardell, I’d like to have a RCG + SBB + onlookers meetup sometime. Maybe at a bar with a suggested 2 drink limit? A coffee shop with a one drink limit?

  34. Well…bar equals I’m a lightweight at drinking and God knows what I’ll say…like East Coast on overload. Coffee? Same…and I’ll talk even faster. Maybe water for me either way πŸ™‚

  35. I’d be happy to rent out a neutral space here in Kirkland, like the historic ladies club building at 1st and 6th. An empty hall with no drinking of anything πŸ™‚ Or, we can have a time limit for “publish” stuff and then drink and kick back with an “off the record” understanding once I’ve had a sip of wine…seriously all it takes. When I say “lightweight” , I mean “LIGHTweight”.

    Another option here is the covered open area Downtown on the Lake. Similar Seattle suggestions anyone? Can’t see us taking over a Starbucks.

  36. “…God knows what I’ll say…”

    That would be the point.

    Unless there is some chance of drunken sparks flying, it ain’t worth my time.

    My imagined scenario which might get me to show up for such an event is Ardell and Eleua having a pleasant discussion on immigration. πŸ˜‰

    Sell tickets and contribute the vast profits to Habitat for Humanity.

  37. …or maybe Targy’s on Queen Anne.

    That would be most appropriate. Ground Zero for the death of old Seattle due to over-priced Real Estate.

  38. Ardell:

    I always call the “geek squad” at Best Buy…they are great and they always have the right answer and can install whatever you need!

    Good Luck.

  39. Thanks Jackie! I got that advice early on, but wondered if they would just try to “sell me something’ that was useless when I really needed a whole new laptop. So being armed with all this info helps immensely.

  40. “My imagined scenario which might get me to show up for such an event is Ardell and Eleua having a pleasant discussion on immigration.”

    Actually I’m very up to that challenge, my being a second generation American of “immigrant stock”. But I think that is for “kick back” time. I do not find E offensive in any way shape or form, though I have heard some call him “racist”. I do not get that impression at all from his writings. But maybe I haven’t read enough of his writings to see what others do. Some have forwarded to me “his racist comments”, and I did not see them as being racist at all.

    But that’s another topic!

  41. Patrick,

    Will get back to you on that long comment. Am running to a meeting and didn’t have time to address all that. I may need an interpreter. At first glance, some of that was over my head. As agents go, agents thing I’m a geek. As geeks go, I know nothing.

  42. I recorded the whole table banging episode on my top secret girl-geek camcorder cellphone for evidence in case shards of glass flew into the air and inflicted irrepairable bodily damage. Now when I meet Ardell for a drink to discuss business, I wear protective body armor and bring 4 attorneys as escorts.


    Seriously, Ardell is a ton of fun. I would love to attend a Seattle Bubble Bloggers/Rain City Guide drunken, sparks-flying,hoo ha.

  43. I find Eleua quite entertaining. I don’t agree with almost any of what he writes, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t funny.

    I don’t find this funny, however:

    That’s probably why you’ve heard what you’ve heard.

    If RCG showed me a bit more rationality as far as a reasonable expectation of the future of housing prices, I would probably be more comfortable over here than over there. My positive, progressive outlook and my love of Seattle seem to mesh better here than with the conservative bears that dominate SB.

    As it is, however, SB has the facts as I see them on their side.

  44. Facts are property specific. Don’t you believe that some make money while others lose it in all markets? That’s what I see. Must there be diametrically opposed sides?

    I report a foreclosure amidst many multiple bid price jumps. Balanced.

    SB will print every sign on the road of a property not selling and ignore all of the multiple bid stores. Not balanced.

    I think Seattle Bubble “has the facts as I see them on their side” because they stack the deck..

  45. You are looking at lagging indicators, Ardell. Look at things that have some predictive ability. Look at long-term trends. Look at affordability. Rents. Incomes. National trends. These are the things upon which give some clue as to what houses should actually be worth.

    Once you see a jump in foreclosures or a drop in prices, it’s already too late to give your clients any useful advice.

    I agree that some bubble-heads latch on to meaningless anecdotes and cherry-picked data points. The sarcasm can get to be a bit much as well. That doesn’t mean you should discount or ignore the overwhelming wealth of data that points to an impending decline in home prices, both nationally and locally.

  46. I should also mention gmail can now check other POP3 accounts just like outlook does. If you’re used to folders, using gmail’s labels will take a bit of research and an open mind but once you start using them, you will wonder why you EVER used folders.

    I would also suggest getting Firefox, the plugin Greasemonkey and the Gmail quicksilver script. It allows you to navigate, label, trash, declare spam, etc. all from your keyboard without any mouse use. I can zip through my emails almost 10x faster than I can in Outlook. Not to mention with the help of labels I’m able to get things done a lot faster as I don’t have to drag/drop emails into their appropriate folders as instead of having to sort an email into a client’s folder, I can just search for that client’s name and all their emails will come up.

    It’s a different mindset like I said, but having a program that actually indexes your email properly all but removes the need for folders. So I just use very simple labels like “todo”, “onhold”, “inprogress” etc. Keeps you organized and very much on task. Everything else I just throw straight into archive and just search for it via the conversation in it or who emailed it and poof I have it.

    Here’s a link to the gmail quicksilver greasemonkey script group:

    There are a lot of tutorials on how to increase your gmail productivity as well. A simple google search should satisfy that.

  47. Can you reprint “the insult”, I don’t remember calling him names. He does appear to be insulted every time we talk. EVERY time, but I don’t think I insulted him. hmmm I remember saying he is half my age, but that’s not insulting. Is it?

  48. ARDELL

    I use exchange server at USA.net. I love it. It ain’t cheap but it works. One database! I love not having to worry ‘oh that email is on the office computer’ kinda stuff!

  49. 1. Make a full backup. If you can’t do this, this is a problem you should solve first.

    2. Let a certified Geek look over the laptop for a few minutes.
    a. If the laptop is modern, but lacks disk space, replace the drive.
    b. If the laptop is not modern and lacks disk space, replace the laptop.

    3. Don’t use external storage if you use the laptop on the go; you’ll find the extra cables of an external drive annoying and the space provided by a flash drive is likely too little.

  50. Thanks Ray,

    I do think I’m going to go the new laptop route and start from scratch, bringing over only those things I need. I’m also going to restrict the laptop use and do dual computers side by side Each dedicated to various tasks, to prevent this problem in the future.

    Using one machine for all things is not likely the best way for me to go. I have my hand in too many pies for one machine to keep up with me.

  51. Ardell, just this past weekend I picked up an external hard drive at Costco. I thought of this post! What a difference that has made for my lap top! And, it’s piece of mind knowing that I have everything backed up. Thank YOU for posting this and to everyone who offered advice.

  52. Every time I log into my PC LiveUpdate is reporting disk space is low, when it isn’t. It got low at one point but the partition was expanded. You’re probably seeing it too. Could you see if you can find a way to make that notification stop

    There is NO AUDIO and VIDEO file format.

    and Total Disk Size – 15 GB
    Free Disk Size -7GB

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