We’re spoiled by to­day’s enor­mous spin­ning drives and ever-grow­ing SSDs. Space doesn’t tend to be an is­sue. But man­ag­ing it re­ally should be, both in terms of what’s there and where you’re putting it. Yes, Win­dows search can dig things up quite read­ily, but de­spite Mi­crosoft’s at­tempts to im­prove it, search­ing on NTFS drives is sim­ply not a quick task. How­ever, if your files are well, er, filed, you may never need to do a Win­dows search again.

Con­sider, be­fore you do any­thing rash, chang­ing your de­fault in­stal­la­tion di­rec­tory. By de­fault, most ap­pli­ca­tions you in­stall ei­ther nes­tle in the “Pro­gram Files” or “Pro­gram Files (x86)” fold­ers, split­ting them up be­tween those that run na­tively in 64-bit (the former) and those that don’t. Log­i­cally, this makes sense; prac­ti­cally, 64-bit Win­dows is now the main­stream, 32-bit ap­pli­ca­tions are en­tirely com­pat­i­ble with 64-bit sys­tems, and there’s no rea­son to split them apart in this way. It’s just con­fus­ing. But dur­ing each pro­gram in­stal­la­tion (bar those of poorly-coded pro­grams that rely on spe­cific di­rec­to­ries to run), you are given a choice as to where you in­stall your soft­ware. Set­ting up your own folder struc­ture—say, a “Pro­grams” folder, with fold­ers within la­beled “Mu­sic,” “Of­fice,” et al—is a great way both to neaten up your col­lec­tion and find out what you have in­stalled when the Start menu be­gins to get a bit un­ruly. It’s a five-minute man­ual job that will make life eas­ier in the fu­ture.

Desk­top Win­dows isn’t nice enough to of­fer folder quo­tas for files in the same way its server-fo­cused skew does. Quo­tas, as you might ex­pect, help con­trol the amount that users are al­lowed to store. Re­strict­ing your­self in this man­ner is a great way to make sure you’re clean­ing out the dead wood reg­u­larly—if you’re forced to make room every time you want to stick a new game or pro­gram on your sys­tem, those tough de­ci­sions sud­denly get much eas­ier to make. As we’ve said, Win­dows doesn’t nat­u­rally sup­port such stor­age hand­cuffs, but we can get around it with a lit­tle cun­ning and a lot of par­ti­tion­ing.

Drive space doesn’t tend to be an is­sue. But man­ag­ing it re­ally should be

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